NOAA’s Digital Coast Delivers Valuable, Free Mapping and Education for Coastal Management

Cherie Jarvis, eGIS Practice Lead at Quantum Spatial

It’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t have abundant free mapping applications. These days we have so many of these free map apps it’s hard to find the right one for the job. That is, unless you are part of the Coastal Management Community. Free map apps, curated over the past ten years for the unique needs of marine planners and coastal resource managers, abound on the NOAA Office for Coastal Management’s Digital Coast web portal. With contributions from federal, state and local government as well as academia and the private sector, this website hosts the best tools, data and apps for the coastal management community.

The Digital Coast is also a comprehensive educational resource providing videos and live training events to help users understand everything from the basics to the complex and interconnected issues faced by our coastal communities. The Stories section illustrates just how coastal communities from the Gulf States to the U.S. Island territories, from Florida to Maine, and from Indiana to Alaska are using Digital Coast to understand and prepare for the challenges of sea level rise using, analyze risk from wildfires using C-CAP land cover data sets and much more. These stories also help spread the word to newbie users by providing real world examples of how to apply this resource to coastal challenges in their own communities.

We consider ourselves an extended member of the Digital Coast. As an industry partner, Quantum Spatial has been contributing to the Digital Coast for years by supplying high resolution LiDAR, imagery and spatial information. These data are accessible to users through mapping applications built to answer some of the toughest questions in coastal management. Just this year Quantum Spatial completed the development of a new marine planning and reporting tool which provides rich content about the southeastern coastal areas from Virginia to Florida. This new mapping application is called the Ocean Reporting Tool and integrates data from and the ENOW Explorer to provide marine based infographics about Energy and Minerals; Natural Resources and Conservation; Transportation and Infrastructure; and Economics and Commerce. We expect the tool to be released to the public later this year and accessible through the Digital Coast web portal.

With a focus on providing value to more than 123 million people living in coastal zones, the Digital Coast is a shining example of how the federal government is providing data, information and education distributed through the use of web based GIS technology to the public. For the coastal community, the Digital Coast is one of the best resources for discovering free mapping applications, tools, data and much more.

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