Digital Coast Act Introduced in U.S. Senate

September 22, 2014  - By 0 Comments

A bill to establish a “Digital Coast” program whereby the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) develops a coordinated and comprehensive national mapping effort for coastal, state and territorial waters of the United States, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, earning praise from MAPPS (the national association of private sector geospatial firms).

More than half of all Americans, 153 million people, live on or near a coast, and an additional 12 million are expected to move to the coasts over the next decade. Yet, despite this population density and economic development, much of the 95,000 miles of U.S. shoreline does not have current, accurate maps and geospatial information; moreover, much of what does exist pre-dates the 1970s.

“The Digital Coast Act is needed to realize the concept of a Digital Coast as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS),” said MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello. “The Digital Coast Act provides an opportunity to help America’s ocean, coastal and shoreline areas by addressing issues raised by the U.S. Oceans Commission, the Pew Commission, as well as several NAS reports, all of which have highlighted the need for surveying, charting, remote sensing, and geospatial data of America’s coasts, harbors, ports, shorelines and ocean resources critical to the nation’s most basic economic and recreational activities, to smartly conserve a fragile environment.”

“Greater emphasis has been paid to monitoring sea-level rise, coastal conservation and emergency preparedness and response in the wake of natural and manmade disasters,” MAPPS President Jeff Lower, said. “This Digital Coast Act will coordinate the pooling of resources from multiple agencies (federal, state, and local) and other stakeholders to map the various needs once, and then utilize and apply the high-quality data and products numerous times, thus reducing taxpayer waste while maximizing the return on investment for all stakeholders.” 
The Digital Coast is a geospatially enabled program to improve coordination and support work with stakeholders to identify geospatial priorities; improve coordination of coastal mapping and management activities; use standards and standardized methods for data acquisition, processing, and distribution to ensure broadest utility of data; promote best practices when applying geospatial data for coastal decision making; and contract for the collection and creation of quality non-navigation feature data sets to include: shoreline change, satellite and aerial imagery, land use and land cover maps, benthic habitat mapping, terrestrial topography, shallow water bathymetry, and submerged aquatic vegetation.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin introduced the Digital Coast Act of 2014 on September 18. The bill compliments a bipartisan effort in the U.S. House of Representatives by C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Don Young (R-AK), cosponsors of Digital Coast Act, H.R 1382.

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Tracy Cozzens

About the Author:

Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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