the 65 percent of the nation that contains 92 percent of its population, where flood risk justifies the required data collection. The program can use newly acquired data or existing local and regional data if the existing data are reasonably up-to-date.
A seamless nationwide elevation model has application beyond the FEMA Map Modernization program; some local and state governments are acquiring lidar data at these accuracies or better. For example, in 2007, the Florida Division of Emergency Management will be acquiring lidar data satisfying 1-foot equivalent contour accuracy of shorelines for storm surge modeling and hurricane evacuation planning. As part of Elevation for the Nation, federal, state, and local mapping partners should have the option to request data that exceed minimum specifications if they pay the additional cost of data collection and processing required to achieve higher accuracies.
The new data collected in Elevation for the Nation should be disseminated to the public as part of an updated National Elevation Dataset.
The Elevation for the Nation database should contain the original lidar mass points and edited bare-earth surface, as well as any breaklines required to define essential linear features.
In addition to the elements proposed for the national database, secondary products including triangulated irregular networks, hydrologically corrected digital elevation models, and hydrologically corrected stream networks and shorelines should be created to support FEMA floodplain mapping. Standards and interchange formats for these secondary products do not currently exist and should be developed. Comprehensive standards for lidar data collection and processing are also needed. Professional societies and federal agency consortia are appropriate entities to lead development of these standards; funding to support these efforts should be considered as part of a nationwide effort.
The committee reached its conclusion that Elevation for the Nation is needed for two main reasons: first, for the nation as a whole the existing elevation data are so old, and the gap between their accuracy and the accuracy required for floodplain mapping is so great, that the need for new elevation data is clear; and second, the required elevation mapping technology exists and has been commercially deployed such that implementing Elevation for the Nation is technically feasible. Regardless of whether “best-available” elevation data are used or new elevation data are being acquired for a flood study, informed judgments must be made about the appropriateness of these datasets and their influence on flood data computations. The committee recognizes that Elevation for the Nation will involve significant expense, perhaps as much as the existing Flood Map Modernization program. It is for Congress and others to determine whether this expense is justified in the context