Increasing Coastal Mapping and Charting Efficiency
As with any activity that involves multiple federal, state, and local agencies, academic researchers, and the private sector, there is tremendous potential in coastal zone mapping and charting activities for redundancy and overlap of effort. This becomes particularly important when the activity involves very expensive platforms and sensors. With the large number of agencies involved, their differing histories, the breadth of their mandates, and the complexity of the issues (see Appendix A), there are many instances of both real and “apparent” redundancies (“apparent” refers to situations where an activity appears similar to activities of other programs, either within the same agency or in another agency, but that in reality serves an important separate purpose). The committee attempted to distinguish between real and apparent redundancies in coastal mapping and charting activities within and between agencies based on the information provided directly or through presentations at committee meetings (and summarized in Appendix A). When the titles or brief descriptions of activities indicated apparent redundancy with activities performed by another agency or another office within the same agency, the activities were investigated further to determine whether the apparent redundancy was real. In many cases it was determined that the activities described were not redundant (and there is certainly a lesson to be learned about taking great care in naming and describing an activity). In other cases, however, the committee found that efficiencies could be gained through better coordination of activities, and these are the examples presented here.
It is important to note that the committee did find examples where communication, collaboration, and cooperation were clearly leading to enhanced efficiency and the avoidance of redundant activities (e.g., see Box 6.1). Examples include collaboration by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the Bathy/Topo/Shoreline Demonstration Project, efforts by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey (OCS) and USGS to maximize survey
Long Island, New York
In Long Island Sound, there is a 23-year history of cooperative State of Connecticut/USGS/Minerals Management Service/NOAA data collection involving seismic and sidescan sonar surveys; bottom grabs and coring; and bottom reconnaissance using divers, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), and submersibles. Nine potential study areas have been established by producing continuous sidescan sonar mosaics. Most of the data that have been collected as part of this effort are available on the Internet.a
Several derivative products from this effort have also been published and are available on the Internet.b There are very few requests for the data used to produce these products or for the background related to the sidescan mosaic areas, but there is extensive and growing use of the derivative maps for permitting, resource management, and resource protection applications.
Stellwagen Bank, Jeffreys Ledge, Massachusetts and New Hampshire
NOAA-OCS, NOAA Fisheries (formerly the National Marine Fisheries Service), the Sanctuaries Program, USGS, and state and local authorities all have great interest in the region from north of Cape Cod seaward to an area known as Jeffreys Ledge. This region includes the approaches to Boston and Portsmouth harbors, Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary, and many rich fishing grounds, including several regions that have been closed to fishing by NOAA Fisheries. Each of these organizations was planning independent mapping programs, but now, as a result of a series of meetings and conference calls, all of the mapping efforts (including contract surveys to the private sector) are being coordinated so that there will be minimal overlap (except where desired for repeat of comparison surveys) and maximum efficiency.
value by collecting data relevant to both organizations on a single cruise, USGS-National Park Service (NPS) collaborative mapping programs, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collaboration with NOAA, USGS, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and a number of state agencies to determine national water quality conditions, and the numerous Coastal Services Center (CSC) efforts to organize states and others with respect to standards and data distribution.
DATA COLLECTION OVERLAP AND REDUNDANCY—TOPOGRAPHY AND BATHYMETRY
Those charged with acquiring or working with coastal zone mapping data and/or derived products do not have an efficient means of determining whether an area of interest has been previously mapped or is planned to be mapped. Even when a user is aware that a mapping effort has been completed, it is often difficult to acquire the data in useful forms. The agencies undertaking mapping programs use various methods to distribute their products, increasingly making digital data available on the Internet, often free of cost. There are numerous examples of excellent Web sites that attempt to offer the user easy access to both primary data and derived products (e.g., the National Geophysical Data Center’s Geophysical Data System [GEODAS] and Coastal Relief Model, OCS’s Mapfinder, CSC’s Ocean Planning Information System [OPIS], and many others), but such efforts are distributed and managed by individual labs, divisions, or agencies and are often difficult to locate. Currently, individuals seeking spatial data must search many Web sites, contact agency staff, and generally learn through trial and error what data exist and how to obtain them. In addition, the usefulness of coastal data often outlasts the work or even the careers of the people who generated the data, and it is essential that future generations have access to such data despite changes in the mandates of agencies and their staff.
As with most situations where redundancy and overlap exists, the problem lies mostly in a lack of communication among agencies (and sometimes within agencies), and between agencies and end-users. During presentations to the committee, there were several occasions where representatives from agencies that were planning mapping or charting programs were made aware of nearly identical programs that existed in, or were planned by, other agencies. While the redundancies identified involve the full range of data collection, analysis, and product development activities, it is redundancy in data collection that is of most concern as this is by far the most expensive of these activities. Noted below are specific examples of activities that can benefit from better communication and coordination, followed by suggestions for strategies that may alleviate some of the
potential for duplication of effort and thus produce more effective and efficient coastal zone mapping and charting.
The Cooperative Topographic Mapping Program of the USGS’s Geography Discipline archives and disseminates maps and digital spatial data products. The program is developing national digital coverage as a component of “The National Map” initiative, based on participation with federal, state, local, and tribal governments; non-profit organizations; and the private sector. This effort requires coastal topographic data above Mean High Water (MHW) or perhaps Mean Sea Level (MSL). The USGS national mapping program uses stereo aerial images for its production of topographic quadrangles, including digital line graphs, Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), and digital orthophoto quadrangles. Additional aerial photographs are required periodically to update the mapping products. A significant portion of the aerial photographs required by USGS are in coastal areas where NOAA’s national shoreline mapping program collects high-quality, tide-coordinated, stereo aerial photographs. Except for the additional requirement for tide-coordinated timing, such aerial photographs are also appropriate for topographic mapping by USGS. A coordinated effort between the two agencies in coastal areas would allow both agencies to benefit from their collective efforts and eliminate redundancy or overlap.
Individual agency and state efforts to collect Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data appear to suffer from a significant lack of coordination and cooperation. NOAA-CSC conducts the Topographic Change Mapping project, which supports private-sector LIDAR mapping to help CSC address coastal management needs. There is also an ongoing National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and USGS research effort to provide LIDAR coverage of the entire U.S. coastline to support improved assessment of coastal change hazards. These two programs closely parallel each other, and there is considerable likelihood of duplication in some regions. In fact, a few years ago the two agencies had worked together—with NASA—to develop the foundation of the Airborne LIDAR Assessment of Coastal Erosion (ALACE), a partnership between CSC, NASA, and the USGS to collect LIDAR data along the sandy beaches of the United States. Unfortunately, this collaboration no longer exists, and as a result there is considerable potential for duplication and lack of coordination.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) collects bathymetric, topographic, and photogrammetric information in inland waterways and ports for a range of purposes. Additionally, environmental conditions are measured and monitored using spectral and field sampling techniques to determine the impacts of engineering projects. The USACE uses its Scanning Hydrographic Operational Airborne LIDAR Survey (SHOALS) bathymetric LIDAR system, which is also capable of being equipped with multispectral imagers and topographic LIDAR, for mapping and monitoring of the coastal area. This technology is especially useful in waters too shallow or hazardous for efficient employment of survey launches. However, the extent to which USACE project-specific mapping using SHOALS technology could benefit from, or contribute to, the ongoing efforts of NOAA and the USGS is unclear. The process by which the USACE prioritizes its coastal mapping activities and coordinates these activities among its own regional offices is also unclear. Lack of coordination of shallow bathymetric LIDAR surveys was cited as a problem by one state representative who reported that, while the state was conducting a LIDAR mapping program, he discovered “by happenstance” that the USACE was planning LIDAR flights over the same area of coast. In the present situation, where many individual states are seeking to obtain extensive or statewide LIDAR coverage of onshore areas, it is imperative that effective coordination between federal agencies and coastal states be implemented for maximum efficiency and cost savings.
Nowhere is the problem of agency overlap more evident than in the mapping of the nation’s shorelines. The committee identified several technical reasons for the difficulty in defining, locating, and mapping a consistent shoreline, but none of these reasons justify the degree of overlap and lack of coordination evident with respect to shoreline mapping. The following summary of federal shoreline mapping and shoreline change activities illustrates the nature of this problem. Recommendations for reducing these overlaps and improving interagency coordination in the nation’s shoreline mapping efforts are presented later in this chapter.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
NOAA’s mission includes the requirement to survey coastal regions and navigable shoreline water areas to provide an official and accurate delineation of what the agency and many international bodies define as “The National Shoreline.” These surveys consist of the collection and analysis of aerial photogrammetric shoreline data by NOAA’s National
Geodetic Survey (NGS) for nautical chart production and the accurate geographical references needed for managing coastal resources. NOAA-OCS uses the shoreline data collected by NGS to prepare nautical charts and other products for navigation. Recently, these data have been produced in digital form from scanned raster (paper) copies of archived coastal surveys originally used in the production of nautical charts. Most of these efforts are managed by the NOAA-CSC, which is making the data available via the Internet and on CD-ROMs for each U.S. coastal state and territory. For some states, shoreline data digitization is also being accomplished through partnerships with local coastal zone management programs.
Minerals Management Service (MMS)
MMS derives state and federal baselines based on the definition agreed to in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: “… [T]he normal baseline for measuring the breadth of the territorial sea is the low water line along the coast, as marked on large scale charts officially recognized by the coastal state.” MMS uses the NOAA-collected and -derived Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) for baseline point development. Although MMS does not directly perform any coastal mapping or charting, it does support efforts by NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS) to collect new information where data gaps exist. The NOAA-OCS coordinates development and dissemination of the base cadastre and marine boundaries with the MMS Mapping and Boundary Branch. This coordination between NOAA and the MMS is an example of the type of collaboration that maximizes efficiency.
U.S. Geological Survey
The USGS Geology Discipline supports scientific investigations of shoreline change including the National Assessment of Shoreline Change. Primarily using a NASA airborne topographic LIDAR to map the U.S. coastline, the principal purpose of this program is to develop a repeatable coastal surveying method for periodic measurements of the shoreline. Although it appears that these data could by used by NOAA—and the data is made available to NOAA—this program is not designed to establish legal boundaries but instead is intended to:
Establish an objective shoreline for the sandy beaches of the continental United States and Hawaii for the development of consistent estimates of coastal change. The committee notes the apparent redundancy with NOAA’s efforts to provide “an official and accurate delineation of ‘The National Shoreline.’”
Develop and implement improved uniform methods of assessing and monitoring shoreline change. The committee notes that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), USACE, and NOAA also conduct shoreline change assessments.
Provide data and information to other federal and state agencies through partnerships.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
FEMA is the principal agency tasked with identification and mitigation of the nation’s coastal hazard threat. Through the use of grant monies allocated to state agencies and published standards, FEMA oversees the production of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS). FIRMS delineate the location and intensity of flooding hazards in the coastal zone related to hurricane storm surge and tsunami occurrence, based on historical frequency and site-specific physical parameters.
Almost all of the current FEMA coastal hazard enterprise has been focused on water-level inundation and has not considered other types of coastal hazards, such as coastal erosion or sea level rise, which can only be effectively evaluated using geospatial tools. Congress has recognized this deficiency and drafted legislation that would allow FEMA to engage in coastal erosion mapping, with a significant amount of funding ($150 million in 2003 and $200 million in 2004 for map modernization) potentially appropriated toward this effort.
Traditionally, FEMA has used a state-by-state approach to collect the geospatial data necessary for delineating the erosion hazard zone, rather than working with other federal agencies in a cooperative effort. The state-by-state approach suffers from parochial definitions and lack of standards for data collection and analysis methods and is unlikely to result in the nationally consistent geospatial dataset envisioned by this committee and urgently required by coastal managers, scientists, and policy makers.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
In 2001, USACE received funding from the Congress to initiate a National Shoreline Management Study,1 which directs that a report be prepared for Congress describing the state of the shores of the United States. This study will examine the extent and causes of shoreline erosion and accretion and discuss the economic and environmental impacts of these processes. The intent is to provide the information needed for
developing recommendations on levels of federal/non-federal participation in shore protection and to outline systematic approaches to sand management and coastal management decision making. The scope of this study, particularly investigating the causes of shoreline erosion, appears to duplicate the efforts of USGS’s science-based National Assessment of Shoreline Change, and it was unclear to the committee whether or how this apparent duplication would be addressed by the respective agencies.
DATA COLLECTION OVERLAP AND REDUNDANCY—HABITAT MAPPING
In the context of coastal mapping, habitat is necessarily a derived thematic layer constructed on a variety of primary data sources. Habitat mapping can encompass almost all other primary information sources, including the framework information of topography and bathymetry, and source data elements, including water movement; the quality, character, and distribution of bottom materials; sediment dynamics; and other biological and chemical components of the ecosystem. The measurement and compilation of any and all physical, chemical, and biological coastal information can be considered “habitat mapping.” With such broad information needs and high socioeconomic value, it is not surprising that many agencies express a need for habitat information and/or have active efforts to map habitat.
With so many agencies involved in habitat mapping, there is a high potential for duplication and overlap. However, there are a number of difficulties in assessing potential overlaps and gaps and in recommending steps to address the problem. Many individual habitat mapping initiatives occur on regional or local scales to address specific needs (e.g., activities of coastal states to address their permitting and management requirements). A recent report noted that “in general, habitat maps have been compiled only on an ad hoc basis for small areas … due partly to the lack of an accepted classification scheme for seafloor habitats in the United States” (NRC, 2002; p. 31). Different efforts often address different species, biogeographic regions, or research questions. Nevertheless, considerable benefits and cost savings are likely to result from a national approach to mapping coastal habitats. As with all thematic layers, the basic geospatial data (topography and bathymetry) are an essential component of habitat mapping, providing the framework upon which habitat data are displayed and referenced. At the next level, information describing substrate type and distribution and sedimentary processes are components of habitat characterization (e.g., Kostylev et al., 2001). Consequently, sidescan sonar imagery, multibeam backscatter, aerial and satellite imagery, seafloor photography, and other techniques for determining the nature of
seafloor substrate are an important additional layer for mapping habitat. In addition, more ephemeral and difficult to measure parameters like salinity, currents, water temperature and range, nutrient levels, and associated species are all components of a final determination of habitat. Although the complexity of the issues involved with habitat mapping may justify involvement of numerous agencies in the collection of habitat data, it is likely that better coordination of effort and broader access to data would lead to increased efficiency.
An additional requirement to support consistency of habitat mapping among agencies and other users is a nationally—if not internationally—accepted marine habitat classification system. Such a system would ensure that a map developed in one region is comparable to that from another area in terms of nomenclature, quality assurance, and other standards. This will allow appropriate understanding, planning, and action to address threats to the important species, biodiversity, and habitats that extend beyond state or national borders.
STRATEGIES FOR ADDRESSING REDUNDANCY AND OVERLAP
The Federal Budget Process—the Problem Behind the Problem
The lack of coordination and communication within and between federal agencies, as well as between state and federal entities, has resulted in overlap and redundancy, not only in terms of agency operations but also in terms of agency missions related to coastal mapping and charting. This probably comes as no surprise to most federal managers, for in a very real sense the budgetary and programmatic decision making processes of the federal government favor those who set themselves apart by promoting their own agendas, rather than those who would support coordinated partnerships between agencies. In large measure, the federal budget process discourages partnership planning and funding.
Each federal fiscal year’s budget cycle begins with the development of an agency-level budget proposal. For example, the component bureaus (USGS, NPS, FWS, MMS, etc.) of the Department of the Interior all develop separate proposals. The bureaus set priorities and goals for the myriad of individual efforts to be continued or initiated by their offices during the coming fiscal year. Bureau proposals are then submitted to the department for review, where they are subject to departmental priorities reflecting a host of policy, legislative, regulatory, procurement, and management needs that are usually more closely tied to the administration’s priorities than those at the bureau level.
Although these two steps probably offer the highest potential for rewarding internal or internal/external partnerships under the existing
budget system (perhaps because the benefits are clearer to the interested parties), such partnerships face strong competition from internal forces seeking to preserve, sustain, and, most often, expand internal funding and capabilities. Requests for funding to support partnerships with other agencies may be denied because of a perceived risk that if one agency partner fails to receive funding, the project may not be viable; alternatively, it may be denied because if a single project is listed in more than one agency’s budget, it may appear to be a duplication when in reality it is actually cost sharing.
The next step is submission of departmental budgets to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where individual examiners, assigned to particular departments and bureaus, review the proposals. Among the objectives of such reviews is the reduction or elimination of any requests for funding that do not fall within the administration’s priorities, as well as identification of potential redundancies. There is potential for OMB examiners to perceive funding for the same project in two or more agencies’ budgets as a duplication of effort and to eliminate funding to one or more of the partnering agencies.
After OMB makes its decisions, the departmental budget requests are compiled into the president’s request to Congress. In both the House and the Senate, separate committees dealing with the individual “bins” of the federal budget review, deliberate, and ultimately arrive at a “mark” for each of the line items in the administration’s request. Agencies with coastal mapping and charting responsibilities and needs are distributed across a number of congressional committees that authorize and appropriate funds. The “stovepipe” nature of the committee system, combined with the location of agencies with coastal mapping and charting responsibilities in different “pipes,” limits opportunities for promoting or establishing interagency partnerships.
Occasionally, legislation is passed that directs specific agencies to work in partnership to address a critical national need. However, funds may not have been appropriated for the new directive, which means that funding must come from existing agency budgets. Occasionally a program will generate support across several levels of the government. One of these was the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program, which developed a strong rationale for centralized funding to address this critical national concern. As a result, OMB strongly supported interagency requests for additional funds.
It is with this in mind that the committee encourages OMB management and agency/bureau representatives to the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) to recognize that no single agency has the resources, or the mission, to collect the data and develop the models necessary to support the comprehensive geospatial products that will meet all of the
nation’s coastal user needs. Only through intensive and extensive partnerships between and within agencies can significant progress be made toward the community vision of an integrated and continuous coastal zone mapping and charting product.
Enhancing Inter- and Intra-agency Cooperation and Collaboration
The committee recognizes a pressing need for establishing and improving formal and informal mechanisms for collaboration in planning, funding, and implementing the nation’s coastal mapping and charting efforts. We appreciate that success will ultimately depend on support at many levels of government, from agency offices, to OMB examiners, to Congress. Our overarching concern is that without such mechanisms, the nation’s capability to map and chart its coastal areas will be seriously degraded by duplicative and unnecessarily costly field efforts, lack of standardized approaches for enhancing the utility of the data and derived products, and serious gaps in capability and data coverage. In the following paragraphs we present specific mechanisms that could be used to further such collaborations.
Mandatory registration of all federally funded coastal mapping and charting activities in a central, publicly available database.
As noted above, in the process of the committee’s meetings we observed several occasions where representatives from agencies that were planning mapping or charting programs were made aware of nearly identical programs that existed in, or were planned by, other agencies. If this happened several times in the course of only four committee meetings, there is clearly a serious problem. As a first—and enforceable—step in ensuring that information be readily available, the committee recommends that all agencies receiving federal funds for coastal mapping or charting activities be required to register these activities in a publicly available, easily accessible database. This database would contain critical information on the spatial extent of the survey, the equipment used, the parameters measured, and so forth. The database would track surveys completed but, most importantly, would list surveys being planned. In this way, other organizations could identify the extent and parameters for planned surveys. While registration cannot be made mandatory for states and those funded by sources other than federal funds, they should be encouraged to register their planned and completed activities. In addition, these organizations would have a single place to search to find what federally funded surveys have already been done and, more importantly, what surveys are planned in their regions. There could also be a portion of the database
reserved for a “surveys needed” section, where all agencies or organizations (including non-federal organizations) could list areas that are in need of mapping as well as the type of data required.
Aspects of this recommendation are already covered under the newly revised OMB Circular A-16 (OMB, 2002):
… [A]ll agencies that collect, use, or disseminate geographic information and/or carry out related spatial data activities will, both internally and through their activities involving partners, grants, and contracts:
Prepare, maintain, publish, and implement a strategy for advancing geographic information and related spatial data activities appropriate to their mission, in support of the NSDI Strategy. Annually report to OMB on your achievements relative to your strategies, and include spatial data assets within Exhibit 300 submissions (see OMB Circular A-11, sec. 300) … [and] … before the obligation of funds, ensure that all expenditures for spatial data and related systems activities financed directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, by federal funds are compliant with the standards and provisions of the FGDC. All Information Technology systems which process spatial data should identify planned investments for spatial data and compliance with FGDC standards within the Exhibit 300 capital asset and business plan and submission (see OMB Circular A-11, sec. 300).
While this directive requires some degree of registration for all geospatial data collection activities, the committee calls for a much more focused database to encompass coastal zone-specific activities, linked to the proposed single coastal zone Web portal.
Through a system based on the centralized registration of coastal survey work and a centralized coordination office, the specifications for proposed work could be viewed by all interested parties. If an agency notes that survey work is being planned by others in an area of interest to it, the agency can assess the proposed data types and specifications and then may choose to fund any incremental costs necessary to bring the survey specifications into line with its own needs. Thus, the registry not only would serve to reduce redundancy and overlap but would also have the potential to greatly enhance efficiency by facilitating “incremental” surveys, that is, when one agency plans a survey for a particular purpose (e.g., bathymetry for safety of navigation) and another agency requires a different type of data in the same area (e.g., backscatter for habitat mapping), the “piggyback” agency can provide the incremental funding required to collect the additional data rather than conducting a very expensive independent survey (see Box 6.2). The database would be served by the single Web portal dedicated to coastal zone mapping (described in Chapter 5).
In 2001 the USGS Geography Discipline proposed that it should develop “The National Map”—a database of continuously maintained
A magnitude 6.5 earthquake is reported in the Seattle area. The epicenter is determined to be offshore, and there is concern that the earthquake has created seafloor instability with the potential to trigger underwater landslides. The USGS Coastal and Marine Program, which has responsibility for offshore geologic mapping, makes plans to map the area and registers the upcoming survey in the national coastal mapping survey database. The personnel assigned to the centralized coordinating office for coastal mapping activities receive notification of the planned USGS survey and review the registered “survey needs” list of other agencies. They find that NOAA-OCS has listed the area offshore from Seattle on their list of desired survey areas. The coordinating office personnel then contact NOAA and suggest that the agency contact the appropriate authority at the USGS. NOAA is informed that the USGS intends to contract the survey to a qualified contractor and collect multibeam sonar bathymetry and backscatter to “geologic standards.” NOAA determines that for a 10 percent additional cost the data could be collected to “hydrographic standards.” NOAA authorizes the additional funding, and data suitable for the needs of both USGS and NOAA are collected at a small fraction of the cost of two separate surveys. One year later, NOAA Fisheries determines that it needs to map Essential Fish Habitat off the same area of the coast. The coastal survey database is searched and shows that the USGS has already mapped the region, collecting bathymetry to hydrographic standards and backscatter in support of geologic interpretation. This is more than suitable for NOAA Fisheries needs, and so it is only necessary to schedule a “ground-truth” cruise to collect video and other imagery. The cost of another mapping survey is saved.
base geographic information for the United States and its territories designed to serve as the nation’s topographic map for the 21st century (USGS, 2001). This database would include orthorectified imagery, elevation data (including bathymetry), cultural features and boundaries, geographic names, and land-cover data. The strategy proposed for assembly of this database is to use a combination of existing data together with data provided through partnerships with federal, state, and local agencies; the private sector; academia; libraries; and the public. A major incentive for this proposal was the need to update the aging USGS paper map coverage. In many ways the USGS concept for the National Map has much in
common with this committee’s vision for easy access to data derived from multiple sources and available from a single Web site. A recent review of the USGS plans for the National Map (NRC 2003b) applauded the National Map vision, describing it as ambitious, challenging, and worthwhile, but also noted that there was little new in the USGS proposal and that the biggest challenges that will need to be overcome are not scientific or technical, but rather institutional and cultural. This committee considers that incorporating offshore geospatial data will present additional challenges related to the technical issues involved with including bathymetric elevation data (as described in detail above), and to the significant institutional challenges involved with assuming some degree of responsibility for the completeness, consistency, and accuracy of data elements that are the mandated responsibility of other federal agencies. The acknowledgment in the National Map implementation plan of the importance of partnerships is a gratifying recognition of the need for extensive interagency collaboration among all agencies involved.
Formal coordination of geospatial data collection and analysis efforts
Coordination of coastal zone mapping activities among all the primary agencies involved in coastal zone mapping must be through a mechanism that has the means to monitor and ensure compliance. Structurally, the FGDC seems to be the appropriate body to oversee such coordination, although this committee has concerns about the effectiveness of current FGDC initiatives (see below). Either a restructured and empowered FGDC Marine and Coastal Spatial Data Subcommittee or a subcontract to an independent third party (e.g., the National Ocean Partnership Program [NOPP]) could serve in this role. Irrespective of whether the FGDC subcommittee or a third party plays this role, there will be the need for a dedicated staff member to locate and mine databases and reports, and to establish a Web-based focal point for agency activities.
Joint Offices for Thematic Coordination
In the 1980s and 1990s, NOAA and USGS supported a joint office for Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) mapping to coordinate the activities of the two agencies and reduce inefficiencies and overlap in costly ocean mapping activities. Using the same rationale, this committee recommends that similar office(s) be established that would house one (Full-time Equivalent) FTE from each of the representative agencies. The mission of such office(s) would be to reduce programmatic, budgetary, and operational overlap by identifying potential or existing areas of duplication as well as opportunities for joint ventures, and then to coordinate the devel-
opment of joint plans, schedules, and budget initiatives. Existing needs for such coordination in coastal mapping and charting thematic areas would include federal activities in:
Source data collection: topographic and bathymetric data acquisition (USGS, NOAA, USACE);
National blended topographic/bathymetric Digital Elevation Models/Digital Depth Models (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, NOAA, USGS);
Derived products for shoreline mapping and coastal erosion hazards (USGS, NOAA, FEMA, USACE).
Specific Target Areas
It is clear from the above examples that significant synergy and cost effectiveness could be achieved if multiple agencies shared resources, data, and tools for endeavors that are similar or, in some cases, even identical. We have suggested mechanisms to help ensure high levels of collaboration and cooperation—we now suggest specific target areas where enhanced cooperation and collaboration are essential:
Data acquisition. There should be an initial focus on coordinating data collection efforts at the land-water interface. Efforts should be made to maximize the types of data acquired using at least topographic LIDAR at low tide and, if possible, bathymetric LIDAR for shallow nearshore waters. Consideration should also be given to collecting multispectral and hyperspectral data and aerial and satellite imagery, to maximize the area of geographic coverage. In addition, planning should begin for a coordinated, interagency, high-resolution shoreline mapping program to establish a baseline condition for periodic resurveys in order to quantify shoreline change rates. These activities should involve FEMA, NASA, NOAA, USACE, and USGS.
Derived products. A number of assessment efforts are underway that could benefit greatly from new or closer coordination through both formal and informal mechanisms involving at least the agencies indicated in the following points.
Shoreline change maps, to involve the Bureau of Land Management, FEMA, NOAA, USACE, and USGS.
Habitat change maps, to involve EPA, FWS, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA-NOS, and USGS.
Hazard vulnerability assessments, to involve FEMA, NOAA, and USGS.
Modeling of coastal inundation, to involve FEMA, NOAA, USACE, and USGS.
Improved data exchange and transfer between federal, state, and local agencies, including improved dissemination of shoreline data via the Internet. FGDC should take a stronger role in supporting these community-based efforts (see Chapter 5).
Research and development to investigate new technologies for shoreline mapping, (e.g., by using LIDAR). Here, NASA’s continued support for development of remote sensing and an increased emphasis by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NOPP on coastal needs would go a long way toward improving the nation’s nearshore and coastal mapping capabilities. The private sector has also been a leader in innovation in this area.
Finally, we cannot ignore the fact that the extraordinarily large population base that depends on the coastal zone can also be a powerful political force. User-driven requests to Congress and to individual agencies from the Coastal States Organization, the Coastal Zone Management Program, and other state and local entities that would benefit from more efficient and standardized federal efforts are an important element of any successful mapping and charting support and coordination strategy. Expanded educational efforts stressing the value and utility of partnered federal and federal/state efforts could be an effective way for the agencies to sensitize Congress and users to the need for additional resources.