US, September 19, 2014: US Senator Tammy Baldwin on September 18 introduced the Digital Coast Act to help Wisconsin communities along the Great Lakes better prepare for storms, cope with varying lake levels, and strengthen economic development planning efforts along the shore.
Introducing the bill, Senator Baldwin said, “This bill ensures that our coastal communities have the resources and tools they need to adapt to changing environmental conditions, maintain healthy shores, and make smart planning decisions to support their local economies and way of life.”
The Digital Coast is a geospatially-enabled program to perk up coordination and support work with stakeholders to spot geospatial priorities; better coordination of coastal mapping and management activities; deploy standardised methods for data acquisition, processing, and distribution; 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, benthic habitat mapping, land use and land cover maps, terrestrial topography, submerged aquatic vegetation and shallow water bathymetry.
Currently, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) assembles and hosts the Digital Coast Project. NOAA also trains coastal communities how to decipher and use the high-tech mapping data to make accurate decisions and smart investments in coastal communities.
Baldwin’s Digital Coast Act authorises the next phase in coastal mapping at NOAA by ensuring that coastal managers and developers will continue to have the data to make smart choices for economic development, shoreline management and coastal restoration. The Act supports further development of the current project, including increasing access to uniform, up-to-date data, to help communities get the coastal data they need to respond to emergencies, plan for long-term coastal resilience, and manage their water resources.
MAPPS, the national association of private sector geospatial firms, has welcomed the move. MAPPS President Jeff Lower said, "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. 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."