APA Digital Coast Needs Assessment Survey

Conclusion

The purpose of this report was to outline the coastal and marine geospatial tools, data, training, and information needs of APA members involved in planning coastal communities along a marine coast, tidal estuary, or the Great Lakes. As a member of the Digital Coast Partnership, APA wanted to ascertain the needs of its members to share with the other organizations of the Digital Coast. APA and NOAA will use the following key results of this survey to determine the form and content of future information in Digital Coast that will best meet planning needs.

First, most respondents to this survey are professional planners; the respondents represent all coastal regions of the United States and its territories; and they have primarily served (or are currently serving) in the public sector.

Second, most respondents are at least competent in the use of geospatial technology, though they fall short of expert-level status. Most work for organizations that use geospatial technology frequently; most feel their organizations are cognizant of the capabilities of geospatial technology; and most report their organizations both create and disseminate geospatial data. However, most also feel their organizations do not provide all training required, nor the funds for sufficient investment in geospatial technology.

Among applicable issues for coastal planning practice/analysis/research, the most important are land use planning, growth management, and conservation. The least important are commercial fishing and subsidence. The issues least applicable for coastal planning practice/analysis/research are tsunamis, commercial fishing, and subsidence.

Planners have many data needs for coastal planning practice/analysis/research. Planners need current data on land elevation and archaeological/cultural resources. Planners need time-series data on land cover, land cover change, and land use. Planners need data projections for relative sea-level rise and risk management. Planners have least need for navigational data and bathymetric elevation.

Planners have need for current NOAA Digital Coast geospatial tools. Among applicable tools, the most important are the Impervious Surface Analysis Tool and Coastal County Snapshots. The least important are the Electronic Navigational Chart Handler and the Practitioner's Toolkit for Marine Conservation Agreements. The tools least applicable for coastal planners are the Historical Hurricane Tracks IMS and Nautical Chart Viewer.

The biggest challenges planners face in using coastal data and tools: not knowing what data and information are available and lack of trained staff.

Planners show interest for current NOAA Digital Coast training programs. Among applicable training programs, those of most interest are GIS Tools for Strategic Conservation Planning and Coastal Inundation Mapping. Those of least interest are Assessing GIS for Your Organization, Coastal Inundation Mapping, and Remote Sensing for Spatial Analysts. The training programs least applicable for coastal planners are Coastal Inundation Mapping and N-SPECT and Roadmap for Adapting to Coastal Risk.

Communicating coastal and marine planning information to users of this information is more difficult for planners than it is easy. Some of the more difficult information to communicate to users includes benefits of limiting development in high-risk areas and risks posed by sea-level rise. However, more than 20 percent of respondents reported no difficulty communicating with users.

Primary challenges communicating planning information to decision makers are competition between diverse community interests and values and lack of immediacy or urgency connected with the issue. However planners utilize certain types of media to successfully communicate about planning with decision makers: maps and PowerPoint presentations are the most popular.