APA Digital Coast Needs Assessment Survey

A Report on 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

APA acknowledges the NOAA Coastal Services Center and the Digital Coast Partnership for providing the funding for this survey. Without NOAA's support, particularly project contacts Melissa Ladd, Miki Schmidt, Susan Fox, and Zac Hart, this effort would not have been possible. The needs assessment survey was conducted by the following APA staff: Jim Schwab, AICP, Hazards Planning Research Center Manager, and Joe MacDonald, AICP, Senior Research Associate, with the support of Ann Dillemuth, AICP, Research Associate. 


Planners are well suited to understand the value of partnership and collaboration. APA's participation in Digital Coast is a noteworthy example of a partnership whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts, with both the federal government, through NOAA's Coastal Services Center, and the partner organizations all gaining more from their common efforts than they can achieve separately. It was with this in mind that APA undertook the Digital Coast needs assessment survey in its first year of participation in Digital Coast, launching the survey online in November and closing in December 2010.

The aim of this web-based report is to allow users to move easily through the various sections of the survey results, including regional responses to six questions, and to focus on the information they find most relevant and useful. There is a great deal of information in these web pages. We wanted to make it visually appealing and understandable.

Survey Results Organization

What you will find in these pages is information at both the global and regional levels on a series of main topic areas, and subtopics within most of them.

Each of those, except for Constraints, then links to pages that break down the results of that section of the survey.

The Needs page links to three pages breaking out responses concerning three subsets of needs, each of which then links to nine pages of regional results.

Three other sections also link to nine pages each of regional results:

The aim is to let you choose what matters.

In the survey, respondents were asked about various professional characteristics, including location and professional roles; their personal skills and organizational capacity with regard to geospatial technology; issues they confront as planners for coastal communities; the needs they face with regard to data, tools, and training; the constraints they face; and the communication challenges they confront in doing their jobs. Where it was possible to do so, we then also broke those nationwide responses down into regional responses, which will allow you to compare differences among the nine regions we listed in one of our initial questions.


The purpose of this report is 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.

APA is a member of the Digital Coast Partnership, a group of organizations contributing content and focus to the Digital Coast. The Digital Coast is a website hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Services Center to provide coastal and marine geospatial tools, data, training, and information for planners and allied professionals.

APA will use the input garnered through this survey to determine the form and content of future information in Digital Coast that will best meet planning needs.