NOAA Digital Coast

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In July 2010, APA joined the Digital Coast partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coastal Services Center. This made APA the sixth and newest member of the partnership, which was launched in 2008. Partners are listed in the column at right.

NOAA had been looking to expand its partnership, and APA was eager to offer its services to help find new ways to help planners in coastal communities do their jobs better with improved access to and understanding of the new tools and resources offered by Digital Coast.

NOAA and APA worked out a scope of work for APA in a meeting at APA's Chicago office on June 22, 2010. APA has received annual funding to underwrite its participation in Digital Coast.

APA entered its third year of participation in the partnership on April 1, 2012. Its scope of work for the third year includes the following major items:

  • Keep APA members aware of Digital Coast events, products, and services. Promote Digital Coast using appropriate APA communication tools.
  • Participate in in-person and telephone conference meetings.
  • Seek joint opportunities with other Digital Coast partners to demonstrate Digital Coast applicability to the end user. This may include attending or presenting at another partner’s conference on Digital Coast applicability to the users.
  • Gather information on how APA members are using Digital Coast products and services in their community, and work with NOAA contacts to develop at least three "In Action" case studies illustrating how Digital Coast is being used by coastal planners.
  • Support the development of the next partnership group project, a pilot effort in Mississippi, by incorporating Hazards Planning Research Center information and knowledge, and building on needs of local Mississippi planners identified at a local 2012 workshop.
  • Support the current Great Lakes partnership project "Assessing Coastal Hazards in Great Lakes Communities: Interactive Technical Assistance Guide and Regional Training and Outreach Strategy."
  • Review updates and new products on the Digital Coast website, incorporating member feedback when appropriate, helping to ensure that this resource is useful for APA members.
  • Encourage membership engagement in Digital Coast activities.

For the first year, the scope of work included the following major items:

  • Participation in Digital Coast meetings. Digital Coast partners meet twice annually, in the spring and fall, to plan new initiatives, map out strategic direction for the partnership, and exchange ideas and information. In addition, conference calls help maintain momentum and focus during other parts of the year.
  • Use APA outreach mechanisms to highlight Digital Coast products. The partnership is really an exchange. Partners not only promote access to and use of Digital Coast products, including online mapping and visualization tools, but they review those products while in development, offer refinements and critiques to make them better, and even offer ideas for new products. At the same time, both on this website and through numerous APA publications and conference venues, we can explain to APA members what is available, what value it seems to hold for planning practice, and how best to use Digital Coast tools and resources, but also gather member input to help improve what Digital Coast offers. Many of these are online tools and resources aimed at helping planners explain to policy makers and the public the critical choices affecting coastal communities with regard to sea level rise, natural hazards, marine spatial planning, the coastal environment, and economic development. Among recent tools available, for example, is NOAA's Coastal Inundation Toolkit.
  • Conduct APA Membership Needs Assessment. In November 2010, APA will make available to its membership an online needs assessment survey. This survey, designed cooperatively by NOAA Coastal Services Center and APA Research staff, seeks to determine current capacity and skills among APA members with regard to use of geospatial tools for coastal planning, as well as what needs planners experience in coastal communities with regard to information gaps and communicating with decision makers, among other considerations. If you currently serve or work in a coastal community, or have done so in the past, please participate in the needs assessment survey, which will be available online between November 1 and December 10. The survey results will inform Digital Coast products and services going forward by telling us what APA members need and why. The results of this survey will be presented in a special facilitated discussion at the APA National Planning Conference in Boston, April 9-12, 2011, as a means of gaining additional input.
  • Certify NOAA as a provider of AICP Certification Maintenance credits. This final task for the year ending January 31, 2011, will make a wide array of NOAA training offerings available to AICP members for professional credits while also highlighting for them a number of new opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge with regard to coastal, environmental, and climate change issues.


Your suggestions are welcome and may be submitted to

The Social Coast Forum

Economic, social, and cultural values and beliefs greatly influence behavior and decision making. Understanding feelings and perceptions can have a tremendous impact on coastal management efforts.

The Social Coast Forum is all about the "people" side of coastal management. Submit an abstract today. Abstracts must be submitted by October 9, 2015.

Digital Coast Data Registry Webinars

The Digital Coast has just unveiled a new one-stop shop for data and services known as the Digital Coast Data Registry. Webinar participants will learn how to use the data registry, how to access and download data, view a live demonstration of the data registry, and learn all about registry contributors.

Get details

Training on Managing Visitor Use in Coastal and Marine Protected Areas

NOAA Coastal Services Center is sponsoring a two-day course designed to identify and define unacceptable visitor use impacts to natural resources and visitors' experiences and explore strategies and tactics to address them. The training is offered at minimal cost to participants and host organizations.

Get information and apply

Digital Coast Needs Assessment Survey

After compiling and organizing data from nearly 700 APA members who completed the Digital Coast Needs Assessment Survey in late 2010, APA's Hazards Planning Research Center has completed the final report of survey results.

Complete survey results

Outreach Opportunities

Part of the express purpose of APA participation in the Digital Coast partnership is to facilitate outreach to APA members concerning Digital Coast training, tools, services, and resources. Aside from sessions and presentations at the APA National Planning Conference, this can include presentations on Digital Coast and coastal planning issues at any of the APA chapter conferences in 30 states listed in the Coastal Zone Management Act. These include all states along the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Great Lakes.

To inquire about including sessions or other presentations by APA Research or NOAA Digital Coast staff at chapter or section conferences or other functions, contact us at

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Digital Coast Products

Digital Coast Webinars

Introduces Digital Coast tools and data through demonstrations, case studies, and opportunities to engage with other professionals. Available for CM credit.


Tools and Resources

We suggest taking a close look at the following:

Coastal Inundation Toolkit

Habitat Priority Planner

Coastal County Snapshots

Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flood Frequency Viewer

CanVis Simulation Tool

Land Cover Atlas