Reston, Va.- More than half of all Americans currently live on or near a coast and an additional 12 million are expected to move to the coasts over the next decade. Yet despite this, much of the 95,000 miles of U.S. shoreline does not have current, accurate maps and geospatial information. The need for spatial data is critical to emergency preparedness, emergency response, coastal assessments, conservation and economic growth.

That is why MAPPS applauds the introduction of a bi-partisan bill, H.R. 1382, the "Digital Coast Act of 2013" by U.S. Representatives C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Don Young (R-AK). The bill will authorize a "Digital Coast" program whereby the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would develop a coordinated and comprehensive national mapping effort for coastal, state and territorial waters of the United States.

MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello says, "The 'Digital Coast Act' is needed to realize the concept of a digital and geospatially-enabled view of the nation's coastlines as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The Digital Coast Act provides an opportunity to help America's ocean, coastal and shoreline areas by addressing issues raised by the U.S. Oceans Commission, the Pew Commission, as well as several NAS reports, all of which have highlighted the need for surveying, charting, remote sensing and geospatial data of America's coasts, harbors, ports, shorelines and ocean resources critical to the nation's most basic economic and recreational activities, and to smartly conserve a fragile environment."

MAPPS President Richard "Dick" McDonald, PLS says, "This Digital Coast program within NOAA will also coordinate the pooling of resources from multiple federal, state and local agencies and other stakeholders to map the various needs once, and then utilize and apply the high-quality data and products numerous times thus reducing wasteful duplication while maximizing the return on investment for all stakeholders."

The "Digital Coast" is a geospatially-enabled program to improve coordination and support work with stakeholders to identify geospatial priorities; improve coordination of coastal mapping and management activities; use standards and standardized methods for data acquisition, processing and distribution to ensure broadest utility of data; 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, land use and land cover maps, benthic habitat mapping, terrestrial topography, shallow water bathymetry and submerged aquatic vegetation.