NOAA’s coastal mapping program offers huge taxpayer benefits, report says

Economic study shows value of program to coastal economies

March 28, 2012

aerial imagery.

NOAA collects aerial imagery used to improve the accuracy of shoreline data.

Download here. (Credit: NOAA)

For every dollar American taxpayers spend on NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS) Coastal Mapping Program, they receive more than $35 in benefits, according to a recent independent socio-economic scoping study.

The program provides critical baseline data for accurately mapping America’s official shoreline—important for national security, maritime shipping and navigation, and provides geographical reference data needed to manage, develop, conserve and protect coastal resources. 

The study demonstrates the program’s contributions in marine safety, geographic information, resource management, and emergency response and the wide range of economic and societal activities it supports.

“This is a great investment for taxpayers,” said David Kennedy, assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service. “The coastal mapping program FY11  budget of $6.8 million brought about $241 million annually in both direct and secondary economic benefits, as well as non-economic benefits such as those related to safety and the environment.”

Conducted by Leveson Consulting of Jackson, N.J., the study analyzed the benefits to the nation of NOAA’s Coastal Mapping Program, which enhances coastal economies by providing accurate and consistent shoreline data.

LIDAR imagery.

LIDAR imagery of an area south of San Francisco acquired by the NOAA aircraft.

Download here. (Credit: NOAA)

Direct economic benefits of the program alone were estimated at $100 million—15 times program costs.The study estimated that NGS’s Coastal Mapping Program further supports 1,500 jobs outside of the program. In addition to the economic data, the study also provides information on the program’s customers and their uses of mapping data.

NOAA derives the shoreline data through various remote sensing technologies including aerial imagery, satellite imagery, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), and Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR).

“In 2011, NGS delivered 7,800 miles of shoreline mapping that included 250 miles of California shoreline using new LiDAR-based procedures,” said Juliana Blackwell, NGS director.Through partnerships with other federal agencies in LiDAR acquisition and with continued technological advances, NGS has demonstrated the ability to achieve a threefold increase in efficiency in some of our coastal projects.”

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.