Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping


Map Once, Use Many Times

Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping (IOCM) is the practice of planning, acquiring, integrating, and sharing ocean and coastal data and related products so that people who need the data can find it and use it easily: Map Once, Use Many Times.

To make the most of limited resources, IOCM outlines 4 key strategic best practices:

Data sharing
This first strategy is intended to make sure that ocean and coastal mapping data that is not yet publicly accessible gets to a data repository/archive where people can discover and use it. With limited time and resources to map all U.S. waters, we want to prevent duplication of effort and focus available resources on surveying areas that have not been previously mapped. At the end of this process, it is critical to publish all previously collected data to the National Centers for Environmental Information to benefit many different types of users.

Coordinated survey planning
After data sharing, the next IOCM practice involves survey planning. Coordinating with partners using tools such as the U.S. Mapping Coordination site for Data Acquisition is a best practice. Coordinated planning and collaboration on data acquisition requirements helps us to eliminate redundant efforts and acquire more data that everyone can use.

Standards development and implementation
Collecting, processing and archiving data to established standards expands its utility for multiple uses. IOCM advocates for following national and international standards and best practices from the first step of mapping data acquisition to processing, classification and data archive,including making sure to have good metadata throughout.

Innovation and technological development
Mapping U.S. waters is a huge task. To meet it, we must explore and develop cost-effective methods and new technologies for efficiency gains. Innovations in unmanned systems, communications and artificial intelligence are just a few examples of opportunities to advance our ocean and coastal mapping capabilities. We can leverage expertise in marine technology development across government, private industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations to find these IOCM solutions

The coordination needed to implement these strategies is multifaceted and benefits from intra- and interagency collaborations, along with related national and international initiatives, to promote the goal to “map once, use many times.” The Interagency Working Group on Ocean and Coastal Mapping brings together federal ocean and coastal mapping agencies committed to this goal. NOAA has a complementary IOCM team within the agency working toward the same objectives.

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The IOCM zone of interest includes U.S. coasts, oceans and the Great Lakes. Ocean and coastal mapping data is broadly defined as the “physical, biological, geological, chemical, and archaeological characteristics and boundaries of ocean and coastal areas, resources, water column and sea beds through the use of acoustics, satellites, aerial photogrammetry, light and imaging, direct sampling, and other mapping technologies” (Ocean and Coastal Mapping Integration Act of 2009).

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