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:
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. If you have existing data to share, please let us know at our mapping
data contribution page.
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
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.
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).