Stories From The Field

Filling Data Gaps for Coastal Planning in Georgia

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Issue

During a routine five-year federal review, the Georgia Coastal Management Program recognized gaps in data for planning purposes, particularly to address the possibility of offshore wind development. A wide variety of data is required to determine suitable locations for wind farms, understand environmental impacts of development, and highlight potential regulatory hurdles for developers. To address this deficiency, the coastal program needed a central location to access required information and employ its motto of “Faster, Friendlier, Easier.”

Process

The coastal program developed a portal to provide access to spatial data related to offshore wind development—the Georgia Coastal and Marine Planner—by funding the Georgia Tech Center for Geographic Information Systems and Strategic Energy Institute. Data were organized into six categories: jurisdictions and boundaries, human use, natural resources and habitat, marine life, and physical. During this five-year project, the first three years were spent on data and portal development. The project team gathered many key data sets from MarineCadastre.gov, including administrative boundaries, navigable waterways, aids to navigation, unexploded ordnance, and sediment maps. Ongoing work continues on the portal and future work includes summary tools to allow quantitative analysis of data in an area of interest.

Impact

While the Georgia Coastal and Marine Planner began with a focus on offshore wind, it has evolved into a resource the coastal program will use to evaluate many of its projects and proposals. Specialized interactive maps have been designed for energy, fisheries, and habitat to facilitate these processes and take advantage of the data in the portal. This site provides data to multiple users, including staff members, the public, and other coastal managers.

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