An accessible new mapping tool will make it easier for individuals and communities to plan for flooding and sea level rise. Developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) at Columbia Climate School’s CIESIN, the mapper visualizes spatial data for infrastructure across nearly all of New York State, except New York City. The New York Flood Impact Support System Application (NYS FIDSS) is unique because it contains digitized data for every building footprint in the included areas. It is highly interactive and accessible, ensuring that historically underrepresented communities can create comprehensive flood scenarios for planning, response, and policy making.
The easy interface of the NYS FIDSS Mapper means users don’t need GIS knowledge or complex software — only access to the Internet. This broadens the potential pool of users and lets communities with fewer resources enhance their flood planning capabilities, in line with the aims of the new NASA Open Science initiative to more openly share software, data, and knowledge to advance inclusiveness and improve social justice. The Mapper includes a data set based on the Centers for Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index, allowing users to visualize social vulnerability for areas impacted by flooding. The index displays fine-grained information about social conditions of the population in a particular area, including economic level, who is in the household, minority status, dwelling places, the ability to understand English, and access to transport—details of social life that can provide fundamental insight into the relative vulnerability of a population. This can help target flood planning resources and aid to the areas that most need it—before, during, or after a flood event.
The NYS FIDSS mapper is based on results from the project New York State Building Footprints with Flood Analysis, which provides infrastructure data for all New York State counties excluding New York City. It also includes data on areas bordering the lower Hudson River Valley and Westchester‘s Long Island Sound shoreline, from the Hudson River Flood Impact Decision Support System, a flood assessment mapping tool developed by CIESIN under support from NYSERDA. The mapper also provides infrastructure, flooding, and socioeconomic data layers at the local level from the Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN), whose members from academia, including CIESIN, conducted stakeholder-driven research to reduce climate vulnerability in the urban Northeast United States, supported by NOAA.