State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


New Mapper Opens Up Access to Flood Planning in New York State

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.

Display image from the NYS FIDSS mapping tool shows a zoomed-in area of Newburgh, New York, in the lower Hudson River Valley, shows critical infrastructure along the river, vulnerable to flooding.
A zoomed-in area of Newburgh, New York, in the lower Hudson River Valley, shows  infrastructure along the river, vulnerable to flooding. Source: NYS FIDSS Mapper

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.

A display image from the NYS FIDSS mapping tool in full screen mode shows a pop-up window with detailed information on each feature the user selects.
The NYS FIDSS Mapper in full screen mode. Users can select features in the map to display a window with detailed information on each feature.

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.

The lead developers on the NYS FIDSS Mapper are CIESIN senior research staff assistant Juan Martinez and GIS developer/senior systems analyst Kytt MacManus.

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Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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