Massachusetts Releases New Coastal Mapping Tool

The Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) has released a new coastal mapping tool that provides detailed geographic data for ocean planning, coastal development, tourism, public safety, transportation planning, and marine environmental protection. Development of this new mapping system was made possible through a partnership between the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), the Massachusetts Office of Geographic Information (MassGIS), SeaPlan (formerly Massachusetts Ocean Partnership), and Applied Science Associates (ASA). These organizations have worked with EEA on this project to advance ocean planning and management in Massachusetts state waters.

This interactive mapping tool, which was upgraded from an existing system called Massachusetts Ocean Resource Information System (MORIS), enables users to access detailed geographic data and combine sets of coastal data into new maps to analyze patterns and monitor trends. While this service was designed for use by coastal planners and researchers, it can also be easily used by anyone interested in these data and maps. This online mapping tool improves public access to information about a variety of coastal and ocean features. Information can be viewed on user-friendly maps created by the tool or easily downloaded in many formats.

This new mapping tool makes it possible to view multiple layers of coastal data. Maps can be created to show recent storm activity, shellfish landings, and locations of invasive species and marine pollution. Planners can use the tool to map hot spots for erosion using available shoreline change data. This information can be useful for coastal developers and potential shoreline home buyers. Data on existing ocean infrastructure, seafloor features, and wildlife habitat are also available to support renewable energy project siting and permitting. In addition, the mapping tool features data on pipeline locations, seafloor topography and ferry routes. The maps can be used by recreational anglers to scout fishing access points or by tourists to find out if a hotel sits on the beach. There is information on nautical charts for boaters and dive sites for scuba-diving enthusiasts. There is also an overlay showing the location of the proposed Cape Wind Project in Nantucket Sound.

Upgrades were also made to MassGIS’s Online Data Viewer (OLIVER) system, a land-based mapping system. This application allows users to search, query, display, and download statewide spatial data and parts of surrounding states. Sample data layers include parcels, open space, roads, zoning, land use, wetlands and schools.

Access to these mapping tools, as well as additional mapping resources, can be found at the Free Public Records Directory, Mapping and GIS Records Resources category page. There you can also access a number of mapping resources, such as property assessment records, environmental issues, and crime data. The Free Public Records Directory also provides access to many other types of public records, such as contractor licenses, inmate records, warrants, vital records, and more. Information can be found on the national, state, county and local levels.

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