A Suite of Community Rating System Resources

As part of the NOAA Digital Coast Partnership’s mission to provide tools and data that prioritize nature-based adaptation solutions, TNC is excited to announce the launch of a suite of new products developed with Esri to help communities reduce their flood risk, make flood insurance more affordable, and increase their resilience through FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS). Part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), CRS is a voluntary incentive program that provides flood insurance discounts to communities that engage in activities to reduce flood risk.

Assess Open Space to Lower Flood Insurance Cost,” a new lesson from Learn ArcGIS, shows how a South Carolina community used a specific CRS activity, Open Space Preservation (OSP), to provide homeowners with the biggest potential discount. OSP awards points for keeping areas in the floodplain legally protected from development, such as a park or nature preserve. The lesson walks GIS practitioners through how to download and analyze the newly released raster dataset titled “OSP Activity 420 for FEMA’s CRS.”

This dataset incorporates a combination of the Protected Areas Database of the US (PADUS), the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD), and the National Land Cover Database’s Impervious Surface Estimation layer to identify land across the country that is likely eligible for OSP credit. It can be found through a search of Esri’s Living Atlas of the World and accessed after logging in to any existing ArcGIS organizational account. If your organization doesn’t have an account, you can easily create one for free with only your name and email. The workflow and data presented in this lesson represent a significant improvement for how the more than 22,000 NFIP communities across the nation can more effectively participate in the CRS program. Previously, many inland or rural communities that did not have access to high resolution data assumed they could not successfully participate in the program. However, this lesson provides a method for any community to use the publicly available, and first-of-its-kind, national Living Atlas layer to inform the parcel-scale OSP analysis required to receive program benefits.

These products are accompanied by a story map that explains the economic and risk reduction benefits of open space preservation,  provides an overview of the comprehensive suite of CRS resources developed by the Digital Coast Partnership, and provides key questions to identify which tool is most appropriate for a certain community’s GIS capacity and current standing in the program. The release of these products is especially timely as the severity of recent storms has brought renewed attention to more progressive floodplain management. To learn more about TNC and NOAA’s CRS Strategy, and other CRS products, visit our Open Space page.