The Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources (KDA DWR) set out to improve stakeholder participation in Risk MAP projects and draft map reviews. They found that stakeholders are more likely to use food data for mitigation and planning when they have input in reviewing the draft maps. Additionally, community stakeholders can provide local knowledge that improves the accuracy of floodplain maps. Because quality feedback cannot always be obtained during a brief meeting, the traditional method of soliciting comments presenting paper maps at in-person meetings has not always led to satisfactory map review. KDA DWR sought to develop a map review method that stakeholders (communities and the public) could contribute to on their own schedule.
KDA-DWR mapping specialist Tara Lanzrath created a series of online review websites that allow stakeholders to pinpoint locations and offer feedback. The online maps are used during the Kickoff and Map Review project phases. After the Kickoff Meeting, stakeholders can access the detailed online scoping maps and submit comments on the project and modeling scope. Once the draft mapping is ready, stakeholders can use the web maps to review the new mapping, and the public can use the online tool to see if map changes will affect their property. The Changes Since Last FIRM layer is also used where available. Users can create and submit comments using polygons to focus on specific locations of interest, then add comments using a text box. No shapefile download is required to view the web portal, so even users in rural areas with limited broadband access can contribute. Community and public draft review periods occur prior to Preliminary status, so pertinent comments can be incorporated into the draft mapping.
The web review portal has dramatically improved the user experience and facilitated higher-quality map reviews. Using Google Analytics to determine usage, the most-visited web review map received 629 unique page views over a period of three months. On average, users spent over six minutes interacting with the page. Helping the same number of stakeholders spend six minutes interacting with a draft paper map during a public meeting would not have been possible. Review by many stakeholders can help optimize map quality.
The web review tools support KDA-DWR’s implementation of SID 620. Scoping review web maps display the selected modeling for a project in a detailed but engaging format and allow communities to comment on the appropriateness of the modeling quickly and within the 30-day consultation period. The use of online review also advances the ability to meet the upcoming Awareness Metric. Widespread online map review has reduced the occurrence and future likelihood of appeals. Because links to the review maps are provided through emailed project updates, more elected officials are aware of mapping changes and project details. Community officials and the public have stated that they like the online format.
The key lesson learned from this project is the value of innovative technology. KDA-DWR’s online map review process shows the benefits of transitioning from a pen-and-paper review process to a digital review process. In today’s world of on-demand digital media, stakeholders value the flexibility of being able to comment on a scoping or draft map whenever their schedule allows. We have also learned that the ease of sending links to the web review maps allows community officials to supply answers to curious members of the public, which raises community awareness and the visibility of our Risk MAP projects.
Project Web Pages
In addition to online draft map review, KDA-DWR utilizes project web pages to provide the public with project information and details. Project web pages are created for each Risk MAP project and serve as the public repository for project documents. Stakeholders can access project scoping and schedule information, meeting presentations, technical reports, and the project web review maps. Project web pages not only provide an easy way for community officials to spread awareness of our projects, but they also provide the Cooperating Technical Partner with an easier method of exchanging information, which saves valuable time.
KDA-DWR mapping specialist: Tara.Lanzrath@ks.gov