Coastal Structures Mapping and Analysis

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Office of Coastal Zone Management (MCZM) contracted RPS (RPS) to complete mapping and analysis of privately-owned coastal engineering structures along the Massachusetts shoreline to continue the Massachusetts Coastal Infrastructure Inventory and Assessment Project.

Photo courtesy of MCZM

The previous phases of the Massachusetts Coastal Infrastructure Inventory and Assessment Project, completed in 2009, provided an inventory and assessment of publically-owned coastal structures covering approximately 140 miles of the Massachusetts shoreline. The addition of privately-owned structures expanded the database of structures by over 250 miles.


RPS performed data aggregation, coastal structure identification, and attribution and validation of coastal structures. Results were loaded into a GIS database that conformed to the format of previous phases.

A wide variety of data sources were reviewed, acquired and compiled to aid in structure identification, attribute generation and process validation. LiDAR data was collected and compiled to cover the entire Massachusetts coastal area. Aerial photography covering the entire coastal area was collected. Pictometry sources were reviewed for aiding in structure identification. Other GIS data sources were also reviewed and collected for use in the project. Non GIS data sources such as Chapter 91 licenses were also acquired.

Coastal structures were remotely identified in an efficient manner by using a combination of pictometry and aerial photography. Structures were identified and classified by type and material. Structures were digitized using the aerial photography as base map.

Coastal structure attributes were assigned using a combination of automated processes and manual identification. Structures were assigned IDs, location information, etc. using parcel data compiled for all of the coastal towns. Structure heights were determined from project plans, permits and licensing documentation as available. Structure elevations were automatically extracted from LiDAR data using a series of elevation profiles running perpendicular to each structure.

All of the structures were compiled into a GIS database with all of the attribution prepared. Links to structure documents (plans, permits, etc.) were included in the database.

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