Mapping impervious surfaces for stormwater management is one of the most prevalent use cases we see organizations around the world using geospatial data for. As both the natural and manmade environments evolve rapidly, maintaining a digital source of truth for diverse types of land cover and how they change over time is an integral part of climate resilience strategies.
At Ecopia, we partner with both the private and public sector to develop comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date stormwater maps for critical decision-making. Each community has its own unique needs when it comes to climate resilience and the geospatial data involved in stormwater analysis. To give you an idea of how AI-powered mapping data is transforming climate resilience workflows, here are seven examples of ways organizations around the world are leveraging high-precision land cover data to enhance their stormwater mapping and impervious surface analysis.
1. Stormwater infrastructure management
A sample of land cover provided to the City of Jacksonville by Ecopia
The City of Jacksonville has long relied on geospatial analytics for stormwater decision-making. The Department of Public Works leverages land cover data not only for planning and monitoring stormwater infrastructure, but also for determining stormwater utility fees (SUFs) that help fund the maintenance of this infrastructure.
However, the City found that keeping their detailed maps and data up-to-date with a dynamically changing world was time-consuming and expensive to do manually across their 363,272 parcels of land. By partnering with Ecopia, the City was able to procure 21 layers of high-precision pervious and impervious surface land cover data in just four weeks, all for 84% less than the cost of similar data offerings. Now, the Department of Public Works has a reliable source of truth for land cover in the area, and can spend time on actual analysis and planning instead of tedious manual feature digitization.
An example of the 1m resolution data NOAA is able to provide coastal communities through its partnership with Ecopia
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management (OCM) is responsible for supporting the environmental, social, and economic well-being of the US coast by linking people, information, and technology. The agency’s Digital Coast website facilitates this mission by providing land cover data to communities and organizations to leverage in their geospatial analyses.
Keeping data up-to-date with a changing environment is critical in all locations, but especially in coastal communities that are increasingly susceptible to natural hazards. To equip these communities with the data needed for actionable stormwater analysis, NOAA provides high-precision land cover data through their Digital Coast website. While 10-30 meter resolution datasets were helpful for understanding land cover at a high level, NOAA partnered with Ecopia to produce a layer of 1 meter resolution data for increased granularity. With this more detailed data, coastal communities can better detect change in land cover and develop hazard mitigation strategies based on up-to-date, high-precision information. Going forward, NOAA plans to partner with other federal agencies and Ecopia to support a similar nationwide dataset that will be sustained through routine updates.
A sample of impervious surface data produced by Ecopia for the City of Detroit
Another municipality relying on impervious surface mapping for critical workflows is the City of Detroit. As the City redevelops their existing landscape to transition to more green infrastructure, calculating SUFs accurately is a key element to funding various public works projects. Calculating these SUFs requires accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive land cover data, which the City struggled to maintain manually in a rapidly changing world.
Like other cities around the world, the City of Detroit partners with Ecopia to extract high-precision land cover data from geospatial imagery and create an annually updated source of truth for impervious surfaces to use in SUF calculation. Through this partnership and Ecopia’s standardized methodology for detecting and mapping change year-over-year, the City can confidently analyze changes in impervious surfaces over time to optimize SUFs. Leveraging Ecopia’s up-to-date impervious surface layers, the City uncovered an average annual change in land cover of about 2%, resulting in a discrepancy of approximately $5.6M - revenue that is now collected and used to fund more stormwater and green infrastructure projects throughout the community.
4. Predicting stormwater effects with flood models
A sample of land cover Ecopia extracted for the City of Peterborough’s flood modeling
Flood modeling is a key component of the Canadian City of Peterborough’s stormwater management strategy. Following a catastrophic flood in 2004, the City has doubled down on leveraging geospatial data and mapping analysis to understand land cover’s impact on flooding and better prepare for future stormwater events.
Like other municipalities worldwide, the City struggled with maintaining an up-to-date, detailed, and accurate dataset in a dynamically changing world. By partnering with Ecopia and consulting firm Jacobs, the City was able to develop an integrated flood model (IFM) from one consistent source of land cover data, and is continually updating the IFM to reflect real-world change. The IFM, powered by a 2D surface mesh of Ecopia’s land cover data, is a critical tool for the City to forecast future flooding scenarios, prioritize stormwater infrastructure projects, and ultimately foster a more resilient community.
Specifically, the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services leverages Ecopia-provided traffic median, tree canopy, street tree, bus pad, and highlighted speed bump data in their mapping workflows. These layers help the City identify ideal locations for medians that not only help with traffic flow, but also convey water for stormwater management purposes and serve as functional greenspaces, fostering a more liveable community for its residents.
A sample of land cover provided to SEMCOG for tree canopy and flood management by Ecopia
The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) also uses Ecopia land cover data for multipurpose mapping projects related to climate resilience and stormwater management. Spanning a 7-county region, SEMCOG oversees geospatial projects related to green infrastructure planning, pedestrian safety and traffic engineering, and stormwater and flood management. After successfully partnering with Ecopia on a transportation project, mapping more than 24,000 linear miles of sidewalks and crosswalks to understand accessibility in the region, SEMCOG expanded the relationship to include land cover data for stormwater mapping.
Now SEMCOG utilizes map layers of buildings, sidewalks, driveways, roads, parking lots, railways, driveways, pavement, grass, bareland, trees, tree canopy, and water bodies, digitized by Ecopia’s AI-based mapping systems. These high-precision map layers enable stormwater stakeholders to better understand land cover in the area and its impact on future flooding scenarios.
A sample of land cover data digitized by Ecopia for the King County GIS Center
King County, Washington is another example of a government applying comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date land cover data for public sector decision-making. To avoid using piecemeal datasets of varying quality and vintage, the King County GIS Center partnered with Ecopia to extract reliable and up-to-date land cover data across their more than 2,300 square mile area of interest.
In just under 8 weeks, Ecopia provided King County with 16 planimetric-level land cover layers representing all natural and impervious surfaces. The data supports a variety of initiatives across the county, including enhanced flood modeling and risk assessments, more accurate and timely stormwater assessments, wildlife restoration programs, and strategic climate action plans. Additionally, the data is being used to support transportation planning and social justice projects, ultimately helping the County improve day-to-day life for its residents.
These are just a few examples of ways Ecopia empowers all levels of government to better understand the environment and how it impacts communities around the world. To get started with stormwater mapping and impervious surface data, get in touch with Ecopia’s public sector team who are experts in the variety of use cases for high-precision map data.
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Impervious Surface Mapping Examples for Stormwater Analysis