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RI Coastal Resources Management Council preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders

CRMC updates its Rights-of-Way online viewer

WAKEFIELD, January 25, 2022 – The R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) with assistance of the URI Coastal Institute has updated its Arc GIS online database containing information on each of the CRMC-designated public rights-of-way (ROW) to the shore.

Initially created in 2014 by then-CRMC intern Emily Robinson, the newly updated version of the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) database includes a map that identifies the location of each ROW with an icon. A click on any of these icons will open a window that includes that particular ROW’s name, its designation number, the means of access it provides, the coastal feature present, and other documentation regarding its designation.

According to Nathan Vinhateiro, assistant director of the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Institute, he and Janet Freedman, retired CRMC coastal geologist, wanted to use the data on the mapping tool to conduct a statewide assessment of ROW sites that might be impacted or impinged by climate change. After reviewing the first iteration, they decided that updating the database would be a beneficial step toward that goal.

The mapping tool has been widely used, and during its nearly eight years in existence, the CRMC has designated additional rights-of-way, photographs have been taken of each, and more information and documentation has been collected on many of the sites. This update was to incorporate those additions, fine-tune the location of the designation points, rectify a few broken links, and modernize the map’s appearance. URI’s Environmental Data Center (EDC) assisted in developing the new platform, and the Coastal Institute volunteered to undertake the effort.

“It was simply time for an update to the interface and that allowed us to also fix some issues in the database that had been identified over the years and to add new designations,” Vinhateiro said. “Getting that [original] data into an electronic GIS database, visiting and photographing sites was a huge and meaningful undertaking” done by Robinson, CRMC’s Kevin Cute, URI’s Dr. Peter August and others.

First, Vinhateiro and Freedman did a systematic review of all of the sites to determine which had issues, including missing data, broken links, errors in location, and redundant files. For sites that required it, the team ground-truthed the ROWs to confirm the proper locations through Google, reviewed maps in the ROW designation files provided by CRMC and compared them to town parcel data, reviewed locations from historic ROW reports, and did site visits to confirm those that were still in question. Cute tracked down and scanned missing ROW designation files, and additional photos were added – both archival CRMC photos as well as new ones. The team then organized all of this into a new interactive Arc GIS application which allows the user to view a ROW position on a map, look at the ROW name, designation and other information, and photos simultaneously. The new application is mobile friendly and has location services, meaning users can see their location in reference to nearby ROWs. Other internal updates were constructed to make the data more organized and easier to update in the future.

“We are incredibly pleased with the improvements to the CRMC ROW mapping tool, and are so thankful for the hard work of Nate, Janet, and the rest of the team,” said CRMC Executive Director Jeff Willis. “This new interface takes advantage of the advances in GIS since the original 2014 version, and puts a fresh face on this compilation of CRMC’s ROW information. Given the ever-increasing interest in shoreline public access, we’re confident people will find this useful and easy to use.”

The revised mapping tool can be found on the CRMC website under Maps or Unlike other ArcGIS applications, there is no log-in required for using this ROW database.


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