Map Service Center Enhancements and Related Tools Updates
A number of important changes are coming to FEMA’s Map Service Center (MSC) and related services as the agency continues to improve how we provide information related to the delivery of flood maps. On February 3rd, FEMA will implement changes to the MSC Address Search tool and enhancements to the National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) Viewer. The updates streamline access to the NFHL, and reorganize how some other tools are accessed. These updates help reduce the complexity of FEMA for map users by reducing the steps necessary to get the information they need and providing an authoritative, consolidated view of flood risk.
As you know, FEMA has been working for many years to transition fully to the use of digital flood maps. The changes on February 3rd continue the progress on this transition. Specifically, the changes will direct most users to the NFHL as the primary source for viewing and printing flood hazards information, but users will still be able to access the legacy FIRMette tool.
We have tested these enhancements with a number of internal and external stakeholders and the feedback was very positive. In addition, the input from these users has been incorporated into these latest updates.
There are four primary updates happening:
- Map Service Center Enhancements
o Customers will now be able to view an interactive NFHL map immediately following a search. Previously, customers needed to go to a different site to view the flood zones in an interactive map.
o On the main MSC results page, customers will have the option to view and print a map for their location as a dynamic NFHL-based “FIRMette” (full-scale section of a FIRM formatted to fit on standard printer paper sizes). The NFHL FIRMette shows the current effective information, including recent Letters of Map Revision (LOMR), in a single view.
o Previously, FIRMettes on the MSC could only be produced from static map images. With the older FIRMette Web tool users need to separately review any LOMRs on the map panel to make sure portions of their FIRMette have not been updated.
- National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) Viewer
o FEMA is upgrading the National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) viewer that provides users with a powerful interactive flood map tool for the whole country. The dynamic NFHL shows the current effective information including LOMRs since the most recent flood map revision.
o The updated NFHL viewer will enable community officials and members of the general public to create on-demand printable maps of NFHL data using a FEMA-approved base map and a FEMA-defined map template. Users can create printable NFHL FIRMettes or full-size FIRM panels from the NFHL.
o The updated NFHL viewer combines the previously separate NFHL web map with the beta-version NFHL print tool into a single solution and adds new features.
o The new NFHL viewer will be hosted on the Federal GeoPlatform. This is a government-wide system to which FEMA is migrating many applications that previously were hosted on the FEMA GeoPlatform. The viewer can be accessed directly on the GeoPlatform or through links on the MSC.
o The Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) applications will be accessible on the GeoPlatform at https://hazards-FEMA.maps.arcgis.com
- Preliminary Map Comparison Tool
o The Preliminary Map Comparison Tool will allow customers to see “Preliminary” and “Effective” maps overlaid on one another.
o Regulations require FEMA to publish Preliminary data for public review when updating flood maps for communities.
o The Preliminary review process allows community officials and property owners to see how upcoming changes will affect them, and review the data for accuracy.
o Insurance agents might use the comparison tool to anticipate how their clients may be affected. Real estate agents and mortgage brokers can determine what changes are likely to occur and how they may affect properties for sale.
o With this tool, users can view the new flood hazard information overlaid with the existing information and save or print a report detailing the changes between these two data sets side-by-side for a single point of reference.
o The viewer can be accessed directly on the GeoPlatform or through links from the preliminary data
- FEMA’s Flood Risk Studies Engineering Library (FRISEL)
o The FRiSEL now provides public downloads for engineering models and other supporting data.
o Previously, the FRiSEL was searchable by the public, but its content could not be downloaded.
o This capability provides immediate access to the detailed engineering models and other supporting data for FEMA flood studies for engineers and other technical experts working on flood risk issues.
o The user community for the FRiSEL is different than the MSC, NFHL and Map Change Viewer. Very few members of the general public need or will be able to work with the complex technical data in the FRiSEL.
o For years these data have only been available by request through the FEMA Engineering Library staff which made it slow and costly for requesters to get the information needed.
o The data is highly complex and only relatively recent digital data is available. The Engineering Library staff is still available to assist stakeholders with finding the information they need if users are not able to download it from the FRiSEL. There are fees charged for research support from the Engineering Library staff.
Map Specialists at the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) are available to answer questions about FEMA’s flood hazard maps, available subscription services, online tools, and general site navigation. Call (toll-free): 1-877-FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627), or email FEMAMAPSpecialists@riskmapcds.com