Risk MAP Updates


Map Service Center Enhancements and Related Tools Updates

January 25, 2018

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 3, 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. 

FEMA has been working for many years to transition fully to the use of digital flood maps.  The changes on February 3 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.

There are four primary updates happening:

1.  Map Service Center Enhancements

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

2. National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) Viewer

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • The Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) applications will be accessible on the GeoPlatform at https://hazards-FEMA.maps.arcgis.com

3. Preliminary Map Comparison Tool

    • The Preliminary Map Comparison Tool will allow customers to see “Preliminary” and “Effective” maps overlaid on one another.
    • Regulations require FEMA to publish Preliminary data for public review when updating flood maps for communities.
    • The Preliminary review process allows community officials and property owners to see how upcoming changes will affect them, and review the data for accuracy.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • The viewer can be accessed directly on the GeoPlatform or through links from the preliminary data

4. FEMA’s Flood Risk Studies Engineering Library (FRISEL)

    • The FRiSEL now provides public downloads for engineering models and other supporting data.  Previously, the FRiSEL was searchable by the public, but its content could not be downloaded.
    • 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.
    • The user community for the FRiSEL is different from 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.


FEMA Risk MAP Guidance Updates

September 26, 2017

The FEMA maintains guidelines and standards to support the Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP) Program. These guidelines and standards define the implementation of the statutory and regulatory requirements for the NFIP. These also guide the development of Flood Risk Projects, processing of Letters of Map Change (LOMCs) and related Risk MAP activities. More information is available at FEMA.gov.

FEMA maintains the Risk MAP guidelines and standards and issues updates on an annual basis each November.  For the 2017 Annual cycle, a Public Review for standards was held in August. FEMA is now initiating a review of all guidance, technical references and other resources.

This annual update includes routine maintenance and completion of the transformation of legacy guidelines and specifications to produce new guidance documents that align with the current structure of the Risk MAP Program.  In additional to these updates, there are several more significant changes that FEMA plans to implement that include:

  • establishing guidance for Base Level Engineering (BLE)
  • clarifying how submitters can use Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) or other elevation data for Letters of Map Amendment (LOMAs)
  • updating Flood Risk Product (FRP) requirements based on feedback from FRP users and stakeholders in the Fall of 2016

Major Changes

Base Level Engineering: New content to establish consistent requirements and to support the emerging creation and understanding of Base Level Engineering (BLE).  Affected documents:

  • BLE Guidance (New)
  • Discovery Guidance
  • CNMS Technical Reference
  • FIS Report Technical Reference
  • Domain Tables Technical Reference
  • FIRM Database XML Schema

LiDAR for LOMAs: New/revised content to clarify how submitters can use LiDAR or other elevation data for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA).  Affected document:  MT-1 Technical Guidance


FEMA Risk MAP Guidance Updates

April 2017

FEMA maintains guidelines and standards to support the Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP) Program.  These guidelines and standards define the implementation of the statutory and regulatory requirements for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  These also guide the development of Flood Risk Projects, processing of Letters of Map Change (LOMCs) and related Risk MAP activities.

FEMA routinely updates the Risk MAP guidelines and standards and previously issued updates on a semi-annual basis.  Starting this year (2017), FEMA has adopted a revised approach to focus on one primary update cycle per year to take place each November.  While there may be some smaller, more urgent updates issued in May, these will only occur on an as-needed basis.

For the spring 2017 cycle, there are no standards updates.  There are several planned updates to technical references and guidance documents to align with the Mapping Information Platform (MIP) redesign project.  Because of the timing of this major overhaul of the central management system for Risk MAP, which is expected to be completed this spring, the updates needed to be made at the same time.  Listed below are the guidance and technical reference documents that will updated during the spring 2017 cycle.

FEMA is initiating a review of all guidance and technical references planned for update in May.  If you are interested in reviewing any of the documents listed below, you can access the documents through the Risk Management Directorate SharePoint site and should provide comment through SharePoint.  For stakeholders who do not have SharePoint access, email FEMA.GS@riskmapcds.com to request the documents that you wish to review.

Minor updates – These documents have just a few small changes each.  These are revisions to existing wording, terminology, figures and/or minor workflow steps to align with redesigned MIP elements.

  • Appeal and Comment Processing Guidance
  • Discovery Guidance
  • Database Verification Tool (DVT) Guidance
  • Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) Database Guidance
  • Key Decision Point (KDP) Process Guidance
  • Letter of Final Determination Guidance
  • Metadata Guidance
  • Post-Preliminary Due Process Guidance
  • CNMS Technical Reference

New information or significant changes – These documents include new content, and/or comprehensive revisions to existing content, wording, terminology, figures, and/or major workflow steps to align with redesigned MIP elements.  Additional specifics are listed below:

Mapping Information Platform (MIP) Guidance: A nearly complete overhaul to reflect the MIP redesign with new content to present updated terminology, new or revised tools, revised workbench information, new reports, and new studies workflow diagrams.  The overhaul also includes removal of outdated content.  **Note this document may not be ready for review until Monday April 24.

Data Capture – General Guidance: Updated to reflect new upload and data submission guidance including a discussion about special case set up and delivery (e.g. Levee, Outreach), presentation of new folder structure and Certification of Compliance of Submitted Data Form (i.e. to be used for aerial mapping, H&H, alluvial fans, coastal and regulatory product).

Data Capture – Workflow Details Guidance: Extensive revisions to existing content for all submission guidance (e.g. elevation data, hydraulics, flood risk products, etc.).  New content and / or comprehensive revisions for many of the new features that will be tracked / updated in the MIP including Discovery Preparation, LAMP data submittals, new due process submittals, outreach submittals, and general purchases.

Geospatial Data Coordination (GDC) Guidance: Updated to remove outdated MIP workflow content (e.g. scoping) and a comprehensive update to all items pertaining to the entry of leverage data and how to classify it, as well as changes to the GDC reporting logic and report names.