Goals and Objectives


The broadest goal of the project is to serve NOAA and the nation through support of NOAA’s role in promotion of resilient coastal communities, coastal zone protection and management, and a safe, efficient, and environmentally sound marine transportation system. For the project, our specific goals are:

  • Improve the efficiency in survey operations conducted in support of post-storm disaster recovery. This is a reflection of the difficulties in effective response to a storm event, and the need to rapidly deliver emergency services to coastal communities devastated by wind damage, flooding and utility outages.
  • Raise the level of awareness of good processing, data collection, and management techniques to support protection, restoration and management of near-shore, coastal and ocean resources. This supports best scientific practice in hydrographic and ocean mapping, providing the best available tools and procedures for storm responses.
  • Support flexible and efficient planning and preparedness for, and response to, significant storm events through provision of widely disseminated data products, services and protocols. Good planning starts with good data, and the means to use it.


We support the three general goals through four primary objectives that focus on themes of object detection, limitations of performance, and product creation, along with engagement and communications of the research outcomes. Specifically, we aim to:

  • Develop methods for automatic detection, aggregation and characterization of submerged marine debris. Successfully fulfilling this objective will provide information vital to disaster response activities, feeding into the first goal of supporting first responders during the immediate aftermath, and secondary activities of restoration thereafter. Another outcome of this objective will be a sound understanding of the best practices and standard operating procedures necessary to take best advantage of the data being collected, feeding to the second goal of best scientific practice. This objective is designed to be agnostic as to the data sources used, since we expect to use multiple sources in conjunction, and achieve results that will answer multiple uses. For example, the same techniques that automatically find objects for marine debris cleanup prioritization can be used to detect objects of navigational significance for nautical charting purposes.
  • Examine the performance envelope of various remote sensing methodologies for use in disaster recovery survey operations. In an emergency response situation, resources are often spread thin, which enjoins us to use them most efficiently. Unless we understand their limits, alone and in combination, it is very difficult to make rational resource allocation decisions. Success in this objective will assist in our first goal, particularly in survey planning, and in our second goal, by informing best practice for the systems in question.
  • Develop methodologies to construct information relevant to coastal zone planning, disaster response and community preparedness from a combination of remotely sensed data sets, and the efficient communication of these products to decision-makers, stakeholders, and the public. Data only becomes information when it has been interpreted, and information that is not adequately presented is effectively useless. Success in this objective will feed into our second goal by establishing recommended procedures for data processing and presentation, and into our third goal by establishing the routes by which information is made available for decision making and planning.
  • Engage decision-makers, stakeholders and the general public in understanding the science involved in marine debris management, ocean mapping and disaster response through appropriate tools, datasets and interactive visualizations. As scientists, we should feel a compulsion to explain both what we do, and what it means, to the communities that (at some remove) fund it. Although less defined than our other objectives, success here would address primarily our third goal by communicating, in a manner appropriate to the audience, why the research we are doing matters, what it means for them, and how they can become involved in the process themselves. If planning cannot happen in a vacuum, satisfying this objective is one way to provide the information that fills the void.