Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps present sensitive biological and human resource data used by NOAA Scientific Support Coordinators, the US Coast Guard, and other responders to identify resources that may be impacted in the event of an oil spill, chemical spill, or natural disaster. ESI maps and data are also used to support Area Contingency Plans and Geographic Response Plans, and post-event damage assessment. Over many years of use the look and feel of ESI maps have remained a consistent but static product for the end user. Research Planning, Inc. (RPI) has developed an ArcGIS toolbar to allow users to create their own thematic maps for an area of their choice using ESI data.

RPI's ESI Toolbar add-in for ESRI's Arc Map allows a user to create custom ESI maps with symbology, layouts, and icons similar to the traditional hardcopy and PDF NOAA ESI map product. The user can zoom to an area of interest, choose a scale, and use custom query tools to decide what data should appear on the map. The map can be exported as a multi-layered GeoPDF that includes the tabular data for the data displayed on the map. Users can add and map their own data, and even symbolize and query these data with ESI symbology if they have certain key fields from the standard NOAA format. For digital users, tools are included for easy click and query of the database, zooming to features selected on the map or in the tables, and filtering the data by user specified criteria (e.g. show me all Least Tern locations in January - March).

The toolbar can use standard NOAA ESI data downloadable from the NOAA OR&R website but also includes tools to set up an Enhanced ESI data set for map production and analysis. The Enhanced ESI data allows the user to apply Present Throughout Boxes that remove some spatial data from the map and describe it as “Present Along Shore” or similar geographic descriptors on a map product while the tabular data still appears in the data tables. Spatial data can also be assigned a scale which will give the user control over which resources draw when zooming and panning in the desktop environment. The Enhanced ESI dataset also includes the ability to upload symbolized map data including ESI style icons and the related tables to ArcGIS Online where it can be displayed and queried online.

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