[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 40 (Friday, February 28, 2014)]
[Pages 11461-11462]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-04392]



U.S. Geological Survey


Agency Information Collection Activities: Request for Comments

AGENCY: United States Geological Survey (USGS), Interior.

ACTION: Notice of a new information collection, iCoast--Did the Coast 


SUMMARY: We (the U.S. Geological Survey) will ask the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) to approve the information collection (IC) 
described below. As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 
1995, and as part of our continuing efforts to reduce paperwork and 
respondent burden, we invite the general public and other Federal 
agencies to take this opportunity to comment on this IC.

DATES: To ensure that your comments are considered, we must receive 
them on or before April 29, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this information collection to 
the Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Geological Survey, 
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive MS 807, Reston, VA 20192 (mail); (703) 648-
7197 (fax); or dgovoni@usgs.gov (email). Please reference `Information 
Collection 1028-NEW, iCoast--Did the Coast Change?' in all 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sophia B. Liu, Research Geographer, at 


I. Abstract

    As part of its mission to document coastal change, the USGS has 
been taking aerial photographs of the coast before and after each major 
storm for the past 18 years to assess damages to the natural landscape 
and the built environment. A typical mission consists of approximately 
10,000 photographs. The digital photo-archive maintained by the USGS is 
a valuable environmental record containing approximately 100,000 
photographs taken before and after 23 extreme storms along the Gulf and 
Atlantic Coasts. At the same time, the USGS has been developing 
mathematical models that predict the likely interactions between storm 
surge and coastal features, such as beaches and dunes, during extreme 
storms, with the aim of predicting areas that are vulnerable to storm 
damage. Currently the photographs are not used to inform the 
mathematical models. The models are based primarily on pre-storm dune 
height and predicted wave behavior.
    If scientists could ``ground truth'' coastal damage by comparing 
before and after photographs of the coast, the predictive models might 
be improved. It is not physically or economically possible for USGS 
scientists to examine all aerial photographs related to each storm, 
however, and automation of this process is also problematic. Image 
analysis software is not yet sophisticated enough to automatically 
identify damages to the natural landscape and the built environment 
that are depicted in these photographs; human perception and local 
knowledge are required. `iCoast--Did the Coast Change?' (hereafter 
referred to as `iCoast') is a USGS research project to construct a web-
based application that will allow citizen volunteers to compare these 
before and after photographs of the coast and identify changes that 
result from extreme storms through a process known as `crowdsourcing' 
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing). In concept, this 
application will be similar to those of other citizen science image 
comparison and classification projects such as the Citizen Science 
Alliance's Cyclone Center project, (see www.cyclonecenter.org), which 
asks people to classify types of cyclones by comparing satellite 
    There are two distinct purposes to `iCoast':
     To allow USGS scientists to `ground truth' or validate 
their predictive storm surge models. These mathematical models, which 
are widely used in the emergency management community for locating 
areas of potential vulnerability to incoming storms, are currently 
based solely on pre-storm beach morphology as determined by high-
resolution elevation data, and predicted wave behavior derived from 
parameters of the approaching storm. The on-the-ground post-storm 
observations provided by citizens using `iCoast' will allow scientists 
to determine the accuracy of the models for future applications, and
     To serve as a repository of images that enables citizens 
to become more aware of their vulnerability to coastal change and to 
participate in the advancement of coastal science.
    The application consists of sets of before-and-after photographs 
from each storm with accompanying educational material about coastal 
hazards. Since the photographs of a given area were taken on different 
dates following slightly different flight paths, the geographic 
orientation of before and after images may differ slightly. Often there 
will be more than one image covering approximately the same geographic 
area and showing the same coastal features. Participants are asked to 
identify which post-storm image best covers the same geographic area 
and shows the same natural and man-made features as the image taken 
after the storm. After the best match between before-and-after aerial 
photographs is established, participants will classify post-storm 
coastal damage using simple one-or-two word descriptive tags. This type 
of tagging is similar to that used in commercial photo-sharing Web 
sites such as Flickr (www.flickr.com). Each participant will classify 
photographs of their choice. They may classify as many photographs as 
they wish in as many sessions as they choose.
    In order for a citizen to participate in classifying the 
photographs, the following information must be collected by this 
    (1) Participants will login to the `iCoast' application using 
externally issued credentials via the Federally approved ``Open 
Identity Exchange'' (www.openid.net) method. This Federal Government 
program benefits users by accelerating their sign up, reducing the 
frustration of maintaining multiple passwords, allowing them to control 
their own identity, and minimizing password security risks. User

[[Page 11462]]

credentials will be managed and authenticated by Google, an Identity 
Provider approved by the Federal Government. During the login process 
participants will be redirected to a Google owned and operated login 
page. Following successful authentication of Id and password, 
participants are asked by Google to confirm agreement to their Google 
email address being shared with `iCoast'. Users have the option to 
decline this and halt the login process with no information shared to 
`iCoast'. If a participant accepts the sharing of their email address 
then the USGS will store the address within the `iCoast' database. 
`iCoast' is never supplied nor does it request a participant's password 
directly. Storing of the participant's email address by `iCoast' is 
necessary to permit the pairing of Google login credentials with their 
`iCoast' profile. The USGS will encrypt all stored participant email 
addresses. No other information or Google account access is shared by 
Google to `iCoast' and nothing is shared from `iCoast' to Google at any 
    (2) Level of expertise: At initial log in to `iCoast', the 
participant will be asked to indicate what type of `crowd' or group he 
or she belongs to by picking from a pre-determined list (e.g. coastal 
scientist, coastal planner, coastal resident, general public etc.). The 
participant may also optionally contribute his or her professional 
affiliation in an open text box, but this is not required. Professional 
affiliation may provide additional information to the scientists to 
more fully assess the accuracy of a participant's classifications. 
Provision of level of expertise alone will not allow an individual to 
be personally identified.
    (3) Keyword tagging: After comparing pre-and post-storm aerial 
photographs, participants can select predefined keyword tags OR they 
can submit their own in a free-form text field. The keyword tags will 
help the USGS determine classification accuracy, and confirm or refute 
pre-storm predictions of coastal inundation and damage derived from the 
mathematical storm surge models.
    This application will have many benefits. It will serve the cause 
of open government and open data, in that these images will be 
available to the public in an easily accessible online format for the 
first time. It will enhance the science of coastal change and allow for 
more accurate storm surge predictions, benefitting emergency managers 
and coastal planners. It will also familiarize coastal communities with 
coastal processes and increase their awareness of vulnerabilities to 
extreme storms. We anticipate that this application will be used by 
educators to further science, technology, engineering and mathematics 
(STEM) education; outreach to educators is planned.
    OMB Control Number: 1028-NEW.
    Title: iCoast--Did the Coast Change?
    Type of Request: New information collection.
    Affected Public: Coastal scientists, coastal managers, marine 
science students, emergency managers, citizens/residents of coastal 
    Respondent's Obligation: None. Participation is voluntary.
    Frequency of Collection: Occasional.
    Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 1000.
    Estimated Total Number of Annual Responses: 2500.
    Estimated Time per Response: 30 minutes.
    Estimated Annual Burden Hours: 1250.
    Estimated Reporting and Recordkeeping ``Non-Hour Cost'' Burden: 
    Public Disclosure Statement: The PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.) 
provides that an agency may not conduct or sponsor and you are not 
required to respond to a collection of information unless it is 
approved by the OMB and displays a valid OMB control number and current 
expiration date.

III. Request for Comments

    We are soliciting comments as to: (a) Whether the proposed 
collection of information is necessary for the agency to perform its 
duties, including whether the information is useful; (b) the accuracy 
of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of 
information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, usefulness, and clarity 
of the information to be collected; and (d) how to minimize the burden 
on the respondents, including the use of automated collection 
techniques or other forms of information technology.
    Please note that the comments submitted in response to this notice 
are a matter of public record. Before including your personal mailing 
address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable 
information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire 
comment, including your personally identifiable information, may be 
made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your 
comment to withhold your personally identifiable information from 
public view, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Richard Z. Poore,
Center Director, USGS Coastal and Marine Science Center.
[FR Doc. 2014-04392 Filed 2-27-14; 8:45 am]