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NYS ITS GIS Program Office

Geographic Information Systems Clearinghouse

Comprehensive Statewide Land Use/Land Cover Needs Survey

Although the New York State Digital Orthophotography Program is an excellent resource for local use throughout the state, aerial photography serves a different purpose than a land use/land cover statewide “map”. Various programs have created data for specific timeframes and geographic regions of the state; such as Cayuga County , Westchester County and the South shore of Long Island . In addition, several national programs have created comprehensive statewide datasets (Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics, National Land Cover Dataset, Gap Analysis); however, these datasets are more suited to regional analyses, and may be of limited use for local analyses, especially at the county and municipal level.

The NYS GIS Coordinating Body’s Land Use/Land Cover Work Group designed a survey to roughly assess the need for a comprehensive statewide dataset of land use/land cover for New York State . For complete survey results go to

Summary of Statewide Land Use/Land Cover Survey

Generalities regarding 102 Respondents

Of those 102 - 95 told us what sector they represented; of those 95:

93 people told us what type of work they do, of those 93 (respondents could choose more than one category):

99 respondents told us what part of the state they represented, of those 99 (respondents could choose more than one):

Use: 92 respondents told us what their primary need for LU/LC data is, in order of importance with average score (each application was ranked from 1 - 10):  

Overall Rank Average Score % respondents ranked 7 or higher
1. Modeling 7.14 52%
2. Change Detection 7.04 54%
3. Visualization 6.43 47%
4. Pollution Potential 6.08 33%
5. Habitat Assessment 6.06 39%
6. Impervious Surfaces 5.88 34%
7. Policy Support 5.71 37%
8. Conservation Biology 5.32 30%
9. Disease Monitoring 3.96 21%
10. Other 3.80 9%

General Preferences:

Temporal Considerations - of 89 respondents (87% of total survey responses) 38% feel temporaml considerations are Very Important on a scale of 1(not important) – 5(Very Important); 71% ranked it Important (4) or higher and 93% ranked it Somewhat Important(3) or higher.

Spatial Resolution - of 90 respondents (88% of total survey responses), 57% feel spatial resolution is Very Important (5); 89% ranked it Important (4) or higher and 99% ranked it Somewhat Important (3) or higher.

Classification Scheme - of 87 respondents (85% of total survey responses), 40% feel using an established classification scheme is Very Important (5); 64% ranked it Important (4) or higher and 95% ranked it Somewhat Important (3) or higher.

Specific Preferences:

Seasonality – of 22 respondents (21.6% of total survey responses), 52% prefer Leaf-off while only 14% prefer Leaf-on. By season, 38% prefer Spring acquisition, 14% are interested in Summer acquisition and 10% are interested in Fall. If preference for Spring & Fall are added to Leaf-off we get 76% of respondents preferring leaf-off. (see attached chart)

Periodicity – of 22 respondents (21.6% of total survey responses):

Yearly 19%
Two year 14%
Three year 29%
Five year 33%
Ten year 5%

If respondents preferring 3 year acquisition cycle are added to those who preferred 5 year cycle, then 62% prefer a 3 – 5 year acquisition cycle. (see attached chart)

Spatial Resolution – of 88 respondents (86% of total survey responses),

1 meter 38%
2 meter 11%
5 meter 16%
10 meter 13%
20 meter 8%

All other options (15m; 30m; 60m; & 100m) received less than 5% response rate each.

Processing/Delivery Time – of 87 respondents (85% of total survey responses),

ASAP 38%
3 months 10%
6 months 22%
Year 23%
18 months 3%
2 years or older 3%

If respondents preferring 6 month delivery are added to those who preferred 1year, then 45% prefer 6mo - 1 year product delivery.

Classification Scheme – of 78 respondents (76% of total survey responses),

Anderson (Modified or not) 26%
GAP 5%
NLCD2001 4%
NYS Derived (i.e. customized to NYS) 51%
Other 10%

Note: More people skipped this question (24 or 24% of total survey responses) than preferred the Anderson scheme (20).


There is a need for a statewide land use/land cover dataset acquired periodically, with consistent acquisition processing and delivery specifications.

Based on survey responses, a statewide product would be acquired on a 3 – 5 year cycle (4 year cycle would seem a logical compromise) during leaf-off (preferably spring) at 10 meter or better spatial resolution (1 meter shows a strong but perhaps wishful preference). Product would be processed using a NYS derived hierarchical classification scheme, likely developed by the LU/LC Working Group, and delivered within 6 months to a year from acquisition to the NYS GIS Clearinghouse for public access.