The Potential of Parcel-Based GIS in Community Development and Urban Land Management

Report by Arnold Chandler, G. Thomas Kingsley, Josh Kirschenbaum, Kathryn L.S. Pettit

The past decade has seen notable improvements in the availability of data about land in America’s communities. Local agencies have been automating their administrative records for some time, but it is only recently that improvements in technology—particularly in Geographic Information System (GIS) and web technology—have markedly enhanced the ability to manipulate and disseminate the data. Evidence about the state of this art, however, has been fragmentary. This paper reports on research by PolicyLink and the Urban Institute to examine the trends more systematically and to consider implications of the way the field is developing. Specifically, it describes the results of: (1) a web search to find out how frequently and in what ways the nation’s largest cities are making parcel-level data available publicly on their web sites; (2) interviews with the managers of several of those systems to learn more about their structure, content, and local applications; and (3) a Consultative Session to consider the implications of the findings and develop recommendations as to how to respond to them.