To begin, we would like to thank all of you (and all of your colleagues) for being so helpful and patient since we started on this endeavor last year. We recognize that many of you spent hours, and even days, responding to our initial data requests and actively participating in this project. Thank you. We are now at a point in the project where we need your help again. We have prepared a 15 minute video to briefly explain what we have done and how you can continue to support this effort. Please take a moment to watch the video or read the transcript.
When we initially contacted you about participating in the Washington Statewide Parcel Database effort, we committed to contacting you when we were done "normalizing" the data. We are now done with the first phase of the project and would like your help to ensure that this project is a success. Specifically we would like to:
- make sure we understand your data correctly
- make sure we appropriately integrated your data into the normalized statewide parcel database
- share the data
- update contact information
We are researchers and staff technicians at the University of Washington. We work for a small research and outreach group called the Rural Technology Initiative, housed at the School of Forest Resources. Our current research projects focus on identifying family forest lands in Washington State and how to best provide incentives to maintain these, and other, forest lands in the state.
Parcel Database to Forest Land Database to Family Forest Database
To identify family forest lands in Washington, we first have to identify all forest lands in the state, including industrial and other large landowners. The family forest information is extracted from this larger dataset. Thus, although we focus on family forest land, we are building a forest land database for all of Washington State. Before we can build this forest land database, we must first build a parcel database, since the spatial and tabular data that you produce and maintain is the basis of our processes to identify forest lands. As you can imagine, it takes quite a bit of effort, time and financial resources to collect parcel data from all 39 counties and the various other state and federal agencies who manage parcel-related data.
Parcels Working Group
When we started this project we realized that in order to ensure that we have a reliable dataset to use for our research--now and in the future--we needed to have an updatable statewide parcel database built first. Therefore, we directed our efforts toward the Washington State Parcel Database project as a means to eventually arrive at the Forest Land Database. In order to do this, we knew we needed help -- and thought that we might be able to share in some of the efforts that others were expending as well. We gathered together a group of public agencies which regularly use and request parcel data from the many data producers in Washington State and now have an active and growing Parcels Working Group. We meet monthly to discuss and brainstorm how we can work together to collect and share parcel data and educate government about the importance of quality cadastral information.
Members of the Parcels Working Group realize the investment that parcel data producers have in the development and maintenance of parcel data and are working hard to find mutually beneficial ways of meeting government business needs and supporting parcel data creation and distribution. To clarify the intentions of the Parcels Working Group the members crafted a Statement of Intent. The Statement, while not a legal document, explains how members of the Working Group intend to work with each other and with parcel data producers. Please take a moment to read it below as we feel it addresses many of the concerns we have heard about the Statewide Parcel Database.
Review of Who and Why
Here’s a quick review of who we are, who the other people involved in this project are, and what we are all doing:
|University of Washington||Compiling a statewide spatially-based parcel database from county, state, and federal parcel data and working with the Family Forest Foundation to develop the Forest Land Database and Family Forest Dataset.|
|Parcels Working Group||Facilitating a needs assessment, identifying resources, educating government, and working to share the Statewide Parcel Database.|
|Family Forest Foundation||A non-profit group that is helping to build the Forest Land Database and, as an extract of that, the Family Forest Dataset.|
Three groups: the University of Washington, the Parcels Working Group, and the Family Forest Foundation.
Three datasets: the Statewide Parcel Database, the Forest Land Database, and a subset of the Forest Land Database – the Family Forest Dataset.
Select your organization to view detailed normalization information:
We would appreciate it if you could fill out a questionnaire about our understanding of your data, the process we used to normalize the data, and how we might share the normalized, statewide parcel data with members of the Parcels Working Group and other non-commercial groups. We would prefer to have you fill out the questionnaire online, but if that’s not possible, we also have a version that you can print and mail back to us. Since some of the questions are fairly technical, it may be helpful to download a copy of the questionnaire first and circulate it to appropriate people (e.g., GIS managers, data stewards) in your organization.
Ready to fill out the questionnaire? Click here for on-line access: https://catalysttools.washington.edu/webq/survey/lwrogers/57331. Or, for a printed version, click here.
RE: Establishment of a Statewide Parcel Database for Participating Agencies
Date: April 2008
This project is designed to construct a single, regularly updated, statewide parcel dataset based on data provided by city, county, state, and federal agencies that develop and maintain parcel data within Washington State. The purpose is to reduce the cost, inefficiencies, and redundant efforts of state and federal agencies, as each independently and periodically contacts parcel data originators for current data sets. This project also seeks to support, where needed, local efforts involved in developing and maintaining parcel data. Key to success is identifying and addressing data distribution concerns.
In October 2006 a group of federal, state, tribal and local government participants came together to explore whether there was interest in and a willingness to pursue the development and coordination of a statewide parcel framework data set that would be accessible to various participating agencies. It was determined that tackling this project would involve the identification of a set of core attributes of interest, addressing the concerns of county parcel data producers, the coordination of licensing agreements, and building a working relationship with the county parcel custodians and key agency framework coordinators. Currently, the working group is co-chaired by representatives from the Department of Health and the University of Washington and includes representatives from numerous federal, state, local, and other public agencies in Washington State.
We agree, to the extent that parcel data producers are interested, to work together to develop the appropriate methods to transform local data into a common statewide format. We intend to, after receiving the parcel geometry and/or assessor-related tabular data, develop a transformation methodology that will result in a normalized data set for Washington State. The normalized data set will be a common format of file type, attribute structure, and spatial reference.
While ensuring that all original metadata provided from the data producers will be maintained, the normalizing procedures will be integrated into the revised metadata to allow complete documentation of the statewide data set. In almost all cases, the normalized data will be a simplified version and/or a subset of the original data. However, as needed by participating agencies, the original non-normalized historical data will be available for reference or closer inspection of additional attributes. Counties and other parcel data producers will be provided the opportunity to review and comment on the normalized format and transformation methodology.
Parcel data provided by originators and shared through the Parcels Working Group is a critical source of information for participating state and federal agencies. The Parcels Working Group provides a single point of contact and timely access to statewide GIS parcel data for participants. This will increase the efficiency of obtaining parcel data, reduce the redundancy of effort, and decrease cost.
Currently parcel data generators such as cities and counties are frequently contacted by state and federal agencies requesting parcel data sets. Under the existing scenario, each state and federal agency must independently obtain, normalize and store parcel data from cities and counties across Washington. This has often resulted in state and federal agencies using outdated parcel data because of the difficulty in constructing updated datasets.
There are several benefits to producers of parcel data participating in the Parcels Working Group. Producers will receive fewer requests from state and federal agencies for data. There should be fewer “follow-up” questions because the Parcels Working Group will have already normalized the various datasets into a statewide coverage, with associated metadata. Because state and federal users will have access to more current data, the results of their analyses will be more timely and accurate.
The Parcels Working Group recognizes the economic investment in and sensitivity of private data. Our process provides for entities participating in the Parcels Working Group to have access to the statewide parcel dataset. Public inquiries for specific city or county level GIS parcel data will be redirected to the data producer. Producers will have open access to a list of users who have signed this letter of intent committing to using the data appropriately.
The cooperation of parcel data producers with participating government agencies that need statewide parcel data will be a significant factor in making the goal of safe and efficient data sharing of the Washington State Parcel Database a reality.
Signed by the co-chairs of the Parcels Working Group