Parcels, Wine and a good cigar.

As I filter through the piles of notes from the conference and begin to formulate where I see the industry heading then you might wonder how I arrived at the title subject. The ties that bind started many years ago when two Surveyors began posting on a bulletin board. One from California and one from Oklahoma. These two very different men somehow had both arrived at similar conclusions even with the 1300 mile geographical difference.
Parcels were a very hot topic at the conference and the debate on them is ongoing. Michael Binge had a great article on July 1, 2010 (Link to Article)  that detailed some of the hurdles that are yet to be overcome. If you read carefully then you will find a lack of technical hurdles that most would expect.  The hurdles are either economic or political in nature.

The pesky technical aspects of coordinates, datums and accuracy do not seem to be a real issue. After all, if there is a problem then you can call a Surveyor to help sort things out. This key little factoid seemed to play over and over during the conference.  It's time to develop the national cadastre and ESRI spent a lot of time revamping version 10 to aid in this endeavor. You will see more in a later blog on the major change from the cadastral fabric to the new parcel fabric.

But just let me say that the parcel editor has been designed with Surveyors in mind. I'm quite sure that a lot of Surveyors were involved in the overall design of the new toolbars and with the work flow. 

Michael and I have both been involved in emergency management and have used our tools to aid responders, guide rescues and other tasks related to a ongoing emergency.  We have both seen first hand how a GIS can be used to estimate the amount of homes impacted or the number of people involved. 

But the important use of a solid parcel map comes after the event and during the important recovery event. It could be thousands of acres of charred land with no visible landmarks left or an entire community destroyed after a tornado. Before you can rebuild then you need to know where to start building. That is where the parcel fabric can save time and anytime you shorten the time then you also save money.

We took a tour through an area that had been totally destroyed by fire that was now a thriving community again with people happily living their lives and tending their yards. Michael explained that this was one of the older parts of San Diego and that the maps were not 20 or 30 years old but from the 1800's.  We discussed all of the difficulties in working maps that were done in a time when the land was not worth the mega dollars that it is now. Lots fail to close, entire blocks have little in the way of solid ties to other blocks. It's a fact of GIS sometimes. 

But armed with a glass of fine California wine and a good cigar we would sit after the days ESRI events on the patio and discuss parcels.  When you are passionate about a topic you cannot just turn it off because the days sessions are over. 

The 1300 mile difference and vastly different survey methods really did not matter to either of us. These are small problems to resolve and having a local Surveyor is one of the ways to resolve these issues.  You may need some ground surveying done and you might be able to restore things from aerial images.  And that is another whole topic worthy of discussion. Several sessions talked of real time aerial imaging in less that five years at accuracies never before imagined.

In Lawton when  we worked on our GIS system we had two base maps. Ours was the plats and survey information and the other was the tax assessor maps. Our tax assessor has GIS but when they do lot splits or changes then they move the lines and erase what is still to any Surveyor the official platted lot line. I never really liked having the two maps separate and was excited to see ways to merge these using the new parcel editor. 

And with the increased tools for using 4D (timeline) then there are some really good possibilities to not only have an accurate base map but to have one that you can play like a movie and watch as the area changes over the years. Think about things like zoning changes, lot splits, annexations or basically just any land use change.

A good friend, some excellent wine and few cigars can stimulate the old grey matter. Did we solve all the problems? Well no, but we sure are excited about the direction that GIS is heading for the future.

Posted by Deral at Home on Jul 29, 2010 7:59 AM EDT