The general characteristics of both the downloadable parcel data and the corresponding web service would adhere to the following characteristics:

  • Data Contents—Both the data and the web service would consist of graphics, attribute data, and related metadata designed and structured to offer seamless coverage of all 50 states as well as U.S. insular areas.

  • Geographic Reference—National parcel data would employ a single, well-defined geographic reference framework based on North American Datum of 1983, consistent with NSDI specifications and sufficiently documented to allow easy transformation into the respective coordinate systems that may be employed by different users.

  • Coordinated and Authoritative—Parcel data would be created from and maintained through a distributed network of individual “authorized” suppliers at the state, county, and local levels.

  • Limited Basic Functionality—Parcel information should be viewable by panning and zooming across a national map and be searchable by attributes—centering the view on a given city, street address, zip code, or even a local parcel identification (ID) number (PIN).

  • Navigation Through Place Names—Names of key public sites may also be used to center the view on a given geographical area.

An already existing visual illustration of the committee’s vision can be seen in Figure 6.2. This figure shows parcel data across the boundary of two states, accessible through The National Map. This is just one aspect of what the committee envisions for the whole nation.


Any successful funding model would address two different aspects: (1) the production of digital parcel data where they do not yet exist, and (2) the additional costs needed to ensure the data are consistent and have been reconciled across boundaries, and can be accessed and used as a seamless national data set. Getting support for the program will involve a marketing strategy and the proper identification of the products and service. If the service and product are properly defined, clients will become eager customers. There are many stakeholders, which makes it possible to create a sustained program for parcel data development.

The funding model would first address the concerns of local governments that are the primary producers of parcel data. There are literally hundreds of different models for local parcel data production, and as noted in Chapter 4, there is considerable evidence of sufficient return on investment to justify the creation of parcel data even in smaller communities. Local governments have discovered that the cost of a parcel system is often offset by the addition of many new properties to the tax rolls and by having an improved basis for property assessment and taxation. Many of them are also supporting their systems with fees attached to real estate transactions. These same local governments are also realizing that as parcel data become the authoritative source for street addresses, they can justify non-real estate-based sources of funding. Most importantly, first responders and law enforcement personnel would have access to accurate locations of a street address. As the source of street addresses, parcel data can not only save lives but also provide a justification for funding from E911 fees and even federal funds from DHS and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Much of the existing revenue that comes through collaboration agreements, licensing agreements, real estate transaction fees, or E911 fees would not be significantly affected by a national program. Local government licensing fees are often (but not always) based on the attributes associated with the data above and beyond the geometry, address, and PIN required for a national system. Therefore, the national data will provide an advertisement for the detailed data

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement