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National Land Parcel Data: A Vision for the Future
including the technical and organizational procedures that would have to be followed and the technical specifications for the components of a multipurpose cadastre. The 1983 panel continued to view the multipurpose cadastre as a key component of how government should fulfill its mission. To fund the multipurpose cadastre, the study recommended federal grants to counties (or their equivalents) to cover about 40 percent of the cost for the multipurpose cadastre. It estimated that the cost of a matching federal program would be $90 million per year over a 20-year period for a total federal contribution of $1.8 billion.
The NRC has produced a number of other reports that are relevant to the present study in that they continue to document the need for national land parcel data and the roles of various players in developing it. For example, Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation (NRC, 1993) provides the basic details of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and lists the parcel (cadastre) as one of the primary components. It provides a strong rationale for federal involvement, including “aboriginal land tenure; the federal government’s significance as a land owner; its role in real estate and asset/facilities management; its role in acquiring property for specific projects; various taxation roles; its regulatory role with respect to real estate financing, interstate commerce, agricultural support programs, environmental assessment, hazardous waste management, etc.; and civil defense and emergency preparedness roles” (NRC, 1993, p. 66).
Promoting the National Spatial Data Infrastructure Through Partnerships (NRC, 1994) and National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs (NRC, 2001) focused on the need and value of cooperation among the various stakeholding partners. A Data Foundation for the NationalSpatial Data Infrastructure (NRC, 1995) highlighted the need for the federal government to coordinate integration of spatial data. It also suggested that there should be a single nationwide formatting system for cadastral data (NRC, 1995, p. 38).
Weaving a National Map (NRC, 2003a) examined the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) concept of The National Map. This program was designed to replace paper USGS 1:24,000 maps with online maps containing the same data. A partnership of local, state, tribal, and federal sources would provide the raw material for this online system. The study committee raised the idea of including parcels and other critical data with this scheme. It also recommended retention of both a standardized medium-scale map and the original large-scale material.
Licensing Geographic Data and Services (NRC, 2004a) recognized the value of licensing data, even when they are available at no cost. Licensing allows local government to retain control over the use of its data, but this often conflicts with the principle that data are a public good. The report used a series of vignettes to show various ways of sharing data while maintaining control and recommended maximum use of standardized licenses.
GIS for Housing and Urban Development (NRC, 2003b) proposed that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) create an urban spatial data infrastructure that includes parcel-level data. The report also noted (NRC, 2003b, p. 46):
The creation of a nationwide parcel-level dataset will require the participation of local government, finance agencies including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, realtors, and market researchers. States and metropolitan/regional-level governments (for example, the Twin Cities in Minnesota) have created programs to create or modernize parcel-level data. Because there is no nationwide source of parcel-level data, costly duplication and gaps can occur.
The 2000 Census: Counting Under Adversity (NRC, 2004b) looked at the Census Bureau’s work with local government in updating its Master Address File (MAF) of residences and concluded that the partnership was flawed. “The Bureau should also give serious consideration to providing localities with updated MAF files” (NRC, 2004b, p. 149). For some communities, this file, complete with addresses and x-y coordinates, would be the only electronic means they have to map their parcels.