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National Land Parcel Data: A Vision for the Future
federal government has not assumed that responsibility. There is no comprehensive land parcel data set for federal lands, although NILS is in development. In the absence of a system to access land parcel data across the nation, various federal agencies are collecting land parcel data to meet specific mission needs. The number of counties yet to develop digital parcel databases combined with large tracts of public lands and Indian territories that also do not have digital parcel data means there is no accurate digital representation of the parcel boundaries of the majority of land area of the United States. However, at the same time, several private companies appear to be competing to develop the most comprehensive set of parcel data for the nation. This robust market is fueled by an extensive and growing demand for location-based services and real estate applications.
The survey of parcel data programs also revealed some important trends. Perhaps the most significant is the estimate that digital parcel data increased by 10 percent between 2003 and 2005. This provides strong evidence that parcel data programs are necessary, feasible, and affordable. In many cases, state governments have assumed the responsibility for initial parcel conversion but there is also evidence that communities with as few as 20,000 residents can justify such a parcel program without any state or federal assistance. It is fair to conclude that local and tribal governments will continue to initiate parcel data programs. State involvement will accelerate the process in many parts of the country. The federal government lacks an effective program or set of incentives that would enable it to access and use this valuable set of parcel data.