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As regulator of land use in New York’s six million acre Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) maintains tens of thousands of records about real property, natural resources, and physical and civil infrastructure. Staff depend on these records every day to give advice or make decisions about proposals to buy land, construct buildings, or carry out other development projects. Organizing, finding, and using all of this information effectively has become a critical problem for both the agency and its customers. Gathering the information needed to give an answer or make a decision often consumes more time than the analysis of the request.

During 1994-95, the Center for Technology in Government worked with APA and several corporate and university partners to develop and evaluate a prototype system to combine document records and geographic data into a unified "electronic reference desk." This system allowed agency staff to point at a land parcel displayed on an electronic map and summon legal documents, other maps, project plans, and related information about the property. The prototype evaluation illustrated the financial and staff resources that would be needed to develop and implement a complete system. The project also identified significant potential for internal quality improvements and new customer services.