Definition(s) of Parcel Data
The definition of parcel data depends on its intended use. Interviewees in the study usually defined "parcel data" by describing how they use it to support their work. For example, planning departments said that parcel data is the parcel identification number but also the zoning codes, actual uses and boundaries, and physical characteristics. Planning departments need this information to run planning scenarios and make development decisions. By contrast, real property tax administration officials referred to parcel data as parcel identification and location, information about any structures on the parcel, the parcel owner, and the assessed value. More specifically within the area of taxation, some described parcel data as being the legal definition of the parcel (i.e., a deed), while others referred to the tax map characteristics.
After gathering parcel data definitions from each of the interviewees, we researched parcel data definitions and classifications in other states. Ohio, Wisconsin, and Nebraska have made concerted efforts to define parcel data but their definitions lack many of the nuances reported in our interviews. The Ohio Cadastral Task Force, for example, recommended a core group of attributes associated with parcel data that included a parcel identifier, a county code, a tax code, valuation data, and a lot description. In Wisconsin, a state law established a definition of ‘land information’ under the Land Records Modernization Plan which outlined a broad framework for thinking about parcel data as "...any physical, legal, or economic, or environmental information or characteristics concerning land, water, groundwater, subsurface resources, or air in this state." Finally, in 2000, Nebraska issued the "Guidebook for a Local Government Multipurpose Land Information System" which outlined the general types of parcel characteristics as spatial reference attributes, cadastral reference attributes and parcel attributes. None of these definitions captures the variety or richness of detail that emerged in our interviews.
Taken as a whole, the interviewees in our study generated a long list of descriptive of parcel characteristics as shown in Table 1. Using layman’s terms, the attributes are grouped into eight categories of common characteristics. For example, the category "parcel location" contains ‘parcel address’, which can be thought of as descriptive data (i.e., 123 Main Street) or spatial data (i.e., a set of coordinates), or both.
Although this listing does not include all possible attributes, it represents the common characteristics interviewees use to describe parcel data. The categories include:
occupancy and use
structures and improvements
Table 1. Parcel Data Categories and Attributes Identified in the Study
Occupancy and Use
Structures and Improvements
| Next >