RLIS came into being principally through the efforts of the following people:
- Dick Bolen was a geographer, had been a planner, and was very knowledgeable in GIS. He had a good budget and great support from the Metro Council to make GIS into a useful planning tool. He set up RLIS with all the information a planner would want.
- Alan Holsted did maps by hand from 1972 to 1988, using Mylar, pen and ink, and Zipitone. According to Bolen, Holsted "is the unsung hero of all this, the guy that really was doing the work." Bolen and Holsted demonstrated RLIS to the legislature to obtain an exemption from the public records law so that Metro could sell RLIS products.
- Andy Cotugno, who was Metro's transportation planning director, made the strategic decision to fund the development of RLIS.
- John Fregonese, who was Metro's planning director, was one of the first RLIS users.
- Bob Haas, who worked for Washington County, helped Bolen get RLIS started, and his county was the first jurisdiction to get on board. He came up with a "responsibility matrix" that spelled out the role of each jurisdiction.
- David Asherman produced great maps using ArcInfo, which elevated RLIS in front of the Metro Council and showed how GIS could be used. "His nickname was Picasso," says Bolen.
- Ethan Seltzer was hired at Metro in 1988 as the land-use coordinator.
- Dale Himes, at David Evans and Associates, Inc., converted the PGE data from CAD to GIS.
- Marshall Payne was a principal at GeoNorth, LLC, an Esri Business Partner, which wrote code for RLIS.
- Ray Phelps, then assistant to Metro's executive officer, Rena Cusma, secured funding for RLIS, mostly out of the budget for the agency's solid waste department.