From Legacy System to Long-Term Success at Douglas County

When Vyla Grindberg joined Douglas County, Oregon, as its GIS coordinator in 2020, the county had taken tentative steps to transition to Esri’s ArcGIS Enterprise. Grindberg targeted the critical process of managing tax parcel data, which was in demand by numerous departments for important functions across the organization.

“Tax parcel data is an incredibly valuable asset that is used for emergency management, planning, public works as well as by local municipalities and individual citizens. With so many needs and requests to fulfill, it was clear that we needed a system that would allow us to manage, update, and share it efficiently with those who needed it,” said Grindberg.

Data was being manually updated to work with other systems in place at the county, such as iWorQ Systems [cloud-based software for public works and community development]. A great need existed for parcel data that would meet the county’s needs for emergency response. Grindberg saw that these needs could be met more efficiently using Esri’s ArcGIS Parcel Fabric to manage data.

With approval of a grant application from the Municipal Wildfire Assistance Program (MWAP), Douglas County was able to move forward with research and planning for deployment of the new software.

Preparation and Transition

Grindberg identified a small, six-week window of time—when tax rolls were being finalized—for moving the county’s data to the Parcel Fabric environment. Douglas County engaged Pro-West & Associates, an Esri partner with expertise in data migration that could aid in the parcel fabric implementation process. Along with Pro-West, Grindberg performed testing to prepare for transitioning data from the county’s legacy system. This ensured that the county would be able to access Parcel Fabric in ArcGIS Pro and use an Esri map series to generate 3,108 plat maps.

The entire project—including the migration to Parcel Fabric in ArcGIS Pro and the deployment of Python scripts to publish data on a daily basis—was completed within a four-month period.

Training for Success

Critical to the success of the project and ongoing maintenance of parcel data was training. Grindberg, who also teaches college GIS courses, trained the county’s cartography department, whose team was new to ArcGIS Pro. In addition, she set up ArcGIS Pro projects so that cartographers could work on an ongoing basis.

Then, Pro-West joined the county on-site for a week to provide customized training to Grindberg and the cartography department. The training focused on editing in Parcel Fabric using the county’s unique data, handling specific scenarios as well as a range of topics that would equip county staff to maintain up-to-date, accurate parcel data.

Delivering Value for All

By implementing ArcGIS Parcel Fabric, Douglas County can now deliver accurate data that is automatically updated each day to meet the needs of departments including planning, assessors, and emergency services. Grindberg no longer must manually work with data to prepare it for various uses. Thanks to automated processes in Parcel Fabric and integrations that connect it to other business systems within the county and partner agencies, data is no longer out-of-date by a week or a month. It’s accurate every day.

Grindberg can now use the time she used to spend processing data on other tasks that help advance the county’s policy goals. Also, departments and agencies can receive updated data even if she is unavailable.

“Previously, if I was out of the office or working on an urgent task, I couldn’t truncate and append the data that was needed,” said Grindberg “At times, a three- to four-week wait existed for data requests to be fulfilled. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. Others are not relying on me to personally work on and deliver the data they need—they automatically receive it. That represents great value for the county and our end users.”

Providing More Value

As GIS coordinator, Grindberg’s mission is to use GIS to provide high-quality services to the public. She sees many opportunities across the county to integrate GIS to enhance services.

“Implementing Parcel Fabric has been an important step forward for Douglas County, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle,” said Grindberg. “There are so many opportunities to provide value to residents through GIS. We’re looking at [using] ArcGIS Hub [to develop a hub] site for emergency management, leveraging Esri software to replace other aging applications, and integrating processes for zoning inquiries into GIS, for example. I’m looking forward to bringing even more of the benefits of GIS to Douglas County’s citizens.”