Appraising Property Using a GIS-Centric Workflow: Shawnee County, Kansas
Like many counties in Kansas, Shawnee County property appraisers had used a paper-based workflow to collect information in the field for decades. They sought to replace this workflow for annual visual inspections of properties by implementing a geographic information system (GIS) solution. This transformation would provide appraisers with more detailed information for each property, save time in the field and office, minimize data entry errors, save costs, and enable supervisors to easily track progress on a project that involves over 12,000 annual property inspections. Using Esri's technology and innovative GIS processes, Shawnee County can now evaluate hundreds of properties per day with greater accuracy and efficiency. In addition, citizens of the county access updated parcel information using the county's web app.
With about 76,000 tax parcels within its jurisdiction and shrinking staff, workers in the Appraiser's Office were overwhelmed. Visual inspections of over 12,000 properties must be conducted each year by state statute. Their workflow consisted of hundreds of pages of printed material for each area assigned. The paper work included major appraised features of each property but no pictures. This paper work would have to be organized logistically to drive the areas and take pictures of each property. Photos were taken with a digital camera, and the photo number was written down to be later matched up by office staff. Maps were printed of each area assigned. All paper was then scanned, and data was entered into the appraisal software.
Shawnee County Appraiser's Office
The county used a paper-based workflow for its annual visual inspections of properties.
Shawnee County was able to use ArcGIS Collector, ArcGIS Web AppBuilder, and ArcGIS Dashboards to speed up the annual inspections process for appraisers, sync authoritative data with its public-facing app, and create an all-in-one view for supervisors to monitor work status.
The Appraiser's Office can now easily inspect hundreds of parcels a day and is adding about 2,000 more parcels onto its workload—all while increasing transparency within the organization and for its citizens.
The Appraiser's Office looked to Esri's geospatial platform, easy-to-use apps, and innovative county GIS staff to replace its paper method. The county appraiser equipped field staff with Windows tablets, but they needed to be used in a disconnected environment. Using ArcGIS Collector (a mobile data collection app), ArcGIS Online, and ArcGIS Pro, GIS staff were able to piece together a digital GIS-centric workflow.
Before, it was easy for an appraiser to drive past a hidden property and miss that inspection. To ensure every property was inspected and done so the first time around, each parcel was converted to a point feature in red on the map. Using Collector, when the appraiser visited each point, pop-up information provided an overview of the property. This pop-up also included a link to a detailed PDF document that contained all necessary appraisal information from years past, and a previous photo. This PDF was redlined with changes and saved. When a new photo was taken, and the point marked as completed, the feature turned green. In addition to the point feature, a custom tiled basemap was also created in ArcGIS Pro, using imagery and property information such as IDs and addresses.
This aided the appraiser in knowing where they were at all times and at which properties the data had already been collected. Using editor tracking, the exact date of inspection is always collected and easily imported into the appraisal software.
When the appraiser comes in from the field, the attached photos are downloaded and processed to match a specific location, then renamed according to the corresponding parcel ID using the Python (ArcPy) coding language. This ensures that every photo is on the correct property, and clerical staff no longer have to manually match photos to properties.
After automated scripting updates the map layer in ArcGIS Enterprise, GIS manager Lee Allen can provide a comprehensive view to supervisors using ArcGIS Dashboards, a configurable all-in-one control panel. The dashboard provides a higher-level look at the entire data collection area, which consists of key performance indicators such as work status updates.
Not only did improving the workflow enhance the speed at which work was getting done but now the county can also push that information to citizens. All property data is available to residents through a mobile-friendly web map, where they can access property assessment and tax information. The GIS department used ArcGIS Web AppBuilder, a platform that allows users to create easy-to-use web apps for their workflows and community. The web app is synced with enterprise GIS data including property data. The Appraiser's Office can publicly share authoritative data that citizens and businesses need.
Now that the Appraiser's Office has digitally transformed its workflow, accurate data can be more easily captured and returned to the office. This has greatly reduced the amount of time spent updating each parcel. The process minimizes the amount of error that could take place, since workers are no longer handing over written notes, and the exact information that an appraiser inputs into Collector is the same data citizens see in the county's Property Search web app. This improves the dialog that local government ultimately has with its citizens and drives information to them at a much faster rate. The county also saves thousands of pieces of paper and ink, better utilizing taxpayer dollars.
Just over a year ago, the team was overwhelmed with an outdated workflow. Now with its new and improved digital method, it is planning to track and collect parcel information for roughly 2,000 mobile homes.
Because of the efficient workflow that we built using ArcGIS, we are now taking the county's tabular method of monitoring these mobile homes and using our new method to track these properties visually.
Not only has the local government been able to upgrade its field operations for appraisals, but it is also taking on more work and seeing that the workflow it built using Esri's technology can be used across the enterprise in other aspects of work.
Shawnee County uses Esri interactive mapping to help citizens learn about precincts for voting, commissioners, and crime mapping and to see where the flood zones are in the county. To see its gallery of maps, visit www.snco.us/ap/mapping.asp.
For more information on how you can improve field operations at the Appraiser's Office, visit