It’s important for an appraisal district to have accurate property records. GIS helped us accomplish this. We can update our data more frequently and get accurate information to more people sooner
Harris Central Appraisal District Integrates Parcel Fabric into Yearly Workflows
Harris Central Appraisal District (HCAD) of Harris County, Texas, is regularly responsible for over 1.8 million property valuations. In one of the largest US counties and the largest county in all of Texas, HCAD serves over 500 taxing jurisdictions and assesses properties of over 4.7 million residents and other types of properties with a total market value of approximately $895 billion. With so many properties needing to be managed and assessed, HCAD needed a process that was accurate, secure, and easy to incorporate into existing workflows.
HCAD used geographic information system (GIS) technology to evolve to the next level of efficient parcel management. The agency’s work now serves as a foundation for assessment and collaboration with and among taxing jurisdictions across Harris County.
Valuing What Matters Most
HCAD had been working to modernize its workflows for almost nine years, but it needed to keep up with technology changes and develop a system that was easy to use and update and would save time.
HCAD also valued community engagement, so it was important that the technology would allow the agency to be transparent with the residents. The agency wanted technology that would provide accurate representations of its properties and valuations and allow easy access to the platform that would display all this information.
Migrating to Better Things
Starting the movement away from outdated technologies, HCAD turned to Esri partner Sidwell to support the agency with migrating its data to parcel fabric. The initial ArcMap parcel fabric conversion was a multiphase migration spanning 18 months. A significant amount of time was dedicated to converting the data to ArcGIS Parcel Fabric and adding it back to the production database to support the ongoing appraisal process.
HCAD migrated to ArcGIS Parcel Fabric with assistance from the land records team at Esri. The conversion took over 30 hours to complete . Through Esri training, HCAD staff learned to work in ArcGIS Pro and how to update data. They also participated in Esri’s holistic testing for data migration to ArcGIS Parcel Fabric.
“Esri gave us all the tools we needed to be successful upfront. With that, our staff was set up to succeed when the conversion happened,” said Joshua Dye, GIS analyst for HCAD. “Regardless of the number of iterations we had to go through, we wouldn’t change a thing on how we went about things. The reward and benefits far outweigh the length of time or challenges.”
ArcGIS products have helped HCAD meet its organizational goals by helping it gain authoritative data, improve data accuracy, and increase public transparency.
Results, Impact, Future Plans
Successfully integrating Parcel Fabric technology into its workflows, HCAD has managed approximately 150K parcel changes of various types annually. Due to fluctuations in property value, HCAD has seen appeals increase by 9 percent, from 452K in 2021 to 494K the next year, and continues to go up annually. In some ways, the increase in appeals is correlated to the HCAD website getting 20–30K hits per month and at least a couple of thousand hits during slow seasons, since its new parcel maps launched.
Once the parcel fabric integration was completed and secured in its GIS, HCAD staff was very pleased with the new addition to managing parcels. The public response has also provided generally positive feedback on HCAD’s basemap migrations. Other jurisdictions are now interested in HCAD’s efforts based on what they have done with the parcel fabric and the refreshed look of its vector map.
The tools and features in ArcGIS Pro have made it easier to address data issues. HCAD can fix data errors more efficiently now, from taking days to completing them in an afternoon. ArcGIS Pro is substantially easier to learn than previous iterations of technologies used in the past. “The best outcome from using GIS is the amount of time saved,” Dye said.
To further streamline its public engagement, HCAD is addressing any issues the public has with accessing the data and continuing to improve the process for property owners. HCAD’s current plan is to be a complete ArcGIS Pro shop replacing desktop legacy systems. “ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Parcel Fabric provide new tools to take on new requests as they originate from appraisal staff, jurisdictions, and the public. Staying on top of updates is important to avoid errors and maximize our investment in Parcel Fabric,” Dye said.
HCAD also plans to share its vector maps with other jurisdictions, given the positive feedback received from those jurisdictions. This allows other jurisdictions to download HCAD’s datasets for their work. HCAD is on its way to increased collaboration with other jurisdictions and setting an example in the appraisal industry.
“It’s important for an appraisal district to have accurate property records. GIS helped us accomplish this. We can update our data more frequently and get accurate information to more people sooner,” said Dye.