GIS is the key that unlocks the doors to making incredible amounts of data available to anyone in the world. For Oklahoma County, it means the ability of more than 25 million visitors to our website every year [to see] information about more than 325,000 parcels online anytime, instead of having to travel to the courthouse to get the information they want.
Oklahoma County's Assessor's Office Modernizes Workflows with GIS
Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, is blazing a trail for other counties to follow. The Oklahoma County Assessor's Office, which holds the greatest amount of county-level responsibility in the state, has successfully streamlined its workflows with mapping technology. The Assessor's Office manages and maintains more than 325,000 parcels, worth more than $90 billion and representing more than 22 percent of the entire state of Oklahoma's ad valorem base.
Using geographic information system (GIS) technology, the Assessor's Office created a comprehensive system of records, mapping more than 325,000 parcels in the county and providing the public with each property's historical data and valuations. By making this valuable information available for residents and other taxpayers to easily access, the Assessor's Office is helping property owners understand their property information. The updated GIS is being used by all other departments for work ranging from road construction and maintenance and storm response to property resale and law enforcement in the county. All county departments can make well-informed, accurate decisions based on the data the map and GIS provide.
Advancing Technology Sooner Rather Than Later
To successfully transform and digitize the Assessor's Office workflows, staff needed a technology that could effortlessly mesh with their existing records system. For the Assessor's Office to streamline its workflows, integrating multiple systems was necessary.
An additional challenge was finding an efficient way for appraisers to access data in the field to support them in their valuations. A map showing field appraisers historical changes of properties was a critical aspect to utilizing a single platform in their workflows.
It was also clear that the Assessor's Office needed an easy, accessible site where residents, property owners, realtors, and investors could view all historical, value, tax, and other detailed property information. Delivering transparency and strengthening public trust was important to the Assessor's Office because staff wanted people to see that the data collected and posted is accurate and represents a fair valuation of their property.
"Transparency is key in public agencies, particularly the Assessor's Office. By delivering fair, uniform, and equitable valuations, the public can see and use the data available," said Larry Stein, Oklahoma County assessor. This means not just delivering data in PDFs, tables, and spreadsheets, but also providing data in usable formats and applications that answer residents' questions.
County One-Stop Shop for Land Information
With ArcGIS technology and Esri partner Patriot Properties, which delivers GIS-integrated computer-assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) solutions, the Assessor's Office created the Oklahoma County Assessor Online Mapping site. Now the public can search property information that links each parcel to the property record card detailing the property's value history, tax information, and characteristics as well as comparable sales. Deeds and historic ownership, permit history, and tax account information are also accessible from the same map interface.
The Assessor's Office implemented ArcGIS Parcel Fabric, an integral part of mapping and maintaining highly accurate tax parcel boundaries. To enhance the public's digital experience, the Assessor's Office also added other important layers to its mapping solution—school district boundaries, city boundaries, hydrology elements, aerial imagery, and other key basemap information. Since migrating ArcGIS Parcel Fabric into its workflows, the Assessor's Office has seen a significant reduction in the time it takes to update property data and information.
"Before we switched to Parcel Fabric, it would take a week just to convert the entire county and upload the updates. Now, it only takes an hour, saving us substantial time," said Tim Conner, Parcel Fabric manager and mapping site admin for the Oklahoma County Assessor's Office.
Change detection was another beneficial GIS component that the Assessor's Office was able to empower field appraisers with, making their jobs easier. Appraisers now have a desktop tool to assess property changes, helping prioritize which properties require a site visit and saving substantial field time. This tool also enables property owners to use a slider to view the current and past aerial imagery and see physical changes to their property over time. "GIS gives us the ability to deliver county data from many departments in a single system. Residents like the map interface and a single app to answer the most common questions. This saves everyone time," said Conner.
GIS Expedites Workflows
The Oklahoma County Assessor's Office is benefiting from GIS technology. Staff can update data in multiple systems from a single point, print maps to scale, and update property information instantly in real time.
Since incorporating ArcGIS Parcel Fabric into its workflows, the Assessor's Office has seen a substantial reduction in the time it takes to update property data. Many staff members within the Assessor's Office are seeing the results of the effort, which took a couple of years to complete. The time staff are saving from the GIS integration is allowing them to focus on more day-to-day assignments and larger strategic projects.
Leading Other Counties to Succeed
With all the success and progress GIS is providing, Oklahoma County is enabling the Assessor's Office to prioritize digital mapping with additional resources and funding so that staff can continue modernizing workflows and public engagement. In return, the Assessor's Office is reaping the benefits of the latest software, delivering the most value to the public. As technology is rapidly changing, Oklahoma County and the Assessor's Office are seeing the widespread benefits of leveraging GIS. Several other departments within the county are feeling empowered by integrating GIS in their workflows too.
"I know whatever comes along in the future, now that we are immersed into Esri technology, we know [Esri is] going to be there for us. If the formats or systems change, we won't have to go to an outsourced vendor with our data because we have Esri's GIS technology to secure our data and provide us with the latest updates," said Mike Morrison, chief deputy for the Oklahoma County Assessor's Office.