Sutter County Turns to ArcGIS Parcel Fabric for Long-Term Success
Leaders in Sutter County, California, wanted to update parcel data daily and maintain a historic record of the properties. To do so more quickly and efficiently, they chose to migrate their data to ArcGIS Parcel Fabric.
For several years, Sutter County had relied on a parcel management system developed in-house that allowed the county to maintain valuable features, such as visualizing the source of the data and how the data was entered. The system, however, lacked other features, such as historical parcel tracking and the ability to efficiently share up-to-date data with the public. It also fell short of the county's goals to incorporate modern, industry-standard technology that comes with robust support.
As a result, the county began the process of migrating its parcel data management to ArcGIS Parcel Fabric in ArcGIS Pro.
It would need help, though, since the county's geographic information system (GIS) analyst divided his working hours equally between the IT and assessor's departments.
"Almost all of my time is spent on regular tasks, and it was going to take me months to accomplish the migration alone," said Sutter County GIS analyst Jarvis Jones. "We needed a partner to get us through the initial migration and train us to keep updating the data on our own."
The county sought support from Pro-West & Associates to take on the one-time task and offer training so the county would be responsible for ongoing maintenance.
Diving into the Data
The migration process began with in-depth analysis of the county's parcel data, which was formed from a hybrid of sources, including Public Land Survey System (PLSS), parcel, and platted features, and additional attributes such as available zoning data.
Then, Pro-West & Associates discussed the county's goals, which included the following:
- Retaining features that were valuable to the county—such as the data source (e.g., deed); the process by which the data was entered; and fields for point of beginning, quadrant bearing, and more—so that the county could easily answer questions about property lines based on how a parcel was constructed
- Publishing up-to-date data daily instead of on a monthly schedule as it was previously maintained
- Reducing time spent on parcel data updates
- Efficiently sharing parcel data with the public
- Tracking past parcel information to maintain a historic record
- Offering robust support
Analysis of Sutter County's data highlighted a number of challenges, though, including noticing inaccuracies in drawn features; understanding if overlapping and gapping features posed an issue; identifying how numerous features and resources were utilized by the county for its unique needs; and needing to repair geometry issues, which the county did before migration.
Building the Right Schema
The information discovered during the assessment phase was used to diagram both the existing county data schema and the schema of the future geodatabase. Recommendations and enhancements were added to the schema to provide improvements or efficiencies.
Once the future schema was finalized, the team built a file geodatabase that incorporated the enhancements. Then the team specified which migration features to include, such as survey monuments, PLSS sections, subdivisions (as well as the record of surveys, indicated with the addition of a domain), and assessor parcels including historic parcels. Other features that were not specifically included in the parcel fabric were migrated to the new geodatabase as simple feature classes.
Making the Move
Migrating the data into the new geodatabase schema utilized several geoprocessing tools plus some manual work. The absence of annotation in the migration process, for one, was a positive step.
Data review and quality control actions were performed, and topology and attribute checks were completed to verify accuracy and compliance with the expected outcomes before the county reviewed the final file geodatabase.
The county's parcel fabric was then moved from a file geodatabase to its enterprise GIS system. Pro-West provided recommendations for the most efficient system architecture approach and performed the migration to ArcGIS Enterprise, which offered the county several benefits over the single, file geodatabase deployment, including the following:
- More robust database integrity
- Concurrent multiuser access and editing
- Branch versioning (or versioning for services), which means users can edit the data via a service, eliminating the need to directly connect to the enterprise geodatabase itself to make traditional versions. Branch versioning also assists with version management, which reduces the burden on the database administrator to compress the geodatabase.
- Creation of personal versions of the data, allowing users to generate their own working copy and post a completed version when ready, rather than posting incomplete data.
With the migration to the Parcel Fabric environment, the county had fields for all the data it needed to maintain, attribute rules to avoid redundant data entry and save time, and industry-standard technology with robust available support.
The next step was to implement Python scripts to accomplish the county's goals of achieving daily automated data publishing for internal and public use. Previously, Jones had spent upwards of a half day each month making and publishing updates, with more frequent updates impossible to fit into his workload.
Working with Pro-West, Python scripts were deployed to export data from the editing environment of Parcel Fabric to the county's internal mapping applications and publish data from Parcel Fabric to public-facing ArcGIS Online applications.
Now, almost all the update work previously performed by Jones on a monthly basis would be accomplished automatically every day, not only saving him time but empowering users with up-to-date information.
"Being able to get data from editing to production to public environments automatically is the holy grail for us," said Jones.
With the Python scripts running, the county's data could now be published via ArcGIS Online. Leveraging the data, Jones developed task-specific solutions for residents including the following:
Supporting the County's Long-Term Goals
The county wanted to maintain its own parcel data after the initial migration to Parcel Fabric. After taking a Pro-West-recommended Esri class on Parcel Fabric editing, Jones took custom training from Pro-West using the county's own newly migrated data. After Jones spent several months independently editing land records data in Parcel Fabric, he met with Pro-West again for an advanced training session.
Since migrating to Parcel Fabric and receiving training, Sutter County has achieved every goal set for the project, including the following:
- Saving time
- Retaining features of value to the county
- Moving data from editing to production and public environments
- Publishing data daily as opposed to monthly
- Offering support as needed, with a system that is the industry standard
- Tracking past parcel data to keep a historic record
Jones has advice for other counties wanting to migrate their parcel data to ArcGIS Parcel Fabric.
"Since Parcel Fabric is so configurable, you should be invested in making sure the data model you use provides what you need. If you don't invest in this effort, the results won't deliver what you need—you will only get out what you put in. With the right partner and staff involvement, Parcel Fabric can be a complete land records solution."