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Winter 2003/2004
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NILS Data Model Connects Survey and GIS for Cadastral Management

The National Integrated Land System (NILS) is a joint project between the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service in partnership with states, counties, and private industry to provide business solutions for the management of cadastral records and land parcel information in a GIS environment.

The goal of NILS is to provide a process to collect, maintain, and store parcel-based land and survey information that meets the common, shared business needs of land title and land resource management. click to see enlargementNILS contains the following four modules:

  • Survey Management for centrally managing field survey information
  • Measurement Management for survey-based computations to support the cadastre
  • Parcel Management for U.S. federal land records management
  • GeoCommunicator, BLM's GIS Catalog portal for publishing and disseminating NILS information to partner organizations (such as states and counties)

NILS provides the tools to manage land records and cadastral data from "field to fabric." This system supports the use of field survey measurement data taken directly from survey equipment, manipulating this data into lines and points, and creating legal land and parcel descriptions for use in mapping and land record maintenance.

A key part of the concept is the development of a common data model that unifies the worlds of surveying and GIS. This unification concept is fundamental for land records managers and maintainers of cadastral mapping databases to improve the accuracy and quality of the data. It is also important to create standard land descriptions and cadastral data that can be used by anyone. For example, U.S. counties and local governments rely on the national cadastre as a framework in which to fit local parcel and land records systems.

The content of these diagrams [PDF-4.83 MB] describes this data model in more detail. Along with Public Land Survey data that BLM is well known for managing, the model also includes the full spectrum of rights and interests for the approximately 130 million federal ownership polygons that are managed across 12 BLM jurisdictions. For more information on the data model, select the Land Parcels link at

ArcGIS technology is providing the foundation of NILS. Object-oriented software engineering techniques are being used to extend ArcGIS to meet the specific needs of NILS users. For more information on NILS, visit

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