I just attended a PRIA session on Geographic Information Systems.  It was an excellent session.  My key take-aways were a look at our future and the future of land records:  current, accurate, connected. Easy and fun for users.

  • An excellent presentation by a WisconsinJeanne Johnson - Online Real Estate Classes Register of Deeds pointed out that the use of GIS for the public goes well beyond the traditional role of those of us who search land records for title companies and lenders. GIS can be used to interface with topography, zoning, 911 emergency services as well as the traditional tax, assessment and land records. It means more accurate data sharing, and less duplicity.
        • Key to the plan is something called Parcel Fabric – on the surface, that means a clickable online map tied to a PID, Address and Owner Name. But Parcel Fabric is much deeper, meaning many, many layers of information on the land – surveys, topography, soil information, aerial photography, links to government services, zoning. The list is endless. And these tie primarily to Parcel ID’s, which we know are far from perfect when examining a title, yet workable, I think. We just have to adapt and learn a new way to search.
        • A quick demonstration was given of a new GIS parcel that was created by combining two existing parcels. I liked that. It showed how, with just a click, the history of the parcel could be obtained when a new parcel ID is created, showing the previous documents via old PID and history.

It was clear that the presenters are each very familiar with their respective pieces, but their perspective is from the tech side and recorder’s side and not so much from that of a title abstractor or title insurer. I was disappointed that neither ALTA nor MISMO were represented in the discussion, nor actively involved, but glad to hear that Fidlar and TriMin Systems are, as they are familiar to most of us. Certainly there needs to be more input from key users as, understandably, the GIS software developers, don’t have the depth of knowledge of those of us who use the County Records to search land records.  Identifying the missing pieces, such as documents that don’t tie to a PID, but rather to a person’s name, could really  make GIS work for us and be invaluable.

I recommend that you ALL review the GIS Toolkit Draft from PRIA and give input. This is our chance to make the system that is certainly coming fit our needs.  I was around when we were doing microfilm, then when we switched to computerized records. I was around with pen and ink signatures on paper and now Remote Online Notarization and e-signatures. The world changes quickly and we must change with it!  Let’s prepare for the inevitable and work with PRIA and others to make it the best it can be.