Washington Cadastral Framework Project

by Carrie Wolfe, DNR Information Technology Project Manager

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has an extensive Geographic Information System (GIS) that has been in existence for over 14 years. The statewide digital data in the DNRGIS includes many data themes such as hydrography, transportation, soils, and cadastral data. Cadastral data is that which defines the geographic extent of past, present, and future rights and interests in real property. It is the backbone of most data in the GIS. Public Land Survey System (PLSS) data and property rights such as surface ownership are examples of cadastral data.

As technology has advanced and become more affordable over the years, many federal, state, local, private, and tribal organizations have developed similar GIS data layers for use in daily business. Many more organizations will likely follow in the near future. Each time a GIS is developed, a data collection and maintenance cost is incurred. Oftentimes, similar data themes are required by organizations and a real redundancy of effort and cost occurs. Additionally, different data standards are often created that can hinder data sharing capabilities.

In response to this situation, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) initiated the concept of framework data. Framework efforts can take many forms, but essentially it is an effort to share in the cost of data collection and maintenance, improve communications, and increase efficiency. Framework data is that which is commonly needed, integrated, and maintained by public and private organizations within a geographic area. It can provide a foundation on which organizations can build by adding their own detailed business attributes. Frameworks also create new opportunities for cross-organizational and cross-jurisdictional analysis and operations. For more information on framework, see the FGDC web site (http:/www.fgdc.gov/Framework).

The Washington Cadastral Framework is an effort to identify and develop a standard data model for the commonly needed and maintained cadastral data among federal, state, local, and private organizations throughout the state. Project partners will develop a new way of doing business; where partners share responsibilities, commitment, benefits, and control. The DNR is leading this partnership effort under the guidance of the Washington Geographic Information Council. We have received a federal grant from the FGDC as part of the project funding. FGDC standards will be followed in developing the framework data and metadata (data about data). When complete, data distribution and maintenance among the framework partners will take place via the Internet.

Currently, there are nineteen organizations participating as framework partners. These participants include four federal agencies, five state agencies, five county jurisdictions, two regional county organizations, and three private organizations. A diverse list of cadastral data business needs have been identified from each of these factions. Each partner will help meet these needs by filling an institutional role, or combination of roles, based on their capabilities and constraints. These roles may include data contribution, integration, maintenance, distribution, framework management, and framework coordination.

State legislation can also prompt need for framework data. The Growth Management Act (GMA) and Buildable Lands Program are two examples of legislative requirements that will benefit from framework data. Growth Management legislation requires county planning that includes specific land use designations. The Buildable Lands Program legislation involves six west side counties and their associated cities. It is intended to determine wether a county and it's cities are achieving urban densities within their adopted GMA urban growth boundaries. Currently, each county has developed their own data standards in developing this data. This makes regional or statewide analysis very difficult. Another example of state legislation that will benefit from framework data is the Public Lands Inventory Project. A consistent statewide GIS data layer of public lands will prove very helpful in this effort to inventory all public lands within the state.

There are compelling business needs for common resource data in the state. There are many environmental and population growth issues and circumstances that have prompted a good deal of interest in the Cadastral Framework. Many local, state, and federal initiatives require data that is coordinated and flows across jurisdictional boundaries. The Washington Cadastral Framework is a step in the right direction to help meet these needs by implementing a standard data model, cooperatively sharing data and maintenance, and filling institutional partnership roles.