Justifying Appraised Values Just Got a Lot Easier

By Billy Burle, VP Sales and Marketing

We’re excited to announce DREAMaps Online now includes a comp tool. The new comp tool allows you to select a subject parcel and identify the most relevant comps. Sounds simple, right? Well, simple is often difficult to create. We spent a lot of time during the design process talking with many appraisers, GIS professionals, and realtors to identify what would provide you with the most value. We also reviewed other comp tools on the market to identify what was missing from current offerings.

Based on the feedback, we focused on two things: usability and flexibility.

  1. Usability – This is a core focus in everything we do. Our goal is to make it so easy to use that a child could figure it out just by clicking around. Of course, that may not be as impressive as it used to be since kids these days seem to be training us on how to use various devices 🙂
  2. Flexibility – One of the biggest complaints we received about other comp tools was that they were not flexible enough. Therefore, we made ours as flexible as possible by providing an easy to use admin section that allows users to configure most of the data in the comp tool. Users can decide what filters to include in the drop down menu based on any attribute in the database and even set default filters to automatically run. Users can also decide what data to display in each of the pop-up windows as well as what to display on the printable comp report.

Here’s what the tool looks like:

comp tool1
Add as many filters as you need
comp tool details
View side by side details to help choose the best comps
comp report
Generate a configurable comp report

As you can see, the DREAMaps Online comp tool makes it easier than ever to “show your work”. If you would like to learn more or see a live web demo contact sales@sds-inc.com


Fix This Process: Recorded Document to Mapped Parcel

By Billy Burle, VP Sales and Marketing

When talking about workflow within the parcel mapping environment, most people think of the workflow associated with completing a split or a join. There’s nothing wrong with that, we do the same thing when talking about our product DREAMaps Mapper. Once you’re deep in the editing mode of a parcel or group of parcels, it’s important to have some kind of workflow to complete the task. However, that’s not the workflow I’ll be discussing here. Instead let’s take a step back and look at the mapping workflow as a whole.maze

The mapping workflow doesn’t start with GIS. It typically starts with a document. That document triggers a series of actions that lead to a mapper editing the map. That process, the one that goes from a recorded document to a mapped parcel is riddled with inefficiencies and unnecessary manual processes. As a technology enthusiast, I have to say technology has gotten too good to allow you to continue down this path needlessly.

Let’s look at an example of using available technology to automate this process using DREAMaps Online as the primary integration platform. First off, if the documents are stored in another system and / or another office like the Register of Deeds office, DREAMaps Online can import those into our system on a regular basis. Those documents can be filtered along the way so that only relevant land records documents make it to the system.

 Let’s stop and think about that for a moment. [insert dramatic pause] If you are printing documents and manually reviewing them you can now stop doing that! We have a solution for you.  Continue reading

Sales Ratio Studies: Make sure your GIS is doing the heavy lifting

By Billy Burle, VP Sales and Marketing

It’s been said that “if a picture is worth a thousand words, a map is worth a thousand pictures”.  I couldn’t agree more.  The power of maps and GIS is the ability to quickly visualize information to give you a greater sense of understanding and clarity about all of the data you have at your fingertips.

I could write for days regarding all of the examples related to the power of spatial visualization (that’s a fun phrase to say, isn’t it).  However, because I like you, I’m going to spare you all of my spatial ramblings and focus on just one example – sales ratio studies.

The role of a local government assessor is to ensure fair and equitable taxation for the property owners in their jurisdiction.  Essentially, like properties in the same geographic location should have similar appraised values.  Visit www.IAAO.org for a plethora of resources relating to fair and equitable taxation.

Now, let’s look at sales ratios within a specific neighborhood.  The example below shows the calculated appraisal statistics for the selected parcels. They are also sorted into various ranges and color coded as such.

Outliers shaded blue
Outliers shaded blue

Continue reading

DREAMaps Online – The Analyst Tab for Appraisers

DREAMaps Tabs

The “A” in DREAMaps

There are just too many features of new DREAMaps Online to cover in one email (and chances are you don’t want an email that long anyway) so I’m going to just cover the Analyst tab.  Analyst, our most widely used product, was built for appraiser by appraisers as an easy to use GIS viewer.  Since a picture paints a thousand words, I’ll spare you a bunch of words and show you some pictures

DREAMaps Analyst

The chart above represents the appraised value vs. sale ratio deviation distribution with clickable data points that highlight those parcels on the map.  The example also shows that you can quickly color code the selected parcels based on fields such as neighborhood. Continue reading

What is LiDAR and what does it have to do with Outdoor Advertising?

As new technologies go, few look as futuristic and as hi-tech as LiDAR which stands for LIght Detection and Ranging or Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging.  Even the name makes it sound futuristic.  However, LiDAR is merely a remote sensing technology that uses laser light sensors mounted on either vehicles or aircraft to illuminate a target in order to gather the appropriate data.  Notice the animation to the right showing a simplistic view of a laser identifying surface area (from wikipedia).  The result of a LiDAR collection is what is called a point cloud or a 3D image made up of points representing the external surfaces of the target objects.  A single sensor may collect up to 800,000 X, Y, and Z points per second to create a 3D model and animations.

Today, LiDAR is used in a wide variety of disciplines including geomatics, geology, geomorphology, bathymetry, forestry, archeology, contour mapping, gaming, and even music videos.  Apparently the  indie rock band Radiohead thought it was cool enough to create an entire music video based on the technology.  Whether or not you’re a fan of their music, it’s interesting to see an artistic view of LiDAR.

Here is the Radiohead video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nTFjVm9sTQ Continue reading

Bad Puns, Netflix, and What it Means to be a SAAS-y Government

By Billy Burle, VP Sales and Marketing

Is your view of SAAS (Software-as-a-Service) a little “cloudy”?  If so, I’ll see what I can do to help clear the air. Maybe shed a little sunlight on the situation.  Ok, ok, I’m done with the bad puns. But seriously, the SAAS / cloud services model can have a huge impact on how you run your office and in turn impact the level of service you provide to the public.  Unfortunately, these terms have been thrown around so much in the last two years that they have almost been degraded to buzzwords, just noise we’re all starting to ignore.  Buzzwords aside, let’s take a closer look into what SAAS really is and what it offers.

What is SAAS?  Cloud SAAS

The definition of Software-as-a-Service as defined by Gartner is “software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at anytime on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics.”  Well if you’re still reading that means you didn’t fall asleep during that definition. Let’s try to simplify that a bit.  Think of it as “software on demand”.  Consider various web-based mail services like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Hotmail and compare them with Microsoft Outlook.  Those web-mail services are a form of SAAS.  You get all the features of an email service without having to install the software on your computer.  You just login through the internet and you’re off and running.  You don’t have to do anything to make it work – it just works. Continue reading

Fair and Equitable Taxation: Why Good Data isn’t Good Enough

By Billy Burle, VP Sales and Marketing, SDS

Vince Lombardi once said “practice doesn’t make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect”. This is one of those quotes that just sticks with you and can be applied to so many parts of our daily lives. It reminds us in work and play to step back and ask am I just practicing or am I truly perfecting what I do?

For the assessment and parcel mapping community, ensuring fair and equitable taxation for your constituents is something certainly worth perfecting, wouldn’t you agree?. Fair and EquitableTo do this there are many geospatial tools and programs you can leverage that help you take an auditing approach to ascertain the validity and reliability of your tax parcel information. To perform an audit of your real property we recommend you take multiple steps for identifying gaps or inconsistencies between graphic and non-graphic databases such as your GIS and CAMA data.

Steps to Performing a Real Property Audit™ Continue reading