2009-07-02

The Progressive Property Appraiser

The other day, while wearing my GIS hat, I received a request for updated parcel and land use data for Alachua County Florida. After locating our current geodatabase for that county, finding it neatly organized and fully documented, I scanned the meta-data seeking to establish both the temporal relevance of what data we have and the contact information for the publisher of the data, in this case the Alachua County Property Appraiser's office. Having already determined the need for updated data and it place of origin, I accordingly proceeded to visit the aforementioned agency's web site to download a newer set of data.

Alachua County Property Appraiser's Web Site

Being a veteran in the practice of GIS data acquisition and maintenance for our data library for several years, I was fully prepared to be underwhelmed by the contents of the Property Appraiser's web site but was instead surprised to see a professionally done site that was useful, navigable, accessible, and replete with pertinent information and most important of all, my coin-of-the-realm, data. This was a truly rare find awash in a sea of what can only be described as LSD inspired web sites, timid in effort, ill-considered in scope, and self-serving in implementation. This site, however, was good and moreover it was designed and implemented with the public good in mind. The data was easy to find, well packaged, available in multiple formats, and even documented with meta-data. They even did their SEO right and were the top result in Google unlike sadly so many others in their same shoes.

In keeping with my karmic outlook on life, I do on occasion try to point out the things that people do well as a balance to the myriad of occasions wherein I unabashedly point out the ill-considered and more beef-witted activities and results that the winds of happenstance leave at my doorstep. Accordingly, I wrote a quick message, an email, to the Property Appraiser using the email address offered to visitors via the "Contact Us" page.

Sadly, finding such a site is such a rarity that yes it warranted both an email and a blog post. Good job Alachua County!