Transforming Community Development with Land Information Systems
A new era of data democracy has arrived, enabling tremendous improvements in land information systems and opening up a wealth of opportunities for the practice of community development and the management of community resources.
Geographic information systems (GIS) and web services have dramatically expanded the ability to access, analyze, disseminate, and display vast quantities of data. These powerful technologies make it possible for cities, counties, and even regions to integrate their administrative databases and make parcel-level information available to the public via the Internet.
Community organizations that gather and analyze data, together with the national networks that support them, also play a crucial role in the democratization of data—serving as bridge-builders for technology, government, and the community. With this extensive information infrastructure in place, community development practitioners now have greater access to the detailed property data that are so vital for analyzing and monitoring changes in neighborhood real estate markets.
This report is part of a multiyear research and action project by PolicyLink, the Urban Institute, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy to advance the field of parcel data systems and their application to community revitalization and equitable development. It describes how pioneering organizations and partnerships are turning robust, integrated parcel data systems into powerful tools for guiding community change.
Case studies of five cities and regions—Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis–St. Paul, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC—detail some of the nation’s most promising applications of property-level information. They were selected to demonstrate how land information systems can be used to address a wide range of community development challenges on both an urban and regional scale.