NOTE: This document was archived by the Governor's Council on Geographic Information on 3-27-2001.  It was originally housed on the Minnesota Department of Administration's website.

Intergovernmental Information Systems Advisory Council

| Foreword | Executive Summary | Introduction |



This document is one part of a study that was completed to assist local governments to complete a needs analysis and implement a parcel-based GIS system. The other part is the analysis of a survey that was undertaken to find out the current state of parcel-based GIS in Minnesota. We did not include that document with the "Needs Analysis and Implementation Guide" because it is primarily statistical and the survey results were used to create this document. If you have a need to do further research, copies of the survey document may be obtained by contacting the Intergovernmental Information Systems Advisory Council (IISAC).

It is the intention of IISAC to make this a "living" document. As you review or use the document, we would appreciate any comments that you might have that will improve the content. Please send them to IISAC and we will consider adding them to the document. (See **COMMENT** below.)

This document is on the Internet at "". The Internet document will be kept up-to-date as best we can.

**COMMENT** As you go through this document you will see **COMMENT**. This will be a statement that has been made to IISAC regarding this document after the initial publishing date that we have added to the document. If you feel that you have something to add to this document, please send your comments to IISAC. If it meets the overall intent of the document, it will be added to the document. Please note all of the section numbers associated with the comment you make.

Send comments to:
Tim Breza
Executive Director, IISAC
320 Centennial Building
658 Cedar St.
St. Paul, MN 55155


NAIS stands for The Needs Assessment and Implementation Study for Parcel Based Geographic Information Systems in Minnesota Local Governments. It was funded by the Intergovernmental Information Systems Advisory Committee [IISAC], conceived and supervised by The NAIS Project Committee (chaired by Jeffrey Grosso of Goodhue County and composed of individuals involved in county and city government from across the state), and conducted by BRW, Inc. It documented the current state of parcel based GIS in Minnesota local government and provided guidance in successfully implementing parcel-based GIS. The aim of this project was to understand the spatial data needs, implementation means, and realized benefits of GIS. It is not intended to be a catalog of particular experiences, data availability, or software use.

The project consisted of a Targeted Survey of local units of government (LGUs) who were identified as having or implementing parcel-based GIS, interviews with key individuals who had completed the Targeted Survey, and a Comprehensive Survey of all counties and all cities over 5000 population. Responses came from 136 departments in 83 counties, 94% of all counties in Minnesota. City responses totaled 89, coming from 86 cities, 70% of all cities over 5,000 [four responses were from cities less than 5,000]. The project has resulted in a report of findings and an Implementation Guide for Parcel-Based GIS.

Our report discusses the needs for and uses of land and geospatial information. We record how GIS has been implemented and used in Minnesota local government. This includes information on methods and strategies used. We address issues of costs and benefits and cooperative GIS development. We conclude with general statements about general trends we have identified and list factors that contribute to successful GIS implementation.

Main Findings
GIS implementation in Minnesota LGUs can be divided into 7 categories:

  1. Ground Zero - no GIS activity [28 county and 15 city respondents]
  2. Seekers - learning more about GIS [40 county and 16 city respondents]
  3. Planners - planning for GIS [21 county and 17 city respondents]
  4. Testers - testing and proving concepts, benefits, costs, and methods [10 county and 12 city respondents]
  5. Implementors - developing a full scale, first generation, GIS [14 county and 13 city respondents]
  6. Maintainers - using and maintaining a full scale GIS [5 county and 18 city respondents]
  7. Advancers - preparing to move on to the next generation of GIS, blurring the lines between GIS and other information technologies. [8 county and 3 city respondents]
Our study has found that coordinate controlled parcel-based GIS is fundamental to realize most of the benefits of this technology in Minnesota local government. The demands on Minnesota local government increase while available resources continue to be constrained. We found that the wise implementation of GIS technology can make a significant contribution to service delivery and overall efficient and effective local government operations. Financial investment and technical guidance are key to the realization of this technology's potential in local government. Coordinate controlled parcel-based GIS will eventually come to Minnesota local government everywhere because the needs of these organizations will require it. The real question is how soon can the benefits be realized and how efficiently can the investment be managed. Our findings lead us to conclude that a coordinated, multi-jurisdictional approach to funding and standards establishment will provide the most benefits for the least cost in the shortest time.

**COMMENT** The following important text extracted from the report should be inserted in the Executive Summary:

**COMMENT** "Overall the document is ...extremely comprehensive and useful.... Five Stars!... A must have for any county, city or other organization thinking about implementing GIS."


This document is a practical guide to aid in the successful implementation of a parcel based Geographic Information System. By this we mean a GIS that has land parcel boundaries and land ownership information as a basic part of all its digital maps. These boundaries and ownership information are then available for the creation of digital maps showing other features (i.e. land use, zoning, right of way, etc.)

The recommendations given here draw upon the results of NAIS surveys and interviews with Minnesota counties and cities, pertinent published documents, and the experience of consultants. This document does not make the case for a parcel-based GIS, but discusses how to create a successful one.

In most cases, Minnesota counties will be creating or contracting for parcel-base maps. For this reason some parts of this section will not pertain to some cities. However, cities will likely cooperate with their counties to obtain parcel based data for their jurisdictions or participate in the creation of the parcel-base.

While the range of GIS and datasets used will vary somewhat by region, population size, dominant economic activity, rate of growth, etc., the general methods of GIS implementation remain the same. This document pertains to GIS implementation for all Minnesota counties and cities throughout the state.

Many GIS plans are shorter than this document. They represent only the end product of these detailed considerations. Also, GIS implementations, and the GIS plans that are part of them, are not static. They should change in response to new knowledge, needs, technology, and opportunities. Each plan should be a living document that is flexible and can be amended as situations change. The organizational structure outlined here may seem excessive for some units of government. While the involvement of larger numbers of interested parties is beneficial, a small number of individuals can fulfill all the organizational functions we discuss.

While the range of GIS and datasets used will vary somewhat by region, population size, dominant economic activity, rate of growth, etc, the general methods of GIS implementation remain the same. This document pertains to GIS implementation for all Minnesota counties and cities throughout the state.

Most experts lay out detailed and elaborate plans for organization-wide GIS implementations. NAIS found that most successful implementations in Minnesota local government had a narrower focus and simpler plans. Scale planning efforts to the type, size and complexity of your governmental jurisdiction, and to the breadth and nature of political support. Within these parameters, "touch all the bases" listed below in some way. In many cases the consideration of each planning point can be rather informal, but each of these issues must be considered. If possible at this point, hire a GIS professional, on staff or as a consultant, to help direct this effort.

NAIS surveys and interviews found a preponderance of success in GIS implementations. They also revealed the keys to this success.

E-mail comments or questions to IISAC at

| GIS Guide Index | Continue | HOME|
back to top