For state and local governments, the storing and dissemination of records, information and data is an enormous but essential daily undertaking. From birth certificates to driver’s licenses and other important records, citizens, government employees and private enterprises need to be able to access the records that government agencies keep.
Unfortunately, for citizens, county employees and land developers in Fairfax County, Va., the ability to access the land use data that the county had on record was, until recently, a convoluted and difficult process.
This was a problem when you consider just how important land use data can be. From developers looking to identify the overall costs to purchase and develop a piece of land, to potential homebuyers looking for additional information on a home they’re considering purchasing, land use data is vital for many constituents.
The problems accessing land use data stemmed from records being kept in disparate, distributed systems and in a wide variety of formats. According to a recent article in Government Computer News, records were being stored in a variety of Oracle databases, 30-year old mainframe applications, and PDF files. This resulted in government workers and citizens scouring multiple databases and Web sites to find the information they were seeking.
To help alleviate the issue caused by disparate systems filled with a myriad of differing records, the county began creation of a new repository for land use data. This database consolidates all data, and ingests and analyzes both structured and unstructured data, to ensure that all county land use information is entered and stored in one place.
This new online repository also is searchable in multiple ways, including by address or keyword. This makes it significantly easier for county employees to find the information they’re seeking.
So far, the system has been so successful that the agencies are switching over and pulling the plug on existing mainframes months ahead of schedule. In fact, the repository is expected to be made available to the public next month.
By consolidating the existing, mainframe-based and disparate systems storing land use data, Fairfax County has helped to greatly increase the efficiency of their workforce. By moving this information online, they’re also making it easier for developers, builders, homebuyers and other constituents to find the records and information they need.