Newton County (Georgia), located east of Atlanta on the edge of the metropolitan region, has a population of approximately 110,000, with a mix of suburban and rural developments. The County’s GIS Department serves five municipalities in addition to its unincorporated area.

The County maintains Tax Assessors’ parcel data – i.e. real estate data related to address, parcel number, acreage, value, ownership, etc. – and continually extracts them from Computer-assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) systems for use by other departments. One of GIS Department’s key responsibilities is to provide these valuable data in a GIS format to various government departments such as Enhanced 911, Planning & Development, Elections, Emergency Services, public utilities and various other groups. The data are updated nightly so that the most recent information is provided to the County’s stakeholders.

THE CHALLENGE

For many years, the process of linking Tax Assessors’ CAMA data with GIS systems was accomplished with a combination of SQL and Python scripts. This process was extremely cumbersome because maintaining or updating the workflow was always a challenge. Moreover, it relied on Esri technology that was no longer supported and had been retired. Since critical information was being provided to the County’s various stakeholders, it was necessary to revise the workflow with a new approach that would be more robust and easier to manage or scale up. In short, GIS was looking for a “one stop” solution where all the myriad individual steps of the old process could be accomplished with one simple step.

With that objective, GIS acquired its first FME license in 2018 but wanted assistance due to lack of familiarity with the software. Consortech was brought in to provide in-depth coaching which is part of our “Starter Kit” package. The goal was two-fold:

    1. Transfer knowledge to introduce the FME software to the County’s staff;
    2. Replace the old Parcel View creation process with a vastly more efficient FME workflow.

HOW WE HELPED

Through years of experience, Consortech has gained a strong reputation in FME coaching services. Far from providing simple training overviews, our integrated coaching approach is based on working closely with our client’s team to help them acquire a solid hands-on experience on the project that they want to accomplish with FME. Our coaching is built on industry best practices.

Accordingly, when working with the GIS Department, we first analyzed with them the idea of creating a new FME workflow that handles everything in one single step, seamlessly automating the eight individual steps previously needed. We guided the client’s team to build an FME workflow that leveraged part of the SQL scripts they used previously in order to establish smooth connections with the CAMA dataset. We then added FME Transformers to apply more validation measures for enhanced reliability and accuracy. That’s not all! Our expert also helped integrate quality control checks that notify the user in a timely manner if some part of the process fails or if there are records that need manual review.

This new design helped the GIS Department adopt the process more easily and scale it up as required. Over the course of the several coaching sessions that we provided, the GIS team benefitted from a thorough and customized training with practical exercises and active involvement in the project.

THE VALUE WE PROVIDED

The FME solution that we devised and implemented together in this way has proved to be a lot more efficient and easier to maintain, offering a much superior functionality compared to the old system. The data quality and accuracy guaranteed by the new FME system has greatly contributed to boost the GIS group’s confidence and peace of mind. They now feel well equipped to provide more data in less time to the County’s stakeholders who, in turn, are able to make informed decisions in a timely manner. In short, a wonderful win-win experience for everyone!

 

The Starter Kit accomplished our two goals of providing knowledge transfer of how to use the FME software while also developing a useful and much-needed product that is used everyday. We received such a good return on our investment that we immediately purchased a second Starter Kit!

Scott Sirotkin

GIS Coordinator, Newton County

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