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Visualizing Property Data to Answer Your Tough Business Questions

December 14, 2023  //  BY Nicole Herold

In a previous blog, we reviewed 5 Things to Understand About Parcel Boundaries, including the importance of data coverage, completeness, and currency. In this blog, we’ll highlight how parcel boundary data is solving real-world challenges for a wide variety of private and public users, and how First American Data & Analytics manages this specialty dataset.

Almost every industry that relies on public record property data – government, transportation, public safety, oil and gas, utilities, financial services, property services, investors, retail, and marketing, just to name a few – can benefit from pairing tabular data (data in columns or tables that has a discrete field for every data element – like a spreadsheet) with parcel boundaries (data that defines a shape and needs to be plotted on a map). This allows the user to visualize and analyze the data in ways that isn’t possible with tabular data alone.

Parcel boundary data is playing a significant role in improving disaster response. Wildfires are no longer a challenge just for the Southwestern United States. According to research from First Street Foundation, the number of areas at risk for wildfires is growing and there are almost 50 million properties facing at least a minor wildfire risk during the next 30 years. Throughout the country, public safety departments are proactively engaging property owners and entire communities to reduce wildfire risk by managing and reducing brush and other types of fuel. However, when a fast-moving fire does break out, public safety officials and first responders need to have immediate access to accurate ownership information. Knowing what parcels need to evacuate and who owns those parcels can save lives.

Infrastructure upgrades happen continuously, and parcel boundaries help support those efforts. As highways get widened, bridges rebuilt, and sewers repaired, these projects often require road closures and other dislocations that affect surrounding homes and businesses. By matching the ownership, property, and mailing address data to the parcel boundaries, transportation agencies can use a radius or boundary search to identify who needs to be informed of upcoming traffic schedule modifications.

Oil and gas companies, as well as utilities, have unique property data challenges since pipelines and transmission lines cross so many parcels from end to end. If a pipe breaks or a line needs to be accessed, it’s much easier to determine which parcels are affected by seeing them on a map with the pipe or line as an overlay. Some of these parcels may be vacant land without actual street addresses which can make them that much harder to find using only tabular data or trying to search individual county websites.

Retail and restaurant site selection requires a variety of data including property, traffic and live/work patterns, drive time and demographics. Linking these independent datasets together is necessary to analyze where target customers are at what time, day or night. Layering this data on a map with parcel boundaries improves the ability to analyze complicated information and trends. Seeing where the competitors are located is also key to finding the right property in the right place at the right time.

The First American Data & Analytics parcel boundary dataset, like our other datasets, has been curated and quality checked by our data experts. Today, our parcel boundary data covers 3,120 U.S. counties and 99% of the U.S. population. This specialty Geographic Information System (GIS) data has been acquired directly from the source, managed, and normalized to make it easy to use by focusing on:

  • Maximizing match rates to tabular data
  • Minimizing duplicates for multi-unit construction (Many:1 relationships)
  • Utilizing multiple types of spatial data to ensure boundaries are correctly positioned
  • Harmonizing the fabric to reduce overlapping and gapping
  • Tracking mergers and splits over time
  • Updating owners by using sales transactions


There are an endless number of uses for combining public record property data and parcel boundaries. Whether you are at the beginning of your spatial journey or have a well-formulated business idea, First American Data & Analytics is your one-stop-shop for linked property data and parcel boundaries. We’ve done the difficult work for you. Bring us your business challenge and we’ll help you solve it with data and parcel boundaries so it puts you on the map.


For more information, reach out to us at: datadriven@firstam.com

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