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Roanoke's new system for searching real estate records will be available Monday with a new look and more powerful tools.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
User s of Roanoke's geographic information system for searching city real estate records will find it has a new look and more powerful features when they log in Monday.
With the software for the existing GIS property search tool no longer supported by its vendor, the city had no choice but to upgrade the system, said Susan Lower, the city's director of real estate valuation.
"We looked at the requests [from users] and we looked at other jurisdictions and what they were offering," Lower said.
The new system keeps the same basic search options, including by owner's name, street name, property address and tax number, but adds new options for more sophisticated users.
One new tool allows users to draw a line through properties, or a rectangle, circle or irregular polygon, to define the parcels they want information on. Another tool allows the user to draw, color and label areas on the map to create images to be saved and used in reports or presentations.
Users have always been able to download the entire dataset of 45,000 properties, but now they can export the limited results of a specific search to a spreadsheet file.
All results will be mapped, and one click brings up the same location on a Google map.
Advanced search options, such as sale price, sale date, acreage or square footage, are now more conveniently contained to one page, instead of spread over multiple pages as in the old system.
These changes amount to just the first phase of ongoing upgrades, Lower said. Phase 2 is expected to include a mobile app and accessibility on Apple iPhones and iPads.
While the display will look different, the dataset behind the GIS remains the same, Lower said. The team working on the new $59,000 system for 18 months was sensitive to how changes to the popular tool might be received.
The GIS receives an average of 30 million hits per month from 30,000 visitors. They range from real estate agents and appraisers to private people researching the housing market to just plain nosey neighbors.
For those slow to accept change, though, the old system will remain available on the city's website for another six months.
On the Net: gis.roanokeva.gov
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