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January 2020

Table of Contents:

  1. Update on 2019 Orthophoto Acquisition
  2. Standardized Parcel Mapping – A retrospective: Part 1
  3. MassGIS Data Used in Popular Housing Density Tool
  4. Database Updates
  5. Announcements
Update on 2019 Orthophoto Acquisition
In our March edition we detailed the specifications and funding sources for our most recent orthophoto acquisition. In this age of instant photography, there can be misconceptions about the time it takes to capture, post-process, orthorectify, tile, cache, and otherwise ready imagery for distribution; some of these steps take days to complete. Very recently we received the new spring 2019 imagery and we have begun our work to get this out to you as fast as possible. We are not announcing a release date because, as past acquisitions have demonstrated, no matter our intentions and predictions, we often encounter technical obstacles that delay schedules.
The good news is that this high quality 15CM pixel resolution imagery will be available to everyone (unlicensed) as an image service for use in GIS software and online applications, and for free JPG2000 tile download from our website. Again, we cannot predict when the 2019 imagery will be released. The quickest way to know when it’s available is to sign up for our data updates emails..
Sample of 2019 orthophoto
Standardized Parcel Mapping – A retrospective: Part 1
Ten years ago, MassGIS launched a project to standardize statewide parcel mapping. The driving force was creating a foundation for the mapping needs of the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) emergency call routing system. High quality parcel-level mapping and address data are essential for successfully implementing and operating a NG911 system.

Status in 2010
In 2010, most municipalities in the state had a digital parcel file of some sort, whether CAD or GIS file format. However, in only about 10% of those municipalities was the parcel mapping standardized. Additionally, about 45 municipalities had no digital file, GIS or otherwise. Achieving an objective first identified in a 1988 MassGIS newsletter, in late 2013, MassGIS made available an on-line map viewer showing statewide standardized assessor parcel mapping. Over the next six years, typically with state funding assistance, municipalities transitioned to maintaining standardized mapping.
Status of standardized parcel mapping in 2010
Status in 2020
Fast forward 10 years and the standardized parcel mapping available through MassGIS is current to 2018 or 2019 for 341 of the state’s 351 cities and towns. Working with MassGIS, the remaining municipalities are at various stages of transitioning to maintaining standardized parcel mapping.
map showing standardized parcel mapping 2020
Many Contributors
While MassGIS initiated this project, we would not have been successful without support from many partners. These include all the consulting firms and regional planning agencies that participated in the original standardization work and that continue today with maintaining that standardization. Representatives of these companies and agencies often provided explanations and educational outreach to municipal staff. The assessing software vendors (CSC, Patriot, PK-Systems, and Vision Government Solutions) all supported this initiative by bulk-loading the unique identifier from standardized parcels into their customers assessing databases. Many municipal GIS staff also were pro-active in supported this initiative. Backed by the endorsement of the Executive Board for the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers, municipal assessors collaborated with MassGIS, our consultants, and their map maintenance service providers; they answered questions, provided data extracts, and fixed data problems. MassGIS deeply appreciates the efforts of all those who have supported this important success.
MassGIS Data Used in Popular Housing Density Tool
In December, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership published an online mapping tool that shows housing density around MBTA Commuter Rail and Rapid Transit stops. This tool relied almost exclusively upon MassGIS data, including standardized assessor parcel data and master address data. The tool’s purpose was showing the number of housing units per acre in areas near train and subway stations in the Boston metro area. While there are constraints not factored into this work, the study concludes that over 250, 000 additional housing units could potentially be built within a half mile of the 261 stations, which would help to decrease roadway congestion and increase the limited housing supply.
image showing screen shot of TODEX application
Database Updates
Standardized Assessor Parcels

As the article above highlights, the number of updates to individual cities and towns is increasing, therefor we’ll no longer list the municipalities here. The latest update comprises 77 cities and towns (with another 30 almost ready)
Go here for full the list of latest additions, metadata, and links to the free data download.
View and query parcels statewide in the Massachusetts Interactive Property Map.
This online map now includes an option to download data for an entire municipality. From the Layers dropdown check the Download items and click anywhere to download all the parcel data for that city or town.
The cached tiled web service that appears in Oliver and is available in ArcGIS Online includes these latest updates.

MassGIS has edited the MBTA Rapid Transit layers

MassGIS adjusted some linework for the Silver Line 2 and 3 branches and modified the Grade field based on 2018 Google Imagery. MassGIS also edited the placement and names of some stops on the Silver Line Branches 2 and 4/5 based on the most current imagery and information at  
In Oliver and the Data Viewer the layers are in the Infrastructure > Trains folder.

MassGIS, working with the MassDEP GIS Group, has renamed a small number of features in the 25k Hydro, 100K Hydro, and Major Ponds data layers.
These changes were based on GNIS names and other input:
  • Lake Rico (PALIS 62148), Taunton: Added to HYDRO25K_POLY and ARC, replacing old polygons and linework in that area. Also added to 100k and Major Hydro.
  • Lake Ellis (PALIS 35023), Athol: Renamed from "Ellis Pond". (25k and 100k)
  • Petersons Saw Mill Pond (PALIS 94111), Duxbury: Renamed from "North West Duxbury Pond". (25k,100k, Major)
  • Nipmuc Pond (PALIS 51111), Mendon: Renamed from "Nipmuck Pond". (25k and 100k)
  • Assabet River, Northborough: The word "Reservoir" was removed from the name. (25k)
  • Betty Pond (PALIS 35010), Templeton: Renamed from "Brazell Pond". (25k and 100k)
  • Cochituate Brook (SARIS 8248010), Framingham: Renamed from "Unnamed Trib". (25k and 100k)
The MassDEP GIS Group has updated the following layers, now available from MassGIS: Data are up-to-date through November 25, 2019.
In Oliver and the ArcMap Data Viewer, all data are found in the Regulated Areas folder, except Public Water Supplies (Infrastructure folder).
Annually, a relative handful of employees across the Commonwealth’s workforce are celebrated for exemplary performance via the Performance Recognition Program. This year, our web mapping services manager, Aleda Freeman, was recognized for coordinating the successful migration and version upgrade of MassGIS web mapping services from their long-time location at the state data center to Amazon Web Services. Her ability to work with a wide variety of technical and non-technical staff, her communication skills and her constant attention to detail go above and beyond and were a key part of this successful outcome
Aleda Freeman, Secretary Curt Wood and Chief of Staff Brian Domoretsky

Massachusetts Bureau of Geographic Information – MassGIS
Executive Office of Technology Services and Security - EOTSS
One Ashburton Place – Floor 8 
Boston, MA 02108

Phone: (617) 619-5611
Fax: (617) 889-7833

Share your exciting project with the GIS community
MassGIS – The Commonwealth’s Bureau of Geographic Information is located within the Massachusetts Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, and is charged with the collection, enhancement, storage, and dissemination of the Commonwealth’s geographic data and information.
Neil MacGaffey, MassGIS Director
Curtis Wood, EOTSS Secretary
Karyn Polito, Lt. Governor
Charlie Baker, Governor

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