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August 2016

Table of Contents:

  1. Licensed Google Imagery Service
  2. Statewide Elevation Mapping Complete
  3. Additional Funding for Municipal Parcel Enhancments - Deadline Extended
  4. Part 'n' Parcel: Components of an L3 Geodatabase
  5. Database Updates
  6. Announcements & Events
Licensed Google Imagery Service

MassGIS has purchased a subscription for direct access to the latest high-quality Google ortho imagery. This imagery subscription provides any agency of the Commonwealth with Google's most current 6-inch resolution, natural color aerial imagery for all of Massachusetts.

The advantages to licensing imagery include significant cost savings for full statewide high resolution coverage, no storage requirements, and for more frequent updates for urban and high-interest areas than what was previously offered. The challenges are that imagery are not distributable to non-government entities and are usually acquired leaf-on, which can obscure valuable details, such as buildings.  
Any non-government user can easily view the imagery in Oliver, MassGIS’ online geospatial data viewer. Copies of the imagery files are not available for download to non-government users.

Fun Fact! MassGIS can readily track the usage of Google imagery via statewide heat map. In this image, you can see the frequency of imagery views across the Commonwealth, with darker colored tiles signifying the areas being viewed more often.
Statewide Elevation Mapping Complete

We are excited to announce that MassGIS has completed statewide elevation mapping to 1 meter digital elevation model (DEM) tiles. Over the course of six years, MassGIS has been assembling datasets from over nine project areas to create these detailed DEM tiles. The final acquisition of data in Western MA and the Blackstone Valley contribute to this notable milestone.
All data used to generate the DEM tiles were acquired using Lidar. Project areas were flown primarily for flood planning by the federal government, which is why most areas are named by watershed or, in the case of the coast, the 2012 Hurricane Sandy.
At present, NOAA is processing the most recently acquired Lidar point cloud data for public distribution. In the past, NOAA has posted the LAS point files on their Data Access Viewer download site. Additionally, MassGIS staff is creating a statewide 1 meter DEM from this Lidar dataset. The distribution method will be shared once determined.
Additional Funding for Municipal Parcel Enhancements- Deadline Extended
In 2013, MassGIS completed statewide standardization of assessor tax mapping (except for the city of Boston). While some communities began to maintain the standardized mapping, others did not because the standardized mapping did not support a variety of municipal needs. To address these needs, MassGIS has been providing funding enhancements to the standardized mapping for many communities.
Additional funding has been made available to provide beneficial enhancements to select communities. If your community is interested in this opportunity and has not already participated, please contact Craig Austin (
Part ‘n’ Parcel: Components of an L3 Geodatabase
The GISette will feature Level 3 (L3) Parcel topics in a series of upcoming articles to familiarize our readers with the utility, as well as the many complexities, of the parcel data. In this issue, we will provide an overview the six elements of standardized parcels: three feature classes and three database files. 

The MassGIS Level 3 parcel standard calls for data to be stored in an ESRI file geodatabase (fGDB) with three feature classes, a database table, and two look-up tables. Here is what you need to know:

  • TaxPar Feature Class (“tax” parcels) - Polygons or multi-part polygons link to one or more assessor tax records, unless it is a feature for which a tax record has not been established, such as public right-of-way or most water. Where two or more contiguous parcels have common ownership, the internal boundaries of these parcels have been removed. This creates a single polygon corresponding to the tax record(s), such as condominiums. Two or more non-contiguous parcel polygons sharing common ownership and corresponding to a single tax bill are converted to a multi-part polygon. Each multi-part polygon links to one or more assessor tax records. 
  • OthLeg Feature Class - This feature class contains polygons representing other legal interests in land, including representations of the “fee simple” property parcels that comprise the combined parcel polygons described in the TaxPar feature class. Preserving the “fee” parcels in this way means they can still be drawn as part of the tax map. Other legal interests in this feature class include various types of easements. Note that not all municipalities have mapped their easements.
  • Misc Feature Class - This feature class contains map features from the assessor parcel maps needed to produce a tax map with the content assessors’ are accustomed to seeing. This includes water, wetlands, and traffic islands, amongst others.
  • Assess Database Table - A standard extract from the assessor database, this table is comprised of about 25 elements, including property valuation, site address, state use code, owner, owner address, and select structure information.  
  • LUT Look Up Table - This is a look-up table for the MISC_TYPE attribute of the Misc feature class and the LEGAL_TYPE attribute of the OthLeg feature class.
  • UC_LUT Look Up Table – This is a look-up table for state use codes found in the assessing extract.
Image showing Tax parcels, Other legal interests, and miscellaneous features layers
Database Updates
  1. The MassDEP GIS Group has updated the following layers, made available by MassGIS:
  1. The Department of Agricultural Resources has updated Farmers Markets layer, made available by MassGIS.
  2. The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program has updated the Natural Communities layer, made available by MassGIS.
  3. MassGIS has updated Level 3 Assessors’ Parcel Mapping for 16 municipalities.
Announcements & Events
Staff News
After 4 years with MassGIS, Michael Warner, our Address Team Leader, is leaving to become East Longmeadow’s first GIS Coordinator. His unique combination of people skills and technology prowess have served us well in developing the mapping and address data at the heart of the Next Generation 9-1-1 system. Michael will be very missed, both personally and professionally. He and his wife, Miriam, recently celebrated the birth of their first child, Ronan. Congratulations to Michael on all these happy events and all the best in your new position!


Emailing Zip Files
Due to security vulnerabilities, MassIT is now quarantining any emails that have a Zip file attachment. If you must send a Zip attachment to any MassGIS staff, please contact them separately to inform them. For arranging for delivery of parcel files, please contact 
Digital Government Summit
The annual Massachusetts Digital Government Summit will be held at the newly renovated Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, MA on September 12 and 13, 2016. 
Learn More

The Fall 2016 Northeast Arc Users Group Conference (NEARC) is being held from October 16–19, 2016 at the Sea Crest Hotel in Falmouth, MA. 
Learn More

MassIT Division
One Ashburton Place, Fl. 8 
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 619-5611


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

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