If you are looking for piece of property in Stokes County, you have brand new set of tools to find it with thanks to a new GIS system recently released by the county.
“It has been in beta for about two months now,” said County GIS Specialist Greg Hunsucker. “We want people to visit the new site and experience it and let us know what the like and don’t like.”
GIS, which stands for geographic information systems, is used to produce maps of the county including any variety of data sets like voting districts, flood plains, or utilities.
The new Stokes County GIS system, powered by ROK Technologies, Inc., is web-based and accessible through a variety of platforms from smart phones to desktop computers.
Hunsucker said the move to a web-based system, as opposed to the existing in-house system, would allow the county to keep more up-to-date with constantly evolving technology, and offer new services like accessibility on smart phones. He noted the system is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, noting that the GIS services were used by a variety of people.
“Surveyors, realtors, appraisers and most of our attorneys who are doing property research are the power users,” said Hunsucker. “Then you have the general public who is just curious who their neighbor is or want to look around at the property owners in the area they are located.”
Users can turn on, or off, different sets of data, called layers, to analyze a variety of statistics about any property in the county. Currently the system offers layers for structures, roads, driveways, contour lines, parcel lines, footprint layers, FEMA flood zones, census data, school districts, zip codes, voting districts, and EMS and fire districts. All of the layers, and the data they represent, can be combined to create detailed reports on specific property.
“There is a lot crammed into something that is easily accessible through the internet, and you can see as much or little as you want,” said Hunsucker. “We will be adding zoning after September, when we move out of the beta phase and that will include all of our cities and the county zoning.”
Users of the new mapping system can easily select a property, turn on appropriate layers, ask the program to calculate things like setbacks for the property and then export all of the data and maps to a PDF format that can be shared with customers or potential buyers.
“This new website gives them those tools anywhere in the world,” said Hunsucker.
“Any kind of company that may be interested in coming to Stokes County can use this site to determine where the water and sewer lines are at, what kind of utilities are available at different properties and run an analysis on what different properties are zoned for, what business are already there, run reports on residential density and have all of that data ready before they even come to a municipality or the county and express an interest in coming here,” said Stokes County Tax Administrator Jake Oakley.
Hunsucker said the new system also supports geolocation, so it can place you on a map based on where your phone is transmitting from, and Google street-view, so people researching property can see what it looks like from the ground. In September the system will also be integrated with county tax records to provide a much more detailed data set for each property in the county.
“Right now you just see the owner name, a deed and a pin number,” said Hunsucker. “In September you will see more information like the property value.”
Oakley said the new GIS system will be part of a three pronged network that will make all of the county’s tax process accessible through the internet by mid-September.
“At that point everything will be on the North Carolina public website with all of the tax records and property values, you will have the GIS system powered by this new web-based technology and you will have a website which will feature the new PayPal service for the collections system,” he said. “All three of these systems will link together and you can just select what area you want to go to and do your business. You will be able to do everything online.”
But, Oakley cautioned that while the new online services will make researching data and making payments much easier for customers, many things will still require hiring a surveyor or attorney.
“It is not intended for you to do any legal work from,” he said. “It is not meant to do final surveys from, it is not meant for you to do a title search on, and it is not meant for you to use to pass title ownership of land. All of these things have to be done, by North Carolina statute, by an actual lawyer or licensed surveyor.”
He also added that while the new GIS system offers users many more tools and flexibility it still does not provide the full range of services, like large format prints or help dealing with larger tacks of property, that can be offered in the county offices.
“This is still just a website,” he said. “We offer many more GIS services here int he office, you just have to come in and ask.”
A link to the new mapping system can be found on county web site at www.co.stokes.nc.us, or directly accessed at http://maps2.roktech.net/StokesGoMaps4
Anyone with questions, suggestions or concerns about the new system is encouraged to contact Hunsucker at 336-593-2461 or email@example.com
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.