As we approach budget time for 2016, many of you are taking a hard look at your data subscriptions and trying to make the best decisions. Return on investment in GIS data is critical, and multi-hundred to million dollar commitments should be thoroughly analyzed for alternatives, and a gap analysis performed.
This past year, several major companies have switched to WhiteStar because the data are curated and the value and upgrade paths better and more clear.
The expense and uncertainty of moving polygons (parcels, oil and gas leases, rights-of-way) from an existing grid to the WhiteStar Grid is one of the two biggest perceived obstacles facing our clients – and one that now has a well-developed set of solutions.
For example, polygons having legal descriptions in terms of the Public Land Survey System or PLSS can be “automapped” to the new grid. Example: 15 15S 43W SW/4 SW/4. WhiteStar Lots, Tracts, and Quarter-Quarters can help to automate additional descriptions such as 36 15S 43W Lot 13 - which previously required hand mapping.
This leaves approximately 20% of the polygons, on average, that are described in terms of metes and bounds and are scattered throughout the PLSS, Texas, and other non-Jeffersonian areas.
WhiteStar offers a proprietary service to quickly and efficiently move those polygons to WhiteStar Grid, adding attributes to the polygons to show how much they have been shifted relative to their old positions. GPS grade survey data can also be integrated into the land survey fabric at this time to provide the ultimate solution.
The Legal Question
The second problem is more of a legal challenge. Many clients are told by vendors that they must go back and delete every instance of their use of proprietary data - including hard copy maps and backed up data.
While it is understandable that vendors do not want former customers accessing their data, it is fairly onerous burden to go back, find, and delete copies of the data from archives, though this is less difficult now with the advent of cloud storage. A proper plan must be implemented to fully comply with the license agreements one may have signed in the past. It is critical that you negotiate reasonable terms around archive and deletion in your contracts.
Since data licenses can run to many hundreds of thousands of dollars, it makes sense to build a carefully crafted plan to switch sources.
Sometimes the process will need to run in parallel to prove the validity of the switching decision. An individual inside your organization may need to perform a needs and obligations analysis before the project can be undertaken, but we can assure you it is worth the savings and the security of better quality data – whether you are switching to WhiteStar grid or making any other critical core data decision.
If you’re contemplating a switch, here are some questions to ask:
- What are my current capital investment, term, and legal obligation?
- Is there a clearly articulated plan to update the data?
- Does each polygon have a geometry and attribute update date so I can query on the polygons updated?
- Is the provider actively updating its data and creating related products such as lot, tracts, and quarter-quarters to complement the base data?
- Does my license agreement allow me to maintain archival copies of the data if I need to cancel my subscription agreement?
- What other relationships does the data vendor have with other key data suppliers? Well data suppliers? Will the well data fit on this land grid?
- Does the vendor have a good reputation for fixing problems promptly in their data?
- Is the vendor well established in the marketplace?
Whatever the answers, we’re here to assist in an effective transition to better data!