Geographic Information Systems (GIS) FAQ
GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems. More than just a map, GIS is an organized collection of computer hardware, software, geographic data, and personnel designed to efficiently capture, store, update, analyze, and display all forms of geographically referenced information. GIS allows us to ask and answer questions from a spatial perspective, which supports better decision making and creates efficiencies in workflows. GIS data supports everything from property tax appraisals to emergency 911 response efforts to elections administration. We help streamline record keeping and facilitate communication among departments and with the public. If you’d like to learn more about GIS in general, one good resource is http://www.esri.com/what-is-gis.
If you want a map of your property, your best bet is to start with the interactive Property Viewer. This online map allows you to search for your property, zoom in and out to see it and its surroundings, and more. It even has a print tool that allows you to create your own maps.
Start by browsing our Map Gallery. If you don’t find what you need, give us a call at (785) 838-2422 to discuss options. Many times, we have already created something that may fit your needs. Depending upon the request, there may be a charge for staff time and materials.
Legal property dimensions are recorded on a number of legal documents, such as plats, deeds, and certificates of survey. When accurate measurements matter, visit the Register of Deeds office to retrieve the relevant documents for your property.
The measure tool is a great way to approximate distances. Ultimately, however, the map is a representation of property boundaries that cannot provide the level of precision that is available on a legal document.
Before installing a fence on your property, you should know your property’s boundaries as well as any easements that are reserved for specific uses like storm water drainage or public utilities. You can get an idea of where your boundaries are by looking at our interactive Property Viewer, but our map is a representation that shows taxing boundaries rather than actual ownership limits. We do not show easements (except roads) or any zoning boundaries. Zoning regulations and local homeowner association requirements are other items to be aware of that are not available through the map. Do-it-yourselfers can look up easements through the Register of Deeds office, and then contact their local zoning department and homeowner’s association for further details.
Yes and no. We map easements related to roads, but no private or utility easements. If you are looking for easements in a particular area, you should check with the Register of Deeds office to find documentation in that location.
In 2015, our staff completed a four-year in-depth review of every parcel boundary in the county. As a result of our efforts, we have one of the most accurate tax parcel representations in the entire state. That being said, there are areas throughout the county that are challenging to represent, particularly in the oldest sections of towns where modern survey-grade documentation is limited.
Please contact us if you have a question about why a line is in a particular location. We can review it with you and address any concerns that may arise.
Try clearing your browser cache to ensure that you are viewing the most current version of the map. The easiest way to do this is to open your browser and press Ctrl + Shift + Del on your keyboard. This will open a window with several options for clearing stored settings. In Internet Explorer, you’ll want to check the box for Temporary Internet files and website files. In Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, you’ll want to check the box for Cache. We recommend against using the defaults in the pop-up window, as your browsing history, stored passwords, and cookies will be deleted along with the Temporary Internet Files or Cache. Once you clear your cache, refresh the Property Viewer page (F5 on your keyboard) and you should see the map. If not, please give us a call at (785) 838-2422. If you’d like to learn more about browser caches, we recommend this site: http://refreshyourcache.com/en/cache.
No. The boundaries on our viewer show taxable land from the perspective of the County Appraiser’s office. If you are trying to resolve an issue that involves the exact placement of a property line, we recommend hiring a professional surveyor to determine where your boundaries are. For more information on professional land surveyors, the Kansas Society of Land Surveyors can be a good resource.
Land is constantly being reconfigured, so updates happen every day in Douglas County. We update the map on a daily basis so that changes are available in a timely fashion. Keep in mind that each request to change a property line is unique and may have to be reviewed in multiple departments before it can be reflected on the map. In other words, a request to change something on Monday does not mean that it will show up on the map on Tuesday.
The search tool provides several different ways to search for a location. You can enter a PIN, Public Land Survey section, or even a place name such as South Park or Lawrence Municipal Airport. As you type in a search term, the auto-complete function will suggest possible matches for you.
Our most current high-resolution imagery, which is displayed on the Property Viewer, was taken in Spring 2020.
The layers in that group have been provided by outside agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Please keep in mind that they may not be a perfect match to the data that we maintain, since they are created by other people who are meeting other agency’s requirements. We provide them as a general reference, but they should not be considered equivalent to a legal survey.