MAPPS' Marlow Tells Congress It's Time for Action on National Parcel System

Reston, VA, September 21, 2009 – Noting that studies have recommended a national parcel system for nearly 30 years Susan Marlow, President of Smart Data Strategies (Franklin, TN), chair of the MAPPS Cadastre Task Force, and a member of the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences panel that wrote the report National Land Parcel Data: A Vision for the Future told Congress September 17 it’s time for action, not more studies.

Appearing before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Financial Services, Ms. Marlow said Federal agencies should increase utilization of geospatial technologies to address transparency and accountability in the Federal government’s financial services activities, including the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). "In the United States, there are some 3200 counties and as a result, when it comes to parcel data, there are 3200 plus puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit together.  While millions of dollars are spent on the creation and maintenance of this data at the local level, the investments are not being realized at the Federal level due to a lack of coordination," Marlow said. The hearing, "Utilizing Technology to Improve TARP and Financial Oversight" focused on how technology can be used to ensure Federal agencies provide strong, coordinated oversight of financial services activity. Nine members of Congress attended the hearing including Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Moore (D-KS), Subcommittee Ranking Member Judy Biggert (R-IL), Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), John Adler (D-NJ), Ron Klein (D-FL), Christopher Lee (R-NY), and Erik Paulsen (R-MN).

"It is imperative that we utilize available technologies, such as parcel-based geospatial data and systems, to monitor and protect something so vital to our country’s well being," Marlow told the Congressional panel. "When one looks at the agenda for this Congress, from mortgages to climate change, from health care to a smart energy grid, it cannot be effectively implemented today because of the Federal government’s failure to properly utilize geospatial data."

"Parcel data can provide an early warning system to changes in the market, as we saw in recent years with mortgage foreclosures," the MAPPS witness said. 

During questioning, Chairman Moore not only pointed to the MAPPS recommendations concerning three bills (H.R. 932, H.R. 1242, and H.R. 1520) before Congress, but he also highlighted the MAPPS recommendation to amend the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) to require data collection at the parcel level.

Marlow reminded Congress that the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), called for by President Clinton in an Executive Order and later reaffirmed by President Bush, established seven framework layers of geospatial data for Federal investment – including a parcel layer. "Sadly, fifteen years later, little progress has been made in creating the NSDI," she commented. 

"While FedEx can track the location of millions of packages per day moving around the world, the Federal government does not track the location of land, and it is stationary," Marlow said. "The technology exists, a robust, qualified and competent private sector is in place, and the solutions are waiting to be implemented. What is lacking is demand-driven leadership from the Federal government."

Click HERE to access the MAPPS Testimony.

Click HERE to access the Subcommittee Website and Archived Webcast.

Formed in 1982, MAPPS is the only national association exclusively comprised of private firms in the remote sensing, spatial data and geographic information systems field in the United States. Current MAPPS memberships span the entire spectrum of the geospatial community, including Member Firms engaged in satellite and airborne remote sensing, surveying, photogrammetry, aerial photography, LIDAR, hydrography, bathymetry, charting, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS, and GIS data collection and conversion services. MAPPS also includes Associate Member Firms, which are companies that provide hardware, software, products and services to the geospatial profession in the United States and other firms from around the world. MAPPS provides its 160+ member firms opportunities for networking and developing business-to-business relationships, information sharing, education, public policy advocacy, market growth, and professional development and image enhancement. For more information on MAPPS, please visit