This brief paper addresses the problem in microcosm as it occurs in the case of conservation lands data for the northeastern United States. Through an ongoing initiative with Applied Geographics in Boston, the New England Environmental Finance Center (NE/EFC) has worked to identify friction points and opportunities for increased efficiency in the conservation lands data capture and standardization process over the EPA Region 1 (New England) area. Like other thematic layers, conservation lands data are typically best captured as polygons which carry tabular attribution of varying complexity depending upon which state or organization collects and maintains them. By example, Massachusetts has collected information on more than 30,000 parcels and informed these polygons with a fully relational database that contains dozens of tables with nearly 100 active attribute fields. Maine is at the other extreme, and with four times the overall land area has barely one twentieth the number of cataloged conservation properties and a very restricted set of tabular data associated with them. Most of the properties that have fallen through the cracks in Maine belong to the municipal or land trust categories. These are prime candidates for distributed data capture, being broken into small jurisdictions where a large number of local experts have very clear knowledge of their own area but no easy means of passing this knowledge on to others working in a more regional, state or federal capacity.
Sutton, Richard, "Standardizing Geospatial Information for New England Conservation Lands" (2005). GIS Applications. 2.