From left to right: John Yokley (PTFS CEO), Dan Aykroyd, Dan Quinn (PTFS VP)
Today we’d like to introduce you to Dan Quinn.
Dan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Property and land surveys are crucial resources for anyone who plans to purchase or develop property. Surveys, parcel maps, and subdivision maps can all be used to determine the boundaries of a piece of property, which can be critical should a land dispute arise.
Construction and engineering companies that use survey and land records daily understand the financial and legal advantages of obtaining a property survey and doing some historical research before buying land. But since neither of these is required by law, many homebuyers and title companies skip this essential step prior to closing on a property deal. One of the main reasons is because it is not easy to access previously recorded surveys and information about property.
But the County of San Diego is changing that. Working with PTFS (Progressive Technology Federal System), the Southern California county developed and deployed a new, web-based cloud solution to manage all its survey records and map documents—and make them easier for the general public to find.
The browser-based Survey Records System (SRS), which replaces an older, antiquated, and slower system, integrates Esri ArcGIS Desktop and PTFS’s Knowvation GS content management system (CMS). The app allows users to find land documents by searching geospatially, via full text, or by doing a combination of both. To search something geospatially, users draw a box or polygon around an area of interest on the map. For full-text search, users can have the SRS scour every word of every document—including the metadata—to find the specific surveys they are looking for. A combination of the two search functions allows users to really refine their parameters to quickly and easily track down the documents they need.
While the primary users of the SRS are members of the public who need to identify property lines, the system also contains topographic maps, flood plain maps, maps that detail subdivision road improvements, and many other map documents that can provide internal users at the County of San Diego with useful information about public and private property in the area.
The document side of the SRS is powered by PTFS’s geospatial CMS, Knowvation GS. As a browser-based, full-text search and retrieval system for digital libraries and repositories, Knowvation GS allows organizations to more easily manage digital data collections. And when paired with the mapping and layer capabilities of ArcGIS, it makes it easy to find the right surveys for the right parcels of land.
The public can openly search and view The County of San Diego’s land documents for free. But because the County of San Diego charges small fees for procuring property information (mainly to cover administrative costs), downloading watermark-free materials requires a few extra steps. For example, if a homebuyer’s lender requires a property survey, the prospective property owner would go to the county’s SRS, find the survey for the property under consideration, add it into the shopping cart, pay for the download via PayPal, and send it to the lender. This integrated process takes just minutes, and if the correct documents are in the SRS, there is no need for the homebuyer to obtain a new survey.
Since a Cloud hosted solution was a primary goal for The County of San Diego, Integrating Knowvation GS with ArcGIS was the most critical step in the development process. To make it possible for users to search the documents by location on the SRS’s basemap, surveyors for the County of San Diego use ArcGIS Desktop to link their documents to the county’s GIS. They employ georeferencing tools in ArcGIS Desktop to create shapefiles and GeoTIFFs that they then import into the document processing tools built by PTFS. This ties the survey records to map coordinates. From there, users can type in an address, a parcel number, or coordinates to search and retrieve documents in the app, using its intuitive graphical user interface (GUI).
In addition to creating such comprehensive search, discovery, and dissemination capabilities, PTFS helped the County of San Diego migrate its entire collection of land and survey records to a secure cloud environment. This makes the SRS more flexible, faster, and easier to use across all browsers.
“Many of our customers have commented about the helpfulness of these seemingly simple improvements over the previous system,” said Scott Redlin, one of San Diego County’s GIS Analysts on the project. “Since the Survey Records System went live, use of the SRS has so far been successful, with a number of users commenting on how they appreciated the higher speeds and the new Esri GUI features that were not available in the old system.”
Building on all the positive feedback, San Diego County expects to see expanded use of the app.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
For a project of this magnitude, there are always little bumps in the road. However, there were no significant challenges or obstacles to completing the solution.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about PTFS – what should we know?
Founded in 1995, PTFS is a small business that specializes in the development and implementation of enterprise data management systems and in physical media digitization and conversion services. PTFS is the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of Knowvation GS, a GeoCMS that is designed to provide a common interface for ingestion and indexing of data in a user friendly secure environment.
PTFS’ headquarters building is more than 36,000 square feet (See Figure 2.1-1), including a 6,000-square foot Digitization Bureau that houses a wide range of equipment to handle various media types and formats. PTFS holds a Top Secret (TS) facility clearance with a secure area approved for safeguarding TS/SCI material. Over 70% of PTFS Personnel hold security clearances and 52% hold a TS/SCI+. This allows us to have the proper clearances to provide support on the customer’s site or from PTFS headquarters with all the tools and associated methodologies in place for the full range of the software development life cycle.
With Knowvation GS and PTFS’ implementation and support services expertise, the Government will be able to deliver a secure, high performance and fail-safe EDW to its user base through the most modern methods with the opportunity to utilize the Amazon Cloud options.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The County of San Diego personnel, specifically Scott Redlin.
- Address: 11501 Huff Ct.
- Website: www.ptfs.com
- Phone: 3016548088
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org