Davis County, Utah, Agrees to Share GIS Data With Mormon Church

GIS data from the Mormon Church will help the county shelter evacuees during disasters, receive disaster declarations and apply for public assistance.

by / October 1, 2010 0

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has agreed to provide Davis County, Utah, with information on the properties the church owns in the county. That information will then be stored in the county’s GIS database and help with sheltering evacuees during disasters, receiving disaster declarations and applying for public assistance.

“We don’t have appraised values on a lot of the nontaxable exempt parcels — government parcels, church properties, things like that,” said Mark Langston, Davis County information systems director. “So we’re starting to collect that information.”

The church owns more than 300 parcels in the 304-square-mile county, including silos, farms and meeting houses, Langston said. “What we’re trying to do is just make sure we have all that covered and those are available and we have them mapped, so whenever our emergency teams start to pull up that kind of stuff, it’s there so they can see it,” he said.

The church agreed to provide the county the shape files for its parcels. The data will help county officials get in touch with operators at church-owned facilities that may be used as shelters during emergencies.

Langston said most of the people evacuated from the vicinity of a recent fire that burned three homes south of Salt Lake City were sheltered in LDS facilities.

He expects that having the parcel data will also help improve the accuracy of loss estimates and how quickly the county receives disaster assistance. “If we know they’re there, then our assessors can start to put values on that stuff, so we start to have a more true picture of what recovery costs are going to be,” Langston said.

He said the LDS has probably already conducted appraisals of its property, but the county hasn’t reached an agreement to share that information yet. “We’ve been doing this all along, but it’s been very difficult to get the information from not just them, but from a lot of different people,” he said. Other municipalities and large corporations are among those that are sometimes difficult to coordinate information sharing with.

An LDS spokesman declined to comment on the project and data-sharing agreement, deferring to the county.

Read More in Emergency Management magazine.