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New Tyler Product Meant to Speed Property Value Analysis

By bringing together property data from various systems — and other jurisdictions — Tyler thinks it can quicken mass evaluations. Among other things, that could help show unfair burden placed on some neighborhoods.

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Ahead of an annual industry conference, gov tech giant Tyler Technologies has unveiled a new out-of-the-box product to help crunch and visualize data for tax assessors.

The product, called Assessment Connect, is built on the Socrata platform that Tyler acquired in 2018. As the name implies, much of its intended value comes from the ability to draw data together from various systems and bring them into one place.

For property assessors, who usually work at the county level, that could mean a newfound ability to compare neighborhood values, find anomalies and run reports that might have otherwise been the products of phone calls and painstaking work. Property valuations and other data would come from products like Tyler’s computer-assisted mass appraisal software — though it can hook up to non-Tyler products as well — and allow for analysis and visualization.

Mark Hawkins, president of Tyler’s appraisal and tax division, said it might take allow officials to complete work in minutes that might otherwise take weeks.

“What our goal is, with Assessment Connect, is to bring that data to the forefront [and] put it in views that make sense for those in the assessment world, for the chief appraiser, for a commercial appraiser, for different roles within that office, so they have the data at their fingertips to make decisions, to react to things that they see as they’re finalizing values,” Hawkins said. “So if they see, for example, that sales ratios are off in a certain area, Assessment Connect will identify that and let them know if it goes beyond a certain ratio … and it’ll also give them all the data in real time in a place where they can analyze it quickly.”

That could be helpful for the core work of assessors, but it could potentially put in place tools to make plain the kind of racial bias recent media coverage has documented in counties across the country. In many areas, analyses have found consistently higher tax burdens for Black homeowners and those with lower property values — one of many ways the real estate market has been subtly manipulated to the disadvantage of Black people.

More ready access to data could possibly help highlight when that’s happening, Hawkins said, but it could help in a related way: cutting down on appeals.

“One thing that pulling this data together and allowing for easier access to that data should help [is] making sure that across the county or across the jurisdiction, that they do have fair and equitable assessments — that there’s not neighborhoods or regions or areas that are assessed higher than others where they shouldn’t be,” he said.

Assessment Connect also features a networking feature that opens up access to data between jurisdictions, a feature Hawkins said could be especially helpful in areas like the metro Atlanta region, spread across many counties. In many cases, a county could benefit from accessing data for properties just across their borders.

“We have a lot of clients that share borders — for example, Fulton County. Fulton County, Cobb County, a lot of those surrounding counties are all Tyler customers. So even today, Cobb may call up Fulton and ask about information, or may try to pull it off their public access side or things like that,” he said. “These are things that our customers need to do today, but it’s very slow, it’s very manual, it takes a lot of time.”

Tyler’s corporate history has typically relied on the acquisition of other companies to bring new products into its portfolio, but the development of Assessment Connect represents a swivel toward in-house development. Because Socrata is a platform on top of which applications can be built, Hawkins said the creation of the product was easier than it would have been to start from scratch.

He said the company “absolutely” plans on similar work in other areas of government work in the future.

“We’re looking at similar-type solutions for public safety, for courts and justice, for our [enterprise resource planning] products that would also fit the same kind of roles where we’ve taken this platform and we’ve built upon it,” Hawkins said.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.
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