April’s App of the Month: Calgary’s myProperty

April 3, 2017 Jasmine Sohal

How do you find property information in your city? Do you need to take a trip to City Hall, fill up paper forms and wait in line for city staff to fulfill your request? Read this blog and discover how the City of Calgary efficiently provides property information through its online, self-serve app. 

Being the daughter of someone in the real estate business, I’ve picked up a thing or two about investing in properties. And one thing I’ve learned is to make sure to do your research thoroughly. If I happen to be interested in real estate in Calgary, Alberta, then the myProperty app is just the perfect tool to find out all the property information I need.

Developed by the City of Calgary, myProperty allows citizens, businesses and city staff to quickly find a tremendous amount of information about properties in the city, including:

  • land-use designations and redesignations, as well as links to relevant land-use bylaw documents
  • parcel dimensions
  • year of construction for buildings on a parcel
  • links to any planning policy documents that affect a property
  • historical bylaws that affect or may have affected a parcel in the past
  • links to information about the community where the property is located
  • building and development permits issued within the past three years
  • ward information

Accessing this content from the app is easy – just click on a parcel or search by address, development or building permit number, or search all properties by land-use type or designation. 

The City of Calgary is constantly exploring ways to efficiently deliver government services to citizens. With myProperty, citizens no longer need to apply for and request various types of property information in person at City Hall. They can go online and retrieve information on demand via the self-serve app. 

Several departments collaborated to develop the app. The data originates from various municipal business units. The City’s geospatial analysts and geospatial business specialists worked with those business units to find the best mechanisms that will enable the app to display the most current data.

Calgary benefits from a long-standing implementation of a cross-corporate enterprise geodatabase, which allows for a robust and central location where all geospatial data can be managed.

The City’s Planning and Development Business Unit was the primary stakeholder in myProperty’s success, and they provided significant input on the design of the app. The City developed MyProperty using the Information Lookup template available through ArcGIS Online. This is a configurable template that can be used to provide the public, internal staff and other interested parties with information about a location. 

Although the City planned to minimize any customization of the template, there was some customization done to meet end users’ needs. They consider the ArcGIS Blog, Esri Canada Blog, online training resources and the Esri GeoNet community as great resources to obtain clarification on issues that may arise while learning about ArcGIS Online.

“ArcGIS Online is an optimal way of presenting data so that it can be easily, conveniently and quickly consumed in an on-demand online environment,” said Kevin Milos, geospatial business specialist at the City of Calgary. “However, it’s important to recognize that success starts with data that is authoritative, current and trustworthy. This includes strong and stable storage mechanisms of the GIS data in field schemas that are optimized for deployment in a web-based environment.”

“In building a successful app such as myProperty, which uses data holdings of Calgary’s volume, it’s also important to recognize the collaboration among all the different individuals, specializations and roles,” he continued.

This app provides significant benefits to the City and its constituents. It increases transparency and allows citizens to see what building and development is occurring in their community, as well as what has occurred on their property. In addition, the self-serve app frees up the City’s frontline staff to complete other tasks.

myProperty was launched in April of 2016 and has received over 117,000 visits from citizens and staff, with an average of 10,000 visits per month. The app consistently ranks as either the most visited or second most visited map in the City of Calgary’s map gallery every month.

Since its launch, the app has undergone numerous significant improvements in data availability and the  user experience, including the addition of multiple search avenues. The City plans to further improve the app by adding assessment values and enhanced search capabilities.

myProperty is effective because it provides useful information in a geographical context. By delivering information through a map, citizens can visualize and understand the information better. It also provides richer context for the data (e.g., which properties are closest to my current house?).

But, don’t just take my word for it. Explore this app and let me know what you think by commenting below.

About the Author

Jasmine Sohal

Jasmine Sohal is a GIS Analyst for Esri Canada, holding an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from McMaster University and a post-graduate GIS Applications Specialist certificate from Sir Sandford Fleming College. As a kid, Jasmine refrained from going to new places until she drew a map of how she would get from Point A to Point B. After taking her first Introduction to GIS course at McMaster University, Jasmine knew right away where her passion lay. Now, as a self-proclaimed Geogeek, she is always inspired to visualize situations spatially and applies GIS anywhere she can. In her spare time, Jasmine is a discoverer; for good hiking trails and restaurants, that is. She is always going out to discover beautiful landscapes during her hiking adventures around the province. Off the trails, you can find her discovering new restaurants to dine at. With her open mind and willingness to adapt and learn, Jasmine is excited to see what her future in GIS holds for her.

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