Why Your Tax Office Needs Geo-tagged Photos


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then geo-tagged images are worth a lot more.

Most assessing officers use some sort of image capturing technology to shoot and store photos of the real property in their jurisdiction. However, few of those counties are using the additional convenience of geo-tagging their images.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the term “geo-tagging” refers to the process of adding geographical identification to a photo. Geographical identifiers include the latitude and longitude coordinates of where your photo was taken.

Geo-tagging can happen automatically on modern digital cameras or smartphones with built-in GPS by capturing GPS information at the time a photo is taken. Or, geo-tagging can involve a process of using an image capturing technology along with a standalone GPS and later attaching those images to coordinates using mapping software.

Many counties fear that geo-tagging technology is too complicated or too expensive to use with parcel maintenance, but neither is true. GPS chips are now built into most smartphones, so if you have ever taken a picture on one, then you have already conquered the first step of the geo-tagging process, at no extra cost to you!

Easy to Store, Save, & Find

Once a photo is geo-tagged, it’s as if you have given it a permanent address. Much like typing in an address on your GPS and following the directions it gives you, geo-tagged images have their own “address” to show the exact location of where they were taken.

The coordinates of geo-tagged images are embedded within the photo itself and never change.

If a geo-tagged image gets mislabeled or files get scrambled on your computer, you don’t have to worry about the confusion of whose property the picture belongs to. The photos themselves can tell you where they belong. Even if you change property tax systems, software vendors or switch CAMA systems, your photos and their coordinates remain intact.

Time Savers

With the right photo mapping software, ESRI can link to or integrate with your geo-tagged photos, granting easy access and retrieval of your images.

You can even archive pictures from years past and make comparisons, allowing for better record keeping.

Powerful Appeal-Fighting Tools

As your images are uploaded, geo-located, and combined with GIS software you get a more complete and accurate map for optimal appraisal results. Geo-tagged images are then a powerful resource for county officials to call on when it comes time for revaluation and the appeals process.

Geo-tagged images, time stamped and easy to locate, can eliminate construction debates and other issues you face with property tax assessment. Fewer debates lead to fewer appeals.

As you can see, geo-tagged images can be an inexpensive and powerful tool for your tax office and parcel maintenance. Read our blog, Geo-tagging Technology on a Shoestring Budget, to find out more.

*Special thank you to Mark McClintock, Real Property Supervisor for Rockingham County and Eric Funderburk, GIS Analyst of Guilford County for agreeing to be sources for this article.

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