Join the ongoing discussion with Open Austin on Slack: http://slack.open-austin.org/
Liberate Appraisal Data is an effort to open up the Travis County Appraisal District (TCAD) appraisal roll data. The annual appraisal roll consists of valuations of every parcel in the county, and includes details about the age and square footage of property improvements, the size and value of lots, jurisdictional taxing authorities, and much more.
We are asking TCAD to make the data available in an open, usable format. Key issues with the current data delivery process are as follows:
To obtain the appraisal roll data citizens must pay $80 per appraisal year. Electronic records are available dating back to 2007.
The data are delivered to citizens in an MS database. This is an arcane, proprietary format that requires special software to view.
TCAD's own documentation explicitly states that some of the data are not available at all (even with purchase), due to the limitations of the MS Access format.
Other entities (including the City of Austin) have managed to obtain copies of the data in a format other than MS Access, yet the TCAD records office insists that the data are exclusively available in the MS Access format.
Neighboring appraisal districts have managed to provide this data for free, in an open format. For example, WCAD: http://www.wcad.org/public-data/downloads?id=343
We (Open Austin) have proposed a few solutions:
Publish the appraisal roll data on our own website for the public to download.
TCAD could partner with the City of Austin to have the data published on the city’s open data portal. I am a City of Austin employee and would be happy to connect TCAD staff with the City’s Open Data Team.
We communicated these issues to TCAD Board of Directors chairperson Dick Lavine and the Chief Appraiser's executive assistant on April 10, 2017. Although Dick Lavine has expressed an interest in working with us, we have so far been unable to set up a follow-up meeting or get any response from the Chief Appraiser.
The obvious next step is to attend a TCAD board meeting, but unfortunately these take place monthly on a weekday in an inaccessible part of town. Another approach would be to raise money to buy all the data, reformat it, and host it.