GIS and IT working together result in multiple honors for the municipality of The Hague.

Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions announced the Municipal Tax Office of The Hague, Netherlands, has been recognized by the European Commission for providing citizens and businesses direct Internet access to property assessment information. Using Intergraph's GeoMedia technology, the city has implemented a GIS-based Web application so property owners can more easily determine if valuation data are correct and decide whether to challenge their tax assessments.

The Hague's tax assessment application, known as WOZ-Infodesk, is one of only 60 online services to receive the first "eEurope Award for Innovation in e-Government." The European Commission initiated this awards program in 2001 to promote information technology (IT) projects implemented by local governments to improve access to public services. Among the first public-access tax assessment GIS programs deployed in Europe, WOZ-Infodesk is the Municipal Tax Office's first experience implementing Web-based GIS technology for mapping. Until this project, digital mapping was the extent of automation in the office.

To implement this extensive project, the tax office contracted Novell for network infrastructure development and Oranjewoud, a consulting and engineering firm, for Web site development. They worked closely with Vicrea Solutions B.V., a spatial integrator and Team GeoMedia Registered Solutions Provider based in Amersfoort to build the online system using GeoMedia Professional and GeoMedia WebMap. Microsoft SQL Server was also deployed as the city's enterprise spatial database.

The municipality of The Hague has also received the "GIS Award 2001" from the Intergraph GeoSpatial Users Community (IGUC) - Netherlands Chapter during the national IGUC GeoForum event held in March. Vicrea Solutions and Oranjewoud were also recognized for their contribution to this innovative GIS solution using GeoMedia's open technology.

Bringing Tax Assessment Data Online
The Municipal Tax Office is responsible for assessing the value of, and collecting taxes for, every house, shop, apartment, and building in The Hague, a total of roughly 300,000 properties. The assessment process, which occurs every four years, has traditionally been an intensive, mostly manual process performed by a crew of 12 to 15 valuators.

GeoMedia's unique ability to handle multiple data files in their native formats provided a key advantage in the Municipal Tax Office's vendor selection process. This was a major consideration because it wanted WOZ-Infodesk to have access to all map data and property information regardless of where the files resided within the agency.

The new online GIS allows business owners and citizens of The Hague to log onto the password-protected Web site and view cadastral maps, photographs, floor plans, legal descriptions, and other property data considered during the evaluation process. The system even lets owners compare their properties and values with three other real estate objects that are similar. The universal appeal of WOZ-Infodesk is its dual functionality. It is the same system used by the official real estate brokers, or valuators, in the Municipal Tax Office to calculate property values. This means that owners and valuators work from identical information in reviewing and making assessments.

More importantly, the online service has greatly facilitated the valuators' jobs. They no longer must visit multiple offices or query several databases to gather the maps and information needed for a valuation. With all of the information available onscreen, the valuators complete assessments faster and more accurately than previously possible. By the end of 2002, The Hague expects to equip valuators with hand-held wireless computers so they can call up information about properties on site. This will eliminate the need to visit the office or even use the personal computer at home, giving them more time in the field.