GRM News – April 2013

Sharon Sayles Belten image
Megan Wierenga Aumentum, Newsletters April 29, 2013

FROM THE DESK OF BILL MCKINZIE

It is with mixed emotions that I write to you all this month, as this will be my last article for the Aumentum newsletter. I have made the decision to leave the company at the end of April in order to spend more time with my family. I have greatly enjoyed my time working with all of our customers and our 500+ employees, and I will miss you all.

Having said this, I am very pleased to introduce you to Tom Walsh, who will be taking over as the managing director for Aumentum. Tom has been with Thomson Reuters for 19 years, and has worked in the software industry his entire career. He has held positions in customer support, customer implementations, sales, and operations. I have had the privilege of working with Tom since Manatron was acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2011, and I can say that I hold Tom in very high regard and that he will be a great fit with all of you and our employees. Please join me in welcoming Tom to our team.

In closing, I want to thank all of you for your loyal and continued support. Through your continued experiences with Tom and the rest of the team, and as you will see below with the new staff additions, I believe you are all in a great place. Thomson Reuters is a great company with a long history of supporting its customers and growing business. That means nothing but a bright future for you, our loyal clients. Please feel free to reach out to any of your Thomson Reuters contacts if you have any questions or concerns.

Farewell, and I wish you all the best.

Regards,
Bill McKinzie

Aumentum USER GROUPS CONFERENCE REGISTRATION IS OPEN

Registration is now open for the 2013 Aumentum Users Group Conference being held at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, California, September 22 -26. Knowledge is Power is the theme of this year’s event, as power users across the country will gather to share and increase their knowledge of Aumentum software.

More information can be found on the conference website.
We look forward to seeing you in San Diego!

KANSAS COUNTY REALIZES LIFE-SAVING BENEFITS FROM GIS TECHNOLOGY FROM THOMSON REUTERS

Challenges

Scott County is a rural jurisdiction in western Kansas. After an incident involving a misrouted ambulance, the Scott County Commission determined that an evaluation of the deficiencies in the county’s spatial data set was needed. Thomson Reuters was commissioned to research, evaluate, and issue a report on their findings.

Process

A team of Thomson Reuters GIS specialists conducted in-depth, on-site interviews with departments identified by the Scott County Commission as stakeholders in geospatial technology. These included the Sheriff’s department, as well as the Departments of Public Works and EMS/Emergency Management. Beyond their evaluation and a list of their findings, the report submitted by Thomson Reuters contained recommendations to revamp the county’s geographic information system starting in areas of immediate need and where overlap of jurisdictional authority could allow resources to be pooled. This course of action, the report pointed out, would provide a faster return on investment, allowing stakeholders to begin reaping the benefits of GIS almost immediately.

Objectives & Results 

Chief among immediate areas of need was the task of correcting, maintaining, and deploying up-to-date addressing resources in the form of a properly modeled road centerline file. All stakeholder departments were in agreement that there was a county-wide need for this information. Thomson Reuters was commissioned to provide corrected centerline modeling and addressing. This was completed and has been successfully implemented by the Department of Public Works in a third-party road inventory database, which is presently in process of being integrated back into the 911 dispatch mapping system.

Next Steps

Using cadastral (parcel) data which Thomson Reuters maintains for the county, the next phase of this assignment is to implement high-value secondary projects using cloud collaboration tools like ArcGIS Online. This will allow the county to seamlessly integrate resources that have traditionally been “siloed.” For example, by being able to share and distribute spatial data in real time, the sheriff’s office and the departments of EMS/Emergency Management and Public Works will be able to collaborate on the development and implementation of a disaster response and incident management plan. Such a plan will include general instruction and coordination solutions for a common set of incidents. The plan will also make use of GIS and newly updated geodata to produce cartographic products (maps) to visually illustrate the action plans for common scenarios.

NEW FACES = ADDITIONAL KNOWLEDGE = MORE POWER!

We are pleased to introduce the following people who have recently joined our team. We continue to grow and are, as always, focused on providing our customers with best-in-class solutions backed by the top subject matter experts in the business.

Please join us in welcoming the newest members of Thomson Reuters:

Scott Hagenbarth
Software Engineer
Education: Kalamazoo Valley Community College (Computer Information Systems)
Last place of employment: FireKeepers Casino Hotel
Position held: Database Developer
Scott grew up in Portage, Michigan, but lived in south Florida from 2004-2008. His interests include playing guitar and piano in addition to writing his own music and creating electronic music.

Roberta Wolf
Sr. Software Engineer
Education:  BS in Computer Science from Franklin University, Columbus , Ohio
Last Place of Employment: Harris Computer Systems
Position Held : Sr. Software Developer
Roberta had worked for Thomson Reuters (when it was formerly Manatron) for eight years, and has returned after five years.

Sue Cunningham
Product Designer – Valuation
Education: University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, B.S. in Animal Science
Last place of employment :City of Virginia Beach, Virginia
Position held : Residential Appraisal Supervisor
Sue has over 15 years experience with the ProVal User Group and CAMA system, and is a Virginia Certified Residential Appraiser. Her hobbies include: volleyball, horseback riding, and keeping up with two tweenagers.

Wilson Balderrama
Programmer
Education: Systems Engineering
Last place of employment: Jalasoft
Position held: Web Software Developer
Wilson is interested in everything related with mobile and web technology, especially Javascript! He has two children with his wife, Marina: Keila (4 years old) and Santiago (6 months old).

Alejandro Maldonado
Programmer
Education: UCB (Universidad Catolica Boliviana), Systems Engineering
Last place of employment: Software Andina
Position held : Software Developer
Alejandro’s Interests Include: books, sports (especially football), and music.

Saulo Valdivia
Programmer
Education: UCB (Universidad Catolica Boliviana), Systems Engineering Degree
Last place of employment: Jalasoft
Position held: Developer
Saulo’s interests include books, music, and video games.

Christopher Buscaglia
Product Manager, Spatial and Cadastre
Education:New Mexico State University, Urban Planning, Geography
Last place of employment : Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri)
Position held : Lead Product Engineer/Program Manager (Land Records)
As a lead product engineer, Chris participated in all phases of agile software development, from envisioning to deployment. His responsibilities included working with industry experts and clients to develop an industry-standard best practice for streamlining cadastral workflows. His using Geographic Information Systems to understand complex land situations and patterns. Expertise: Urban and Regional Planning, GIS, Cadastral Records Management, Agile software development, Certified Product Owner & ScrumMaster.

Originally from Buffalo, New York, Chris moved to New Mexico to attend college and soon became an outdoorsman. In addition to hiking, he also enjoys spending as much time as he can on motorcycles, playing golf, building furniture, visiting architectural sites and painting. Chris and his wife Caitlyn enjoy raising their three young boys Max, Sam, and Enzo, spending as much time as possible outdoors.

Sean Lamberson
Sr. Software Engineer
Education: Rollins College, B.A. in Computer Science
Currently pursuing a M.S. in Computer Science at Nova Southeastern University
Last place of employment: Monroe County Property Appraiser, Key West, Florida
Position held: Programmer/Analyst Consultant (2009-2013) and Programmer/Analyst (2002-2008)

Gasant Jacobs
Head of Business Development
Education: BA, BBus Sc. (University of Cape Town, South Africa), MBA (GIBS, South Africa)
Last place of employment: Ernst & Young (Abu Dhabi Office)
Position held: Executive Manager

Miquel Mendoza
Business Development Manager
Education: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Bachelor´s Degree in Actuary
Last place of employment: His last place of employment was Huawei Technologies and previously was employed by Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Position held: Cloud Computing and Data Center Product Manager
Miquel has been an IT Professional for more than 32 years and his greatest achievement in life is his “kids” – a daughter who is 21 years old and a son who is 18.

Kim Payne
Education: Fordham University in Bronx, New York, Communications
Last place of employment: Truven Health (formerly the Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters)
Position held: Marketing Manager, Government
Kim is originally from New York City and is a Mini Cooper enthusiast who enjoys writing; she has even written a couple of screenplays. Kim is a newlywed who currently lives in Ann Arbor with her husband, Dan. Kim considers herself a foodie and loves crafting, scrapbooking, painting, and dabbles in graphic design.

THOMSON REUTERS TAX & ACCOUNTING, GOVERNMENT SEGMENT COMPLETES SSAE EXAMINATION

Thomson Reuters (Tax & Accounting, Government) Inc. is excited to announce its successful completion of an SSAE 16 examination, formally known as a Report on Controls at a Service Organization (SOC 1). “SSAE,” Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements, No. 16, Reporting on Controls at a Service Organization (AICPA, Professional Standards, AT sec. 801) is an attestation standard that establishes the requirements and guidance for reporting on controls at a service organization relevant to user entities’ internal control over financial reporting.

The controls addressed in SSAE No. 16 are those that a service organization implements to prevent, or detect and correct, errors or omissions in the information it provides to user entities. By engaging an independent CPA to examine and report on a service organization’s controls, service organizations can respond to meet the needs of their user entities and obtain an objective evaluation of the effectiveness of controls that address operations and compliance, as well as financial reporting at those user entities. The scope of Thomson Reuters (Tax & Accounting, Government), Inc.’s Type 2 SSAE 16 examination included the Government Revenue Management Hosting Services system.

Thomson Reuters is very proud of its completion of this examination and is committed to performing the examination in future years.

GIS/CAMA 17TH ANNUAL TECHNOLOGIES CONFERENCE A SUCCESS

Thomson Reuters recently participated in the 17th Annual GIS/CAMA Technologies Conference as the platinum sponsor. Held in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 4-7, the conference was a success with nearly 325 attendees gathering to educate themselves on the integration of GIS technology and CAMA valuation systems.

Thomson Reuters was proud to demonstrate our Aumentum Valuation product throughout our time there. Our product is the culmination of decades of valuation research, experience, and software design. Aumentum Real Property combines the best features of our five legacy valuation (CAMA) products along with the latest technology and advancements in GIS, sketching, and workflow. As a web based product, Aumentum Real Property is developed using the Aumentum iFramework. This proven framework not only provides users with remote access capability but it also ensures seamless integration with the entire Aumentum suite of products. This tight integration allows clients to inquire, capture data, report, and utilize workflow to track a parcel from creation through appraisal, assessment, and taxation within the same product suite.

Thank you to everyone who visited us at our booth during the event, and we hope to see you next year!

WORLD BANK LAND & POVERTY CONFERENCE A SUCCES

Thomson Reuters was proud to support the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty  held in Washington, D.C. April 8-11. The event brought together representatives from governments, civil society, academia, the private sector, and the development community to discuss issues of concern to land practitioners and policymakers worldwide. This year’s theme was Moving Towards Transparent Land Governance: Evidence-based Next Steps.

The Thomson Reuters team presented at the conference on new partnership models, the continuum of land rights, and a cadastre project in Cross River State, Nigeria. We also held a hands-on training workshop for our OpenTitle software product, a system in use in Liberia, Bolivia, and Angola to map, record, and document land and resource rights.

To follow our activities at the World Bank Conference on Land & Poverty, please check out the following:

TRTA Blog
@TRTA_Aumentum Twitter Feed
#landrights on Twitter

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Sharon Sayles-Belton, former two-term mayor of the city of Minneapolis, and currently Thomson Reuters vice president of community relations and government affairs, recently spoke with us on the subject of property values and taxes.

Q: During your two terms as mayor, Minneapolis experienced a considerable increase in property values. How did this rise in values and expanded property tax revenue come about?

Mayor Sayles-Belton: We were fortunate during my administration to have our tax base in the city of Minneapolis grow. However, that was part of our strategy, to look for opportunities to actually grow the tax base.


Q. Can you explain the strategy you developed?


Mayor Sayles-Belton: We did a considerable amount of work through our planning and zoning departments to determine how much land in the city of Minneapolis was underutilized, what the opportunities for development were going forward, and what our vision for redevelopment might look like. We also discussed with the public the opportunities we had to grow the city, expand the tax base, and hopefully improve city services.


Q. Why do you think the strategy worked?

Mayor Sayles-Belton: We were successful because it was the right vision and the correct approach to link property values to the information we had about underutilization of land in the city. However, just as important was the very deliberate manner in which we communicated with our constituents about being able to increase or improve city services without raising taxes. So when the tax payer looked at redevelopment projects, they found information that described the investment, the return on that investment, how much the tax base was going to grow and what we were going to be able to do with that new revenue.

Q. So did this strategy help assure citizens and community stakeholders their tax revenue was both fair and equitable?

Mayor Sayles-Belton: Yes, I believe the issue of fair and equitable is accurate. But there is much more. To say we had discussion with the community on that topic does not clearly portray what really took place.

Our communication strategy started at the grassroots level, while also being embraced as a vision by the city leaders. And why is that important? One of the things that the grassroots citizenry did was to talk at the community level about their vision for their neighborhoods and for their community—they talked about shortcomings and about development opportunities. They also talked about the benefit they would derive as a community—and they were able to bring those conversations to city hall. I mention that only because I think one of the reasons why most people believe that the process was fair and equitable was the fact it percolated up from the neighborhood groups.

The neighborhood groups talked about the investment opportunities and the priorities. We compiled that information from all parts of the city and used it to create a city-wide master plan. And as a whole, there was general agreement that specified the areas of the city where we were going to invest. It was, in my opinion, a piece of masterful planning, and it was collaborative and inclusive. And because of that, at the end of the day, most people believed it was fair.

Q. How did you decide where to invest?

Mayor Sayles-Belton: We looked first at areas of the city that had the most serious needs. Those areas received the highest investments. And stable areas were not ignored. They were reinforced with lesser investments that all were able to agree on as a community, but investments nonetheless that were still going to be of great benefit to the city as a whole. And then there were some key investments made in the city’s central business district such as those along our riverfront that were of benefit to everyone—I think that was important too.

Q. How did the city respond to citizens who said “my property tax rate just went up?

Mayor Sayles-Belton: In fact we experienced just that. Individuals who had been paying lower property taxes saw increases in their property values—and property taxes—as their neighborhood began to improve. And they came to city hall saying, “I know my property value went up, but so did my taxes, and I don’t have new income to pay for that.” It was really a source of a lot of frustration, particularly on the part of some of our older citizens who were retired.

Q. How were you able to handle those situations?

Mayor Sayles-Belton: Well one of the things we were able to point to was the fact that there was a higher level of service available in the community. There was more and easier access to goods and services than previously because of the strategic investments we had made. We also pointed out that there were increases in property tax, but only as a result of property value increases. And while, for a time, they would be somewhat limited in their ability to leverage that, there were other good things that happened in the community that improved the overall quality of life.

Q. So public interaction was essential in helping to communicate how the community was benefiting from the increase in property values?

Mayor Sayles-Belton: There was a concerted effort on our part to make sure everyone understood the correlation between first, the increase in property values; second, the expanded tax base; third, the increase in revenues collected by the city; and forth, the priorities on revenue spending. This was done so they could see that all four issues were interrelated. This effort was a constant and ongoing conversation with the citizens in our community so that they would have and understand all the facts.

Q. What venues did you use to disseminate this information?

Mayor Sayles-Belton: We used a number of vehicles. The city of Minneapolis during that time began to use more of the Internet, which was just evolving then. But we still needed to find vehicles to make sure that the information was available to the public, so we networked with the public libraries and with the nonprofit community in the city and with our neighborhood redevelopment organizations. Our city council members produced individual newsletters and communication documents that we then pushed out into the neighborhood. We wanted to make sure that everyone understood that they were deriving a benefit and that everyone’s community was going to improve. And while some people never stopped assigning fault, as a whole the community came to believe that this was a strategy that worked well for the city and for them.

Q. What was the most important lesson you learned in respect to this program?

Mayor Sayles-Belton:
One of the key elements that kept so many of our citizens informed of the strategy and objectives of our program were our partnerships with neighborhood organizations. It was a process that we tried to advance at every level because at its very core it recognized the importance of citizen engagement and citizen involvement. That is a lesson we learned in Minneapolis, and one which still applies to this day.