Top 5 CAMA Software Improvements for Property Tax Assessors

We hear it over and over from assessors, in professional forums, casual conversations, and with survey responses: There are specific CAMA software improvements that could significantly improve efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity. That could, simply put, help assessors and their organizations do their jobs better.

What are the improvements that we hear about most frequently? Here are the top 5.

Improvement #1: Mobile Data Collection

Survey responses tell us that mobile data collection ranks #1 on assessor wish lists of CAMA software improvements. This makes sense when you consider that CAMA systems are designed for office workflows, while appraisers do much of their job in the field. This mismatch can result in two major problems:

  • Appraisers may find themselves in the field without key functionality, like GPS-enabled workday routing, touchscreen sketching and data entry, and photo management.

  • Appraisers may find themselves without automated mobile-CAMA integration, resulting in the time- and labor-intensive effort of data re-entry upon return to the office from the field.

It's clear that having a mobile solution is crucial. And for organizations that already have one, providing a better user interface, additional functionality, and integration with their CAMA system would go a long way toward enabling assessors' organizations to work more quickly, easily, and effectively.

Improvement #2: Statistical Analysis

Most CAMA software includes some basic statistical analysis functionality, like property mean, median, and mode values for specific market areas. Some includes price-related differential (PRD) and coefficient of dispersion (COD), which measure, respectively, the relative progressivity or regressivity of assessments and the degree of uniformity across assessments. And ideally, CAMA software also allows assessors to analyze data not only for individual neighborhoods and markets, but also for entire property classes and specific subsets of property classes.

However, more advanced capabilities such as multiple regression analysis (MRA) and artificial intelligence (AI), which make complex relationships in large quantities of data more transparent and actionable, may require add-on products. Assessors tell us that access to such products — which can be integrated with existing CAMA systems — would give them more sophisticated statistical tools and information.

Assessors consistently proclaim the virtues of improved statistical analysis, specifically in regard to the new perspectives and insights such analysis provides with respect to valuation fairness and equity. They also aspire to access the potential that better data analytics holds for more accuracy in their work, particularly in conducting reappraisals.

Improvement #3: GIS and CAMA Integration

Property tax organizations typically have both GIS and CAMA systems, but those systems aren't always fully integrated — much to the chagrin of assessors, who place the integration of these systems third on their list of desired improvements.

There are multiple benefits to integrating these systems, which we described in a recent blog. In a nutshell, integration provides data visualization for appraisers and ensures data consistency and accuracy across property tax organizations. It also enables real-time data sharing between the two systems, which eliminates redundant tasks, saves time and resources, and provides current information that appraisers need to value properties and mappers need to update the maps and data that feed into those valuations. The result? Increased operational effectiveness across the board.

Improvement #4: CAMA System Flexibility

A bit more generally, we often hear from assessors that they'd like more flexibility in their CAMA systems and that they want their CAMA systems to be more tailored to their organization's particular needs. If only this were a problem that could be solved simply by integrating a new add-on with your existing CAMA system!

Largely a result of divergent business philosophies, where some CAMA vendors put out products and expect you to adapt to them while others offer products that are inherently customizable, this is a more intractable issue — one that can't easily be addressed in a blog. However, it's certainly worth thinking about, talking about, and considering the next time you're in the market for a new CAMA system.

Improvement #5: Building Sketching

Assessors take issue with building sketching for many of the same reasons as they do with mobile data collection. That is, assessors either have less robust sketching functionality than they desire, or the functionality they do have isn't integrated with their CAMA system — or both. The benefits to having options like area size calculations, multi-story building sketching, and a touchscreen user interface, along with real-time CAMA system integration, are legion. It's no surprise that easier sketching, better sketching capabilities, and sketching integration make the top 5 list of assessor-desired improvements.

Assessors Know What They Want — Now What?

Assessors know what improvements will make a difference in their work, so what can be done?

First, talk to your CAMA vendor. Ask about their ability to provide solutions that fit your organization's needs. Find out whether they're willing to integrate with existing CAMA improvement products that can make your assessors — and by extension your entire organization — more productive and ultimately more effective.

As a second step, consider some of today's most popular industry-proven, integration-friendly products:

  • MobileAssessor for mobile data collection
  • Josh Myers Solutions for MRA
  • SAS Viya for AI solutions
  • Arist for tailored CAMA solutions
  • Apex Sketch for integrated building sketching

Finally, if you're interested in learning more about the benefits and approaches to these and other CAMA software improvements, reach out to me here. We want to help your organization achieve its full potential.
Jeff McDonald
VP Local Gov Solutions

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