SCO Publications

Statewide Parcel Data

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Details on accessing Wisconsin's statewide parcel data, via ftp, web application, or REST service. (Published January, 2017)

statewide parcel data jan 2017.pdf (846 KB)

Parcelization in rural agricultural and forested landscapes in Wisconsin, 1972–2007


This study, published in the Journal of Land Use Science, examines the social, economic, geographic/biophysical, and regulatory factors underlying parcelization -- the subdivision of large landholdings -- in rural Wiscosnin over a period of 35 years. Results paint a unique picture of the complex interplay of historic and contemporary parcelization drivers. Simple factors robustly explain parcelization in the earliest period examined, but in later time periods model fitness decreases, suggesting that the drivers of contemporary parcelization are more complex than in previous decades.

If your institution does not provide access to this journal, contact either This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a free eprint link.

State Cartographer's Office Annual Report - Fiscal Year 2016 (July 2015-June 2016)

sco annual_report_2015-2016

Summary of the activities of the State Cartographer's Office from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 (Fiscal Year 2016). (Published Sept 2016)

pdfsco_annual_report_2015-2016_final.pdf5.17 MB

Wisconsin Historic Landscape Project 2015 Community Forum Report

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Report on a series of public forums held in 2015 to gather information on user needs for the Wisconsin Historic Landscape Database. This database was derived from the 1832-1866 General Land Office survey of Wisconsin documenting information about soils, vegetation, cultural features, and wetlands. Funding for the forums was provided by the Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment at UW-Madison. (Published August 2016)

wisconsin historic landscape project 2015 community forum report final.pdf 2.5 MB

Final Report, 2016 Surveying-Parcel Forum

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Report on a public forum entitled, "Parcel Mapping and the Public Land Survey in Wisconsin," hosted by the Wisconsin State Cartographer’s Office on March 15, 2016, at UW Eau Claire. (Published April 2016)


Mapping European Settlement in Wisconsin


This study of washington Island was presented by Will Craig at the WLIA (Wisconsin Land Information Association) Fall Regional Conference in Oshkosh in October, 2015. The study focuses on the processes used to collect and map the dates of initial land transfers on Washington Island, Wisconsin. It starts by describing the PLSS (Public Land Survey System) and then documents the various ways that land was transferred from the public domain on Washington Island. The study documents the sources of data on land patents and describes the methodology used to transfer information into map form using GIS (Geographic Information Systems).

Mapping Initial European Settlement in Wisconsin.pdf (2MB)

State Cartographer's Office Annual Report - Fiscal Year 2015 (July 2014-June 2015)

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Summary of the activities of the State Cartographer's Office from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 (Fiscal Year 2015). (Published Aug 2015)

pdfsco_annual_report_2014-2015_final.pdf4.9 MB

Using Maps in Web Analytics to Evaluate the Impact of Web Based Extension Programs


This article, published in the Journal of Extension, shows how maps can be used in a Web analytics context to help assess the impact of outreach and Extension programs. The article shows how maps can be generated from Web analytics data using free GIS software. The website of the State Cartographer's Office is used as a case study. The full article can be found in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of Extension (Vol. 53, No. 3, Article # 3IAW2).

Interested in doing this yourself for your own website? This document shows you how create a Google Analytics report with latitude-longitude values.

V1 Interim Report and Digital Appendices


Interim report of the V1 Statewide Parcel Map Database Project (V1 Project). The V1 Project is a collaboration between the State Cartographer’s Office, the Wisconsin Land Information Program (WLIP), and local governments. This report describes the V1 Project, part of the Statewide Parcel Map Initiative established by Act 20 of 2013. This report describes the processes to establish a statewide parcel GIS map layer by integrating county-level datasets, makes recommendations on a searchable format for parcel attributes for Version 2 and beyond, and makes recommendations on WLIP Strategic Initiative grants for parcel mapping activities in the form of “benchmarks” for parcel dataset development. (Published June 2015).




Interim Report and Digital Appendices:

pdfV1 Interim Report

pdfAppendix J: V2 Parcel Domain List

pdfAppendix K: V2 Zoning Domain List

pdfAppendix L: V2 Submission Form

pdfAppendix M: V2 GIS Templates

pdfAppendix N: County Observation Data

gdbV1 Statewide Parcel Layer (File Geodatabase)

gdbTools for Achieving Submission Formats (SCO Tools Page)

home V2 Data Submission Homepage



Final Report, 2015 Surveying-Parcel Forum

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Report on a public forum entitled, "Aligning County Surveying and Parcel Mapping Efforts in Wisconsin," hosted by the Wisconsin State Cartographer’s Office on March 12, 2015, at UW-Stevens Point. (Published May 2015)


Statewide Parcel Project

Statewide Parcel Project

Announcement of a new collaborative project with the Wisconsin Department of Administration to create Wisconsin's first statewide digital parcel map to be made publically available. (Published April 2014; Revised January 2015)


Final Report, LinkWISCONSIN Address Point and Parcel Mapping Project

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Final report of the LinkWISCONSIN Address Point and Parcel Mapping Project. This project was funded by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin with an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant awarded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The report describes the processes used to integrate address point and parcel data from Wisconsin's counties and municipalities to create statewide layers. (Published Sept. 2014)

pdfAPPMP_Report_Web_September2014.pdf8.36 MB

pdfAPPMP_Report_Digital_Appendix.pdf98.43 KB

LinkWISCONSIN Address Point and Parcel Project

About the SCO

Summary of a project through the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to add address and parcel GIS layers to Wisconsin’s statewide broadband map. (Originally published July 2013, updated January 2015)


2014 WLIP Report


The 2014 WLIP Report was published jointly by the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the State Cartographer's Office. The report discusses how WLIP funding was invested in county geospatial infrastructure in 2013, and gives the results of the 2014 WLIP survey focusing on county priorities for parcel map development. (Published Sept. 2014)

pdf2014_WLIP_Report_09.24.14.pdf4.37 MB

State Cartographer's Office Annual Report - Fiscal Year 2014 (2013-2014)

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Summary of the activities of the State Cartographer's Office from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 (Fiscal Year 2014). (Published Sept. 2014)


Statewide Land Cover Project

Statewide Land Cover Project

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are partnering on a project to map the current land cover of Wisconsin. This publication describes the key aspects of the project. (Updated Jan 2016)

pdfSCO_statewide_land_cover_project_Jan2016.pdf 2.25 MB


UW opengeoportal

GeoData@Wisconsin an online geoportal designed to provide discovery and download capability for local Wisconsin geospatial data to be used for educational purposes. The geoportal is developed and maintained by UW-Madison Geography Department's Robinson Map Library and State Cartographer's Office. (Published January 2015)


Key Characteristics of a Proposed Wisconsin Aerial Imagery Program

Key Characteristics of a Proposed Wisconsin Aerial Imagery Program

This document summarizes the key components of a Wisconsin aerial imagery program proposed in a discussion paper published by the State Cartographer’s Office. This includes recommendations for contracting, technical standards, funding, and other logistics. (Published June 2014)

pdfSCO_Key_Characteristics_of_a_Wisconsin_Aerial_Imagery_Program-June-2014.pdf664.71 KB

Wisconsin Orthophotography


This Infosheet summarizes the status of orthophoto projects in Wisconsin, and describes current and future trends that affect imagery users in the state.  (Published January 2016)

pdfSCO_Wisconsin_Orthophotography_Jan_2016.pdf 718 Kb

About the State Cartographer's Office

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The State Cartographer’s Office (SCO) is Wisconsin’s resource for information about maps, cartography, geographic information systems, land information systems, and geospatial technology. This publication provides details on our responsibilities, vision and mission, strategic priorties, and who we are. (Revised Jan. 2016)

pdfabout SCO jan 2016.pdf 1.9 MB

Understanding Elevation


Primarily targeted at geospatial professionals who want want a better understanding of elevation terminology, this Infosheet describes the differences between ellipsoid heights and elevations (orthometric heights), and the implications of the National Geodetic Survey's GRAV-D project. (Published January 2012)

pdfSCO_Understanding_Elevation_2012.pdf2.02 MB

Using geospatial PDFs


This paper provides an overview of geospatial PDFs and their basic features, as well as some of the tools available to interact with these files. Information is also provided on more complex software tools designed to manipulate and create geospatial PDFs, as well as several mobile apps. This paper focuses on USGS US Topos as a case study, since these maps are widely used. (Published May 2014)

pdfSCO_using_geospatial_pdfs_v1.0.pdf2.81 MB

Using Web Analytics to Evaluate Online Maps


This article, published in the Journal of Web Librarianship, uses Web analytics to evaluate the effectiveness of online maps to support community outreach efforts. The specific focus is the WHAIFinder (Wisconsin Historic Aerial Image Finder), which provides online access to a rare collection of aerial photographs from the 1930s. The article is available from the Journal of Web Librarianship website for those with an institutional subscription to the journal. A limited number of copies are This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

2013 WLIP Report

2013 GISWLIP Report

This report -- jointly published by the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the State Cartographer's Office -- discusses how Wisconsin Land Information Program (WLIP) funding is invested in county geospatial infrastructure, the 2013 county survey results, and the challenges and opportunities for the aggregation of county map data into statewide GIS layers. (Originally published Nov. 2013)

pdf2013_WLIP_Report_11.25.13.pdf3.3 MB


About Control Finder

Our office has been the key point of contact for federal (USGS and NGS) control for over 30 years. In our continuing effort to make this information more accessible as a central point of access, we developed ControlFinder. Our newest version of Control Finder is built
on a robust open-source software stack enabling better usability, integration of Google Maps API basemaps and a more standardized approach to application construction. (Revised January 2015)

pdfcontrolfinder_jan_2015.pdf747 KB



Our office has been involved in cataloging and reporting section corner remonumentation status since 1975 through various publications. In our continuing effort to make thisinformation more accessible as a central point of access, we developed PLSSFinder as a free, Internet-accessible catalog designed to help users locate current information about PLSS corners in Wisconsin. PLSS corner information accessible through this application comes directly from county contributors. Corner attribute information is retrievable from this application, while other attribute information is available via direct links to information maintained by the county on their Web site. (Revised January 2015)

pdfPLSSFinder_Jan_2015.pdf650 KB

Wisconsin Coordinate Reference Systems, Second Edition


This handbook is a technical guide and resource for those who work with geospatial information in Wisconsin. It provides a brief overview of the history, evolution, and basics of Wisconsin’s coordinate reference systems, and compiles in one place the technical specifications for systems most commonly used in the state. (Originally published April 2009, minor revisions January 2012)

pdfWisCoordRefSys_June2015.pdf4.59 MB

UW-Madison "Then and Now" Poster

UW-Madison Then and Now

This 30" x 20" poster, produced by the SCO, uses historic aerial photography to show how the UW–Madison campus has changed over time. The poster blends a modern color photograph from July 2, 2010, with a black-and-white photograph from July 6, 1937.  The poster is available for $10, rolled in a tube and ready for framing, from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey (WGNHS) -- in person (3817 Mineral Point Road, Madison), or by phone (608-263-7389). (Published December 2012)

Analysis of Web-Usage Statistics to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Online Maps for Community Outreach


This study employs Web-usage statistics to assess the effectiveness of the WHAIFinder (Wisconsin Historic Aerial Image Finder) application for meeting community outreach goals. (Published August 2012)

pdfSCO_autocarto2012_paper.pdf430 KB

Pronounce Wisconsin

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Pronounce Wisconsin is an online application that delivers audio pronunciations for over 1700 Wisconsin places – including counties, cities, villages, and unincorporated communities – through an easy-to-use map interface. (Published January 2014)

pdfPronounce_Wisconsin_2014.pdf1517 KB

Wisconsin Historic Aerial Imagery Finder


The “WHAIFinder” digital archive of historic aerial imagery provides quick and easy access to over 38,000 digital aerial photographs covering the entire state of Wisconsin. (Published January 2014)

pdfWHAIFinder_2014.pdf1935 KB

An Open Source Web Application for Historic Air Photo Display and Distribution in Wisconsin


This paper describes an effort to build a digital archive and web-based retrieval system for historic air photos for the state of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has an extensive collection of historic air photos, including a rare 1937-1941 collection that covers almost the entire state. (Published February 2011)

pdfSCO_baldwin_autocarto2010_paper.pdf385.27 KB

Quick and Easy Web Maps with Google Fusion Tables


One of the quickest and easiest ways to produce simple maps for your Web site is to use Google’s Fusion Tables, an online data management application designed for collaboration, visualization and publishing of data. This SCO Technical Paper gives you a quick tutorial on the basic features of Fusion Tables for making simple Web maps.

Version 1.2, updated Feb. 2014, reflects changes to the graphical interface and software features, provides additional KML and Shapefile conversion methods, and gives a summary of Google Maps Engine Lite.

pdfSCO_quick_and_easy_web_maps_v1.2.pdf1.9 MB

Creating web and mobile maps using ArcGIS Online

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ArcGIS Online is web-based service from Esri that allows users to create, view, and edit custom maps using their own geographic data. This tutorial provides an introduction to the interface, step-by-step instructions for making and customizing a simple point map, creating editable layers, sharing your map, and accessing your maps with a smartphone. Additionally, a sample dataset is provided for those who wish to follow the tutorial verbatim. (Published February 2012)

pdfSCO_ArcGIS_Online_v1.0.pdf1.36 MB

Concepts and Methods for Rule-Based Web Cartography


One of the ways that interactive Web-based maps are different from traditional paper maps is that Web maps permit users to dynamically change map scale by interacting with a zoom tool. The ability to dynamically change map scale poses some challenges for cartographic design, since the mapping engine must be prepared to effectively render map data for different scale displays. This Technical Paper provides a quick overview of concepts and methods for Web-based cartography, with specific reference to issues of content selection and feature symbolization in the context of scale change. (Published August 2011)

pdfSCO_web_map_concepts_v1.0.pdf1.94 MB

State Cartographer's Office Annual Report - Fiscal Year 2013 (2012-2013)


This report summarizes activities and accomplishments of the State Cartographer's Office for July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 (Fiscal Year 2013). It includes an assessment of progress relative to our 2010-13 Strategic Plan. (Published Aug. 2013)

pdfSCO_annual_report_2012_13_final.pdf6.5 MB

State Cartographer's Office Annual Report - Fiscal Year 2012 (2011-2012)


This report summarizes activities and accomplishments of the State Cartographer's Office for July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 (Fiscal Year 2012). It includes an assessment of progress relative to our 2010-13 Strategic Plan, as well as a list of high-priority projects for 2012-13 identified in our annual business planning process. (Published July 2012)

pdfSCO_annual_report_2011_12_final.pdf2.21 MB

State Cartographer's Office Annual Report - Fiscal Year 2011 (2010-2011)


This report summarizes activities and accomplishments of the State Cartographer's Office for July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011 (Fiscal Year 2011). It includes an assessment of progress relative to our 2010-13 Strategic Plan, as well as a list of high-priority projects for 2011-12 identified in our annual business planning process. (Published August 2011)

pdfSCO_annual_report_2010_11_final.pdf3.51 MB

2009 Wisconsin GIS Inventory Report

2009 GIS Inventory report

This report provides a structured view of county-based GIS capacity in Wisconsin through an inventory of GIS data assets, technical capacity, and management practices. The report is based on self-reported statistics for 2008-2009 using the Wisconsin GIS Inventory tool with answers provided by representatives of Land Information Offices (LIOs) in each county. This is a joint publication of the SCO and the Division of Intergovernmental Relations of the Wisconsin Department of Administration. (Originally published May 2009)

pdfFINAL_County_GIS_Inv_Report_May2009.pdf5 MB

The WIREdata case and its implications for Wisconsin geospatial data


On June 25, 2008, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an opinion in WIREdata Inc. v. Village of Sussex (2008 WI 69), after nearly seven years of litigation between WIREdata, Inc. and the villages of Sussex and Thiensville, and the city of Port Washington. The litigation touches on Wisconsin state public records law and its application to electronic databases. This publication summarizes the WIREdata case, and highlights the potential impact of the decision on access to geospatial data maintained by government agencies. (Published January 2009)

pdfWIREdata_and_its_implications_for_WI_geospatial_data_2009.pdf877.48 KB