Lowell Deeds

The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell

March 15, 2007

A Philosophical Clash

by @ 8:32 pm. Filed under Registry Ops, Technology

Earlier this week I attended a meeting of the steering committee of the Massachusetts Spatial Infrastructure Planning Project. This group seeks to integrate data from a variety of sources - municipal assessors, state agencies, the federal government, for example - and provide that information as “data layers” in a map environment or as data linked to such maps. Since all of this involves land, the registries of deeds of the state have the opportunity to play a major role and to make a huge contribution. Registry records conclusively reflect ownership of land and rights and encumbrances on that land. Combining all this information represents an example of government using “collective intelligence” to provide better services to our citizens and to make the Commonwealth a friendlier place to do business. But this vision requires, or at least presumes, that information held by registries will be freely shared with governmental partners and with end users. The current model in at least half of the state’s registries, however, is to impose a charge for access - either to the database or to print copies. Even in the registries that currently do not impose similar charges, there is some sentiment to begin charging to create a revenue stream. (It’s quite the opposite at this registry - we already charge the hightest fees in the country to record documents on once recorded, they should be freely available to everyone, just like books at the public library - but that’s just how I think). If the future of Massachusetts is a “knowledge based economy” then making information harder to get by charging for access to it would be a step backwards. After all, we are living in the Information Age.

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