Data Construction

The Montana State Library's Administrative Boundaries theme lead works with data providers throughout the state to develop statewide boundary sub-themes. Sub-themes can be managed separately or cooperatively between MSL and the direct data provider.

The majority sub-themes are managed cooperatively and vertically integrated with the Public Land Survey System (CadNSDI Montana) where appropriate. The data is often created by the local stewards and provided to MSL. For example, Lewis and Clark County GIS Department submits their respective school district updates to MSL, and Yellowstone County GIS Department submits their respective Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIFDs) updates to the Montana Department of Revenue who pass it on to MSL. MSL acts primarily as an integrator/coordinator/distributer of complete statewide boundary datasets.

Ensuring that boundaries, any boundary in the state of Montana, are correctly recorded and drawn is essential for several reasons:

  • Legal—establishing well-defined, consistent boundaries minimizes legal irregularities
  • Equitable collection/distribution of funds—fees, taxes, or grants are associated with a defined area (e.g., fire district)
  • Equitable distribution of benefits—boundary lines define benefit areas (e.g., public water/sewer districts)
  • Mapping—accurate boundary lines are used in creating paper maps, delivering online spatial-based services, and in public policy decision making
  • “Bad” geography—many new districts rely on existing, erroneous district boundary lines, thus producing a domino effect of inaccurate information
  • Public knowledge—public information on district boundary legal descriptions and their corresponding maps should be correct and dependable