In the early 1980’s University of Wisconsin researchers, Dane County staff, and several state and federal agencies began exploring practical applications of Geographic Information Systems. Helping plan strategies and target resources to reduce soil erosion and improve water quality were among the GIS applications identified as having a good return on investment for Dane County. The Dane County Land Records Project demonstrated both efficiencies and improved decision making ability as a result of the application of GIS.
Around the same time Madison Gas and Electric (MG&E) began investigating development of a facilities mapping system. MG&E approached the City of Madison Engineering Department and proposed a cooperative parcel mapping project.
The participants in the Dane County Land Records Project were impressed with the power of GIS and helped form the Wisconsin Land Records Committee. That committee involved many people state wide and resulted in legislation that established the Wisconsin Land Information Program (WLIP) and its funding. The program assists local governments like Dane County in modernizing land records and developing geographic information systems. The legislative charges are carried out by the Wisconsin Land Information Board (WLIB) with assistance from the Wisconsin Land Information Association (WLIA). County governments are the coordinating entity for the WLIB’s Land Information Program (WLIP).
A key requirement for access to the funding of the WLIP is that Counties must establish a Land Information Office and develop a Land Information Modernization Plan. In that plan, Counties must address cooperation with other agencies, both public and private. To that end, County Executive Rick Phelps and U.W. chancellor Donna Shalala established the Community-Wide Land Information System Committee (CLISC) to study the cooperative development of land information systems in Dane County. Members from each segment of the Dane County community with a stake in GIS activities were invited to attend a series of meetings in 1990 and 1991 to help define roles and responsibilities. The committee was well attended with representatives from the City of Madison, Dane County, the University of Wisconsin, Madison Gas and Electric, the State of Wisconsin, and numerous other public and private organizations and individuals. Among the committee’s recommendations was establishing "a centrally coordinated entity with distributed responsibilities". A Dane County intergovernmental land information consortium to oversee the Land Information Office in implementing, facilitating, and supporting the modernization and sharing of Dane County land information.
The Dane County Land Records Modernization Plan reports goals and objectives of the LIO, as well as the status and future plans for projects coordinated by the Land Information Office.