At the 2016 Aspen Ideas Festival, Forward Cities Detroit council member and CEO of Loveland Technologies, Jerry Paffendorf, presented an ambitious idea: to map the entire world, parcel by parcel.

The Aspen Ideas Festival is the nation's premier, public gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to present and discuss the ideas and issues that both shape our lives and challenge our times. Paffendorf received a scholarship to attend the Aspen Ideas festival through a nomination from Forward Cities and was also selected to pitch an idea for $25,000 at the Aspen Ideas Award Contest. 

Paffendorf's project builds on the success that Loveland Technologies, has already accomplished in mapping every parcel in the US – a country built on the concept of private property. But now he wants to extend this free and user-friendly online database to explore every parcel of property on the planet, including who owns everything and more data related to land use.

The need for mapping parcel-level data developed in Detroit, where questions about property ownership, condition and occupancy were key to addressing rampant vacancy and blight issues. This information is vital to helping residents, neighborhood organizations and government employees make planning and policy decisions and solve their own unique problems. 

By mapping every parcel of land on the planet, Loveland Technologies aims to close the information gap and to provide citizens across the globe with powerful, community-changing knowledge.

As the project's description says, "parcels are like cells, and the data attached to parcels is like DNA. When parcels and parcel data are put together and shared publicly, we can start to understand how well the organisms that are our cities, states, and entire countries are functioning, and how to improve and modify them. We can see change over time, and indications of what the future has in store. Building a national database and map of parcel data is a foundational step in decoding the global property genome—the implications are enormous."

While Paffendorf did not win the grand prize, he did garner much attention and support for Loveland Technologies to keep propelling this project forward. Currently, there is a crowdfunding project underway, with each donation adding international information to Loveland Technologies online database, parcel by parcel. The first goal is to map all 42,902 parcels of the Canary Islands. 

Watch the video below to learn more about this ambitious project and many valuable applications for knowing who owns the land, down to the parcel. 

The Lift | Jerry Paffendorf from The Lift on Vimeo.