Is there software that takes legal description text as input for conversion to some computer friendly GIS format? For example:

Those portions of the North Half of the Southeast Quarter and
the Northeast Quarter of the Southwest Quarter of Section 5,
T.13S., R.4E., S.B.B.&M., according to United States Government
Survey approved February 24, 1876 described as follows:

Beginning at a 1 1/2 inch iron pipe having coordinates
Y = 329,169.63, X = 1,895,486.55, set for the center of said
Section 5, thence along the East line of said Southwest
Quarter, S.4°11'18"W., 24.65 feet; thence S.56°02'45"E.,
All bearings and coordinates are referred to the California
Coordinate System, Zone 6.

More specifically, open source software.

Assuming that info that would be broad enough such as "S.B.B.&M." & "California Coordinate System, Zone 6." can be addressed but realizing that a reference to something like a specific adjacent parcel recorded locally would require manual effort.

  • Not that I've seen. The problem is a 'legal' description can contain just about any phrases and use names that are not contained in the data: e.g. follow the westernmost boundary of Farmer Fred's property to the creek. It's really painful I know but a bit of real intelligence is required to turn legal description into a shape. – Michael Stimson May 19 '15 at 23:29
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    I agree. It's hard enough to decipher the above description as a human, let alone trying to program a computer to figure it out automatically... – Stephen Lead May 20 '15 at 0:36
  • No such free software exists that I was able to find, and I looked pretty hard because this is 95% of my current consulting work. I know of two commercially available packages that do it. One via a module in their software that connects over the web to a service on one of their servers. I was not terribly impressed with the results/interface for corrections. If you have a clean, consistent description it was great. But those are few and far between. Part of why it's a service like it is though is because they are constantly updating/improving it. – Chris W May 20 '15 at 2:56

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