Home Articles A worldwide comparison of cadastral systems

A worldwide comparison of cadastral systems

Daniel Steudler

Daniel Steudler
Swiss Federal Directorate for Cadastral Surveying
Seftigenstr, Wabern, Switzerland
[email protected]

Dr Abbas Rajabifard
Deputy Director of Centre for SDIs and Land Administration,
Department of Geomatics, The University of Melbourne, Australia
[email protected]

Prof Ian Williamson
Department of Geomatics, The University of Melbourne, Australia
[email protected]

PCGIAP-Working Group 3 on ‘Cadastre’ together with FIG-Commission 7 on ‘Cadastre and Land Management’ has developed a joint cadastral template that has so far been filled out by 32 countries. This project is one of the first to collect descriptions of national cadastral systems on a broad basis and to have them publicly accessible on the Internet

While many country reports and descriptions have been compiled in the area of land administration over the last ten years, there has not been much attention given to the basic cadastral issues and the role of cadastres in National Spatial Data Infrastructures.

The PCGIAP-Working Group 3 ‘Cadastre’ has two aims for the period 2003-2006. One is to facilitate a workshop for the development of an appropriate generic ‘cadastral template’ for country profile analyses describing the status of national cadastres and land administration systems. The second aim is to facilitate discussion on marine cadastres. This article, however, will focus on the cadastral template.

The workshop for the cadastral template was held in July 2003 prior to the 16th United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific (UNRCC-AP) and the 9th PCGIAP meeting in Okinawa, Japan and has been organised with the support of the Centre for Spatial Data Infrastructures and Land Administration from the Department of Geomatics of the University of Melbourne in Australia. The design of the cadastral template itself has been established in close collaboration with Commission 7 ‘Cadastre and Land Management’ of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), which has extensive experience in comparative cadastral studies.

With increased interest in land administration and cadastral systems as part of national infrastructures, there have been a number of other activities in the recent past to collect data and information about them. A common objective of these activities was to a lesser extent comparing and evaluating the systems, but rather to collect information to identify best practice. Many of these initiatives have been carried out by FIG-Commission 7 since 1996 and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) since 1997. Most of the questionnaires and results are available at https://www.unece.org/env/hs/wpla/ or . They cover a large range of different land administration issues, even though they all have their own specific objectives. The objective of the cadastral template project is to discover the basic social, conceptual, institutional context of cadastral systems as a whole.

Criteria for Questionnaire Design
The development of the cadastral template started with an outline and early draft in 2002 that was presented to PCGIAP and FIG-Commission 7. Both organisations contributed to the project through the feedback and input from several pilot countries. The research team from the University of Melbourne revised the template questionnaire accordingly in early 2003. The basic principles for the design of the questionnaire were:

  • That it had to suit and serve the purpose of the mostly Asian PCGIAP member countries as well as of the FIG-Commission 7 member countries, which are mainly European with a few African, South American and Asian representatives
  • That it had to be easy to fill out, without too many explanations
  • That it had to have a simple structure, although the results should still reflect the main issues of cadastral systems
  • That it had to be as short as possible because it will mainly be filled out by senior executives
  • That it had to be simplistic with easy to understand questions in order to have a satisfactory response rate
  • That respondents would not be asked for precise figures or statistics; estimates will be ‘good enough’
The ‘Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia & the Pacific’ (PCGIAP) was established following Resolution 16 of the 13th ‘United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific’ (UNRCC-AP) in Beijing in 1994. The aims of the PCGIAP are to “maximize the economic, social and environmental benefits of geographic information in accordance with Agenda 21 by providing a forum for nations from Asia and the Pacific”. The objectives of PCGIAP are pursued by four Working Groups, which have the titles ‘Regional Geodesy’, ‘Fundamental Data’, ‘Cadastre’, and ‘Institutional Strengthening’ (PCGIAP, 2000).