Cadastre defines value of life in the Netherlands

Cadastre defines value of life in the Netherlands

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Kadaster is mainly responsible for the cadastral mapping and cadastral system of the Netherlands. However, during the last 10-15 years, our organisation has broadened its scope drastically to include the topographic service of the country in its mandate.

Kees de Zeeuw
Kees de Zeeuw
Director
Kadaster International

Briefly describe the mandate and activities of Kadaster.
Kadaster is mainly responsible for the cadastral mapping and cadastral system of the Netherlands. However, during the last 10-15 years, our organisation has broadened its scope drastically to include the topographic service of the country in its mandate. We are nowadays responsible for many more registrations in the country, so the Dutch Kadaster is becoming more and more a kind of centre for geoinformation in the Netherlands.

How do you provide data to government organisations, private organisations or to the general publiuc? Is there some kind of licensing required to use this data?
We have all kinds of systems where people can find information, such as when they are buying or selling a house, they can have the required information from the Kadaster. Our data is all public and is easily accessible to the citizens, professionals and government organisations.

Everybody can enter the cadastral data or have access to the data of Kadaster. An excellent development that has taken place over the years is that while ten years ago people had to come to a regional office to collect the data, now the same information can be accessed using the internet from your home, on the mobile phone or the PDA. It is worth mentioning here that while our data is public, there is a nominal cost involved if someone wants to use that data.

Is the criterion of providing data the same for the public and the user organisations?
It is a bit different with user organisations because our main focus in that case is to become a part of their business processes. The Dutch Government is now trying to connect all the different agencies under a system called the ‘national system of key registries’. For example, connecting the municipality system, which is responsible for registering the persons, with our system of registering the properties. As a policy in the Netherlands, every data of the citizens can be collected only once, which means that if you have given your data to the Municipality or Kadaster, no other government organisation should come and ask the same information again because once you have given it to the government, it should be registered centrally and used by all organisations. It is an ambitious project but we are getting really far in connecting all these databases.

At what scales is the data available?
The Netherlands is one of the most data intensive countries in the world. We are a small country and have data available at a very precise scale. At Kadaster, we have the cadastral map which is available in the range of 1:500 to 1:1000. Our topographical mapping is from a scale of 1:10,000 to 1:1 million. All of the Netherlands, including the rural areas, is available at a scale of 1:10,000. Besides, there is also a large scale map of 1:500, which, at the moment, is the responsibility of the municipalities. What is also interesting about the Netherlands is that our rate of updating the data is getting smaller and smaller. While we used to update our topographic maps every four years in the past, it has now come down to two years and will be probably even less in the future.

At the most fundamental level, cadastres drive the economic growth of a country. How are cadastres contributing to the growth of a country like the Netherlands?
There are two forms of cadastral systems around the world, which include the ones run by governments and the informal systems run by different groups in society. The Netherlands system is created around the formal system with almost no informal system in existence. Kadaster is a very important part of this national organised setup. A Dutch person would not believe if I send him a letter saying that there is a mistake in the official records and the property he lives on does not actually belong to him. People would not believe that the government could be so unreliable. However, in many other countries, it is never clear what your actual property is. In the Netherlands, the value of life is defined by the cadastral system.

What is Kadaster’s contribution to the Dutch SDI?
Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) comprises of five elements which include data, standards, people, institutions and technology. Geonovum is a Dutch governmental organisation that is specifically responsible for the national geoinformation standards. Geonovum is an important party with respect to the standards, while Kadaster is an important player in both technology and data. We are a national data provider with a lot of data available and thus become an important part of our NSDI.

Let us now talk about Kadaster International’s mandate.
Kadaster International is a consultancy service that we provide the world over. Our focus is on government to government advisory. We started by showing other people the working of our system and the tremendous benefits that it can offer. However, over the years we have learnt that it is not just about projecting our system to other countries but also to advice people on how to setup their own systems. Of course, it can be either formal or informal, depending on the situation in a country. In that sense, we have developed ourselves a lot and have become consultants in taking account for other requirements and systems. We are at present involved in setting up the Social Tenure Domain Model, which is designed to help other countries to not only put together the formal rights of land and ownership but also the informal rights. We can also help in using this system in countries that have a majority of slums by helping them in setting up the value of land, ownership of land and the use of land. So, we are more in land use and land administration now rather than in cadastral mapping.

Does Kadaster International provides these consultancy services at a price or free of cost?
Kadaster International is allowed to do these activities but not with profit motive, rather it should be based on a cost recovery model. While we do ask for a tariff or price for these services, in practice it means that most of the time we have to look for a financing organisation like the World Bank or the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We use the funds of these financing organisations to fill in the demands of different countries around the world.

Land administratioin is something that varies a lot between regions and also has a lot of legacy systems? How do you adapt to local conditions in such a situation?
While in the Netherlands, we use tablet PCs, GPS and other such modern devices to map to centimetre accuracy, it is extremely difficult to do so in a country like Rwanda. In Rwanda, we went into the field and saw that the rural people can identify their own fields very well in an orthophoto of their area. They could indicate their area with a pen. So we suggested the use of digital pen, which turned out to be a very quick way to collect data. It is a beautiful example of a system that is very well adapted to the local level of knowledge and technology.

Creating awareness is the first step towards realising the potential of land. What is Kadaster International’s initiative in creating awareness in developing countries?
Kadaster, together with ITC – Twente, has setup the United Nations School for Land Administration, which is involved in organising courses in the region. We have a course here in the Netherlands where people can come over and be at ITC for several weeks or months. As far as awareness and knowledge sharing is concerned, this school is a very important form of doing it for us. We use it in our promotion and also to get people connected to land administration. Besides, we do a lot of projects and courses abroad and participate in conferences to spread awareness.