Cadastre marks beginning of a healthy economy

Cadastre marks beginning of a healthy economy

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We are spending over a billion dollars between GeoEye 1 and 2 so that our customers can see an assured source of data over the long term

Drs. Th A J Burmanje (Dorine)
Drs. Th A J Burmanje (Dorine)
Chair Executive Board
Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency (Kadaster)
The Netherlands

Dutch cadastre is 180 years old. What are the changes it has undergone over these years?
Cadastral system in the Netherlands started as a means of collecting taxes. It has evolved to provide information about cadastre and land registry along with geospatial information. In 2004, it merged with the topographical service of the Ministry of Defence, establishing the Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency. As a result, we can give more integrated answers and solutions to the society. The second major change is that we have moved towards a partnership organisation. We are aware of our position with other parties. The process of information sharing is not restricted to a nation’s border. We have partners in public and private sectors with whom we are working to move a step forward.

Do you have a mechanism to involve citizens’ participation in cadastre information?
We do involve our citizens. We have information about ownership of land parcels. Not every citizen in the Netherlands is an owner of a particular piece of land; there are people who rent out their parcel/home/ building to others. We also keep our people updated about the purposes for which they can use our datasets. Apart from providing information about land registry and ownership, Kadaster also offers advice on issues like building a new infrastructure, building a railroad etc. If someone wants to convert their residential land into an industrial one, we also provide information about that.

Kadaster now includes all kinds of geospatial information. Is it the agency responsible for providing geospatial information in the Netherlands?
No. To be precise, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, along with some private organisations, is responsible.

The ministry gives us a task and on the basis of that we provide information about land registry and mapping, combined with geospatial information.

The Netherlands has a very unique geography as most of the country is below sea level. What kind of challenges does it present in terms of cadastral information?
It is true that half of our country is below the sea level. Therefore, we are very good in defending ourselves against the sea and reclaiming new land from the sea. Despite being a small country, we have a population of around 16 million people. So, we reclaim land in order to provide shelter to people. Kadaster keeps all the information about the reclaimed land.

How are cadastral and land registry needs changing or evolving over a period of time? How is Kadaster using the latest geospatial technology?
One of the major technological developments is 3D cadastre. Our team is working towards integrating 3D cadastre into the conventional system of 2D. However, this integration is in a development phase. In the Netherlands, we have three or more owners for one piece of land. As an example, the same piece of land may have an underground parking, a building and apartments in that building, and all of these may have different owners. So, the same piece of land has many different owners and 3D registration would help us in registering the exact ownership.

Earlier, land surveying was conducted by a team of three or more people who used to go to the field to take measurements. Nowadays, only one person, equipped with a GPS device, is required to take measurements. Our organisation has adopted many of these technological advancements. The way one can distribute information is changing almost daily.

The way in which data is distributed is changing because of the developments in IT. How is Kadaster disseminating information to its users? Is Kadaster also providing value-added products and services?
We are cooperating with the public sector to add value to our datasets and deliver it to our citizens and customers. We sell our information according to the tariff fixed by the ministry. As far as open data is concerned, we are still contemplating about it. Discussions about privacy and quality are important before providing open data facility. Sometimes we gather a person’s confidential financial information for land registry; for example, the amount of loan taken to buy a parcel or building. We cannot divulge such confidential information. Therefore, we are discussing this issue with people and society on how to protect privacy, authenticity and quality of information. However, our topographical information is open for free use since January 1st, 2012.

Does industry support you in providing value-added information?
Yes, in some smaller projects they support us (or we support them). We try to cooperate with each other.

In developing nations, it is observed that (re)organisation of land has a direct bearing on the economic development of the country. How does an organised land system contribute to the continuous economic growth of a developed nation like The Netherlands?
I think registration of land and its ownership marks the beginning of a healthy economy. We have chosen this theme to commemorate our 175th anniversary. We held discussions with our guests on the topic, on how land registry and ownership can contribute to the economic growth of a country. We are convinced that if people register their land and ownership, their investments will increase. In the Netherlands, every inch of our land is registered. People have so much faith in us that whenever they want to buy land, they approach Kadaster to know about the owner and the history of that land. People in our country feel secure with information provided by the Kadaster.

In what way does Kadaster interact with initiatives like spatial data infrastructure (SDI)?
We are collaborating with several organisations to create a national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI). For example, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation has some kind of spatial data and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment has different data. We are trying to collaborate with all such organisations to create an SDI.

As a cadastral organisation, you have to be very accurate with your measurements. On the other hand, organisations like those involved in soil conservation, land use and agriculture are not so particular about accuracy in terms of measurements; they are more worried about the accuracy in terms of correct thematic information, like the kind of soil etc. Do you face such issues?
Yes, we often face such issues. However, we at Kadaster are very proud for being accurate. For years, our surveyors have been trained to be precise and accurate while taking measurements. Customers are not willing to pay for more accurate measurements. Since our professionals are trained in accuracy, they are a bit apprehensive about these developments. We are having discussions to make them aware about such kind of demands.

You are looking towards two different standards, one which is precise and the other which is not. But still, the two are tied up in some way.
We don’t have a ready solution for this problem. But, we are trying to make standards in our field. We are trying to do that in Europe through the INSPIRE project.

INSPIRE is a pan-European concept, but still there will be differences; for example, the way cadastre is maintained in the UK or in the Netherlands or in Italy. Do you think that these should be rationalised? If yes, how?
The approach of INSPIRE is very good; it starts with determining the standards for each country. The first step of INSPIRE will be to identify all the sources from different countries with which we will work. Then, some kind of certification will be given about which source is from Italy, the Netherlands, Spain etc. We are having detailed discussions about standardisation.

Kadaster is quite active in providing consultancy services for various international projects. What is the rationale in providing these services?
We have special staff within our organisation to handle international projects. We think it is our social responsibility to help countries where land registry and cadastre are not well developed. We work in close coordination with the locals of a particular country. We provide consultancy services to those countries which ask for help. In many cases, we work in cooperation with the World Bank, welfare organisations and the local government.