Digital Cadastral Records A New Zealand Experience

Digital Cadastral Records A New Zealand Experience

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B J Coutts
B J Coutts
Senior Lecturer, University of Otago, New Zealand
[email protected]

A J Bevin
Surveyor General
Department of Land
Information, New Zealand

D B Grant
Former Deputy
Surveyor General
Department of Land
Information, New Zealand

The programme was to provide New Zealand with an automated cadastral record system, which was to include information about the surveys that had been undertaken in order to create title to land, and the title record itself.
The title record in New Zealand includes the “definition” of the land area (external dimensions and area) and the ownership of the land in question. This system has accumulated over 150 years of land dealings.

This system was to build on the existing expectations of the New Zealand public that there would generally be no dispute about the extent of specific ownerships and who owned which particular area of land,. This project, to later become known as Landonline, would alleviate concerns about the continued use of a fragile paper record, would improve the time taken to get new proposals through the official process, and would utilise the latest in digital technology.

The Landonline Vision
In particular the Landonline project would allow:

  • an intelligent record – one that could be automated and interrogated from external sources;
  • have consistency in applying existing legislation, standards, corporate knowledge and expertise that is translated into business rules, thereby allowing transactional use by practitioners;
  • automation of the whole process for efficiency and effectiveness by applying the business rules to the intelligent record.

The Building Blocks
In order to implement such an ambitious project a number of building blocks had to be in place, as well as a good basic data set. The accumulated data in the New Zealand survey and title system had been systematically accumulated since the establishment of a single national government in 1876.

A clear vision of the purpose and usefulness of the final product was required. A clear strategy, encapsulating the requirements of the practitioners that were going to use the system, was essential. Additionally, to gain support and funding, there had to be clear benefits to the nation that would attract the investment needed to design and build the system.

Integration of the government institutions that were responsible for the present system was required. Historically, the land titles office had been separate from the government survey records office, though the two were often co-located and worked cooperatively. In order to achieve an integrated digital system, the physical institutions had to be merged into one for best results. This also required the integration and re-engineering of the processes of entering survey plans into the system to the issue of title documents.

This re-engineering required identification of the essential data components of these systems, the dependencies between different areas (e.g., the dependency of title data on cadastral survey data) and the processes required to make this data authoritative. A key factor in this re-engineering was the need to separate the data itself, from the medium which historically has been paper – i.e., survey plans and certificates of titles

Once the re-engineering had been completed at a high level, and a data model created, the more detailed design and build of the automated system could take place within a sound framework.

The preparation of the system for use required several components to be in place. Firstly there was a need for a robust geodetic framework on which to base the incoming data. In order that new work could be accepted and processed, it had to be insconsistence in its survey control over the entire network and be able to “pass through” a set of computer business rules without causing problems of “fit” between the new work and the old. This required the adoption of a modern and comprehensive geodetic datum for all of New Zealand.