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Excellence in Territorial Management and Cadastre: The CENTRIC Approach

The H2020 CENTRIC project (www.centric.center) deals with the management and control of the territory as an essential pre-condition for a very wide range of economic and social aspects. This is done by promoting scientific excellence in domains and scientific disciplines such as airborne and satellite imagery processing, 3D/4D geospatial big data analysis and analytics, linked geospatial data, photogrammetry, surveying, simulation, feature extraction, land classification, change detection, and territorial monitoring from remotely sensed data.

Unlike most European countries, Romania does not yet have a general cadastre. Such a deficiency represents a critical element for the economy of the country, since it makes legal contracts very difficult to be implemented. Starting from such a complex scenario, the initiative of the project Centre for ExcelleNce in TerRItorial management and Cadastre — CENTRIC — was but natural. The project is financed by the EU Framework Program Horizon 2020 — Teaming action, which is aimed at associating advanced research institutions to other institutions, agencies or regions for the creation or upgrade of existing centres of excellence.

The main aim of CENTRIC, starting from such a complex scenario, is in the long term creation of the new centre of excellence on territorial management and cadastre in Romania. In particular, the goal of Phase 1 of the project (May 2015 – May 2016) is to prepare a very detailed business plan leading (during Phase 2) to the establishment of the centre. This business plan will include a long-term vision and the mission of the centre, a detailed SWOT analysis of the domain of territorial management and cadaster in Romania, a long-term scientific and innovation strategy, a market analysis, the business concept of the centre, the analysis of possible cooperation, strategic alliances and long-term partnerships, the operational and financial plan of the centre, and the definition of a strategic growth roadmap.

The complexity of the domain targeted by CENTRIC and its scientific, economic, and societal relevance will require the definition of a long-term vision and mission, resulting from the intersection of horizontal (enabling) factors, e.g., social and economic factors, with vertical (technical) research and technological trends.

From a business perspective, the strategy of CENTRIC is aimed to be simple and direct — maximizing opportunities to generate revenue by utilizing the access to internal and external expertise and intellectual property, while minimizing costs for the organization to be self-sufficient and sustainable in its operations. Furthermore, it is intended to support the development of the business community around CENTRIC to form the basis for the creation of the innovative ecosystem. In short, CENTRIC will be a centre of research, studies, and actions on ideas regarding territorial management, mapping and cadastre, operating as a meeting point between public administration, local authorities, universities, professional figures, companies and stakeholders in general, referring to the management and knowledge of a very wide range of territorial issues.

From a technical point of view, the consortium has identified and compared Romanian and international research, development and innovation activities in the fields of cadastre and territorial management, that have been useful for the definition of the scientific and innovation strategy of CENTRIC, as well as of the technological background of its activities. Indeed, CENTRIC will improve the instruments of territorial development and urban planning activities, having a focus on their relation with cadastre activities.

Until the current stage of the project, the research and analysis focused on: the analysis and the state-of-the art; the establishment of the stakeholders’ community and long-term partnerships; and the creation of the CENTRIC cluster.

Analysis and the state-of-the-art

By the innovation landscape in Romania, a list of required Romanian priorities has been obtained. This list has facilitated the establishment of the R&D issues of interest for CENTRIC and the enhancement of the scientific and innovation profile of the Centre. By comparing these priorities with other innovation techniques used at international and national scale, a list of topics and R&D issues specific for activities of cadastre and territorial planning has been obtained. These priorities will help CENTRIC to reach its main objectives.

Moreover, an analysis/evaluation of current European best practices, in terms of (emerging) technologies as well as (relevant) regulations, in the three strictly connected domains of territorial management, mapping and cadastre, has been made.

According to the title of the project, the centre envisages the cadastre as a veritable cornerstone. Cadastre is defined as a multipurpose entity setting the foundations (the cadastral parcel constituting its basis) for achieving territorial knowledge and making interventions both on and with the territory and its actors (territorial governance). Consequently, not only does the cadastre clearly manage to integrate the technical sectors (urban planning, transportation, mobility, commuting, water resources, waste, energy) but also provides an organic base for the diverse actors involved in the governance process for getting to know and manage the territory.

Cadastre is meant to be the service to conduct censuses on real estate, certify its location and consistence and keep and update all corresponding data. Nonetheless, it is only by achieving a synergy with other territorial entities and through the participation/involvement of the citizenship that a high quality and full reliability of the cadastral “product” can be attained.

Stakeholders’ community and long-term partnerships

Given the growing involvement in governance processes of non-institutional actors alongside other stakeholders like associations and local communities, etc., one can conclude that a territorial governance stemming from the cadastre and complying with recent European directives will have to be based on a widely built and collective commitment to define the economic, social, and environmental development axes at national level. This is the reason why the CENTRIC project aims to develop capacity building by gathering a community of local Romanian stakeholders while involving stakeholders at the international level. The involvement may range from institutional involvements, to informal involvement, to collaborative delivery of services, to licensing technologies for specific services to be offered. Through the establishment of cooperation, alliances and long-term partnerships, CENTRIC will be set on the path to become one of the main players active in the fields of the action lines, in Romania and internationally, and bring it in line with major innovative developments of the geospatial sector, as well as to be a part of the community of stakeholders’ public/ private to raise awareness and increase participations. The framework for cooperation is essential as the whole project has been based on the creation of long-lasting joint venture between partners from both advanced and low performing countries. CENTRIC will be a multi-tasking, multipurpose and multi-user Centre of Excellence, a cross point between research, companies, and public administrations.

Creation of the CENTRIC cluster

Another aim of the project is to create a new cluster, a research and innovation ecosystem built around the CENTRIC Centre of Excellence and Innovation Centre, where various players (research centres, public administration and industry) will benefit from significant “know-how” transfer from other EU countries by leveraging on a number of successful and innovation-related concepts. The innovation cluster in CENTRIC will be built gradually, based on a learning-by-doing approach. Its activities will be aimed at being a complement to those of the CENTRIC excellence centre itself and other existing research, public, and business stakeholders already active in Romania in the field of geospatial technologies.

The services of the cluster will have the objective of solving some existing challenges and gaps, in terms, for instance, of a deficit of networking and collaborations between existing stakeholders in Romania. The needs and interests of the members in the cluster will be monitored and taken into account to prioritize and focus the range of activities offered. The cluster will play the role of a connecting interface at national and international level and will be itself highly interconnected with similar organizations abroad, analyzing existing initiatives and programs, which can be opened to the members of the cluster and developing pilot regional and trans-regional actions as needed, in regard to the future strategic fields of interest for CENTRIC. The CENTRIC innovation cluster will follow up with the initiatives taken by the European Union to support the development of clusters and the cooperation between them, and will participate to exchanges and projects with similar organizations abroad as well.

Building upon this cross-regional approach, the CENTRIC innovation cluster will ultimately increase the capacity of the centre of excellence to participate in the market competition, and will contribute to implementing innovative approaches and techniques in territorial management, mapping and cadastre in Romania by supporting the creation of new products and services with higher added value; expanding the investment potential for the industries; improving employment and mobility through the sustainable development of all partners involved; and establishing relations of cooperation and trust to the benefit of its members.