GIS at the core of land administration

GIS at the core of land administration

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Sajeli bin Kipli
Director of Land and Survey Department, Sarawak, Malaysia

A territorial dispute is a disagreement over the possession and control of land between two or more states. Many a times, it produced inter-state conflicts involving the use of force and leading to the outbreak of war. Here comes the role of surveyors and, land and cadastre information. Cadastre data includes information about land ownership, past ownership, type of ownership, uses, current activities, permits, licenses, rights and restrictions, transactions, land value, purchase price, taxation, legal description, monument description and so on.

The Land and Survey Department, Sarawak, Malaysia, is a multi-discipline government agency comprising land, survey, planning and valuation services. The Department maintains a well established and unified land cadastral and land registration system for the State of Sarawak. The land and cadastral information which formed the core data for land administration and land management has been converted into digital and geospatial application as an integrated land information system, known as LASIS (Land and Survey Information System) which records land ownership, land values, land use and other land-related data.


Figure 1

The Land and Survey Department has also embarked on utilising LASIS for the Urban and Regional Planning purposes. Since 2007, the Department has implemented in stages the use of LASIS in planning applications in the regional (Divisional) Offices which provide frontline services to the public and are responsible for all ground and basic data on land. All 11 Divisional Offices have been brought to the fold by 2010 and hence, processing of most planning applications are now handled within the Department using LASIS.

The application of GIS technology has helped provide the necessary datasets of various land information to facilitate the work of planners. The immediate advantage is seen in the handling of various planning applications for development and in the formulation of master plans, structure plans and local plans. GIS has allowed multiple-information such as land use, land commitment, aerial photographs, topography, land tenure and other land-related information to be overlaid with the cadastral layer, making the work of planners more effective and efficient.

The availability and use of spatial data via GIS technology coupled with the land administration and tenure data and other relevant information in the Department’s database have much more potentials and applications in development planning. The Department is continuously leveraging on such information and technology, and exploring possibilities to be applied in this important task. Figure 2 & Figure 3 show the department’s plan for LASIS under phase 1 and phase 2.


Figure 2


Figure 3

The State generally adopts a centralised planning approach with the objective to ensure efficient and optimal use of land. This is executed through the preparation of the Structure Plan and the Local Plan, which provides the framework and guide for development. It aims to achieve the goals of accelerating the State’s economic growth and development, as well as improving the quality of life for the people of Sarawak. GIS technology has provided the platform and decision-support tool in locating and considering sites suitability and constraints for development, while at the same time allows a multi-functional organisation like us the ability to manage information on current and changing land uses, and the management of land resources which is critical for the economic growth and facilitate sustainable management and development for the future of the State.

Geospatial datasets available for such analysis and decision-making for development planning include:

  1. Cadastral layer and ownership information
  2. Digital Terrain Model (DTM) generated from digital aerial photographs
  3. Orthophoto (aerial photograph mosaics)
  4. Topographic maps
  5. Land use map
  6. Water catchment map
  7. Road map

The roles of LASIS and GIS in the development planning include some of the followings:

  1. Mapping the suitable locations of planned economic or development activities.
  2. Identifying the trend in the land use and valuation.
  3. Identifying sites which meet the criteria of sustainable development.
  4. Analysing and visualizing spatial changing patterns and trends of development activities.
  5. Modelling spatial change of development activities.
  6. Making a proper plan for economic development strategies.

In future, the Department considers making planning submissions as on-line applications or allowing digital submissions, and improving on processing and decision-making of such applications.

The Department recognises and realises the need to be able to respond to environmental concerns, and access to timely and reliable information; and the public needs for such information. The availability and flow of information among the stakeholders, including the public, is essential if the primary goal is to sustainably manage land resources.

To conclude, the State government is cognisant of the rapid expansion of land being brought under various economic sectors, hence the ever-increasing and pressing need to adopt and improve usage of tools such as GIS-based technology to ensure timely and accurate information management as a way to manage sustainable development of the State.

Note: This article is based-on a paper presentation during Geospatial World Forum 2012 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.