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Proper land administration cornerstone for sustainable development

Land administration documentation indicates the relationship between people and land. However, about three-quarters of these people-to-land-relationships concerning about 4.5 billion cases the world over are not documented, which often results in land disputes and land grabbing, thus denying the local people of their rights. Sustainable development, human rights or spatial planning are difficult to achieve without proper land administration. But proper land administration systems need proper data standards, which facilitate quick and efficient setup of land registrations.

Bringing knowledge together
It’s a pity to see the wheel being re-invented again and again, leading to such waste of time and money, especially in countries that do not have the means or funding. New land administration systems are being developed worldwide. They experience the same struggles again and again — how to divide responsibilities, how to bring together fragmented data sets of different organisations, how to define public or private roles or which IT structure to choose. As a consequence, land administrations are often incomplete, and data is not up-to-date and lacks quality and governance. A successful land administration system should provide answers to these questions. In order to do so, land information systems required a data model that is able to structure and connect the data.

There was an emerging global demand for a widely accepted data model (domain) standard making use of the already existing knowledge. This was supported by UN-Habitat, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG). A team of land administration professionals initiated the development of a common data model which was flexible enough to function as the core of any land administration system. The Dutch Kadaster was part of the international team that created a practical solution – a common standard called the Land Administration Domain Model or LADM.

Why Land Administration Domain Model
In land administration systems, data standards are required to identify elements. These may include objects, transactions, relationships between spatial units and persons, classification of land use, land value and map representations of objects. In existing administrations, a data standard is generally limited to the region, or jurisdiction, where the land administration is in operation. The new LADM data standard is the opposite of limited and offers great flexibility. It not only defines the elements that provide a basis for any land administration setup but also defines them in a way that it can be applied anywhere in the world. LADM provides a common framework, a set of concepts and associated terms. It also addresses all the parties, their rights, responsibilities, spatial units, surveying and terminology among others, with the power to combine data from different sources. LADM acquired ISO accreditation in November 2012, thus ensuring that it meets the internationally recognised quality standards.

In several countries, the LADM data standard has already proven its potential by adapting to local needs. In Cyprus, the LADM model serves as the backbone for improving data processing and provision of the existing Cyprus Land Information System (CLIS). In Portugal, an object-oriented model for the LADM has been developed for the Portuguese Cadastre and the Portuguese Real Estate Register. LADM is also being used in the FAO project called the Solutions for the Open Land Administration, which aims to make computerised land administration systems more affordable and sustainable in developing countries. In the land administration systems of Samoa, Nepal and Ghana, the new database software is based on the LADM requirements.

Sharing knowledge for sustainable development
The Kadaster’s contribution to LADM aligns with its belief in the benefits of sharing knowledge. Kadaster is short for the Netherlands’ Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency. We have a long tradition of collecting and providing data on property and geography. We are constantly enriching our knowledge by sharing what we know and learning from our international colleagues. This is reflected in whether we are helping in implementation of the European INSPIRE directive on geographic data or supporting the Russian cadastre in designing a 3D cadastre system. We believe in collaboratoin for the benefit of the society, bringing together experts in the field of land administration, both within the Netherlands and abroad. On July 6, 2012 an international workshop organised in the Netherlands witnessed 30 participants from 10 countries discussing the potential of LADM for both existing and new themes, such as reducing poverty and registering emission rights.

LADM will accelerate the development and implementation of proper land administration systems as that is the cornerstone for economic growth.