An estimated 70% of total land parcels in the world have no documented right. Not having documented rights to land and to ownership hinders growth and development of a country or region. Many countries have inherited land administration systems first implemented under colonial rule, and the processes involved are often too complex, paperwork cumbersome and ancillary costs forbidding. These statutory systems also often do not record customary or tribal rights to lands. This trend excludes members of society and increases the role of middlemen in all activities related to land ownership and registry.
Every nation that aspires for economic development should have a government managed revenue base. This revenue base can be created by having the property rights well recorded and registered, well understood and well managed. This, supported with the right policy framework, facilitates transparent and easy access to credit for building infrastructure like roads and bridges and creating social infrastructure like schools and libraries. The positive relationship between effective land, property and tax systems, better governance and policy making improves individuals’ social and economic security.
Today, governments want to be more transparent, more open to their citizens and want to put in place integrated solutions for monitoring and managing land and property records. So we see a trend in moving toward digitisation of land information. This trend involves the integration of all land, property, rights and their ownership information across government, so that society can be afforded a holistic and spatial view of the fabric of the many fold interest in lands. We see these properties and rights from a map perspective where boundaries and locations are clearly outlined. These are some of the trends we are seeing in several countries around the world.
Often, land administration cannot be viewed in isolation. Land valuation, land administration, land use and even the use of land administration systems need to be taken into account. Here, integration is absolutely a key component. The understanding of the holistic viewpoint of those land assets whether they are privately held, and have transactions around those privately held lands, or whether they are publicly held, is critical. The complete inventory around how those rights and ownership change through time is absolutely critical. It is necessary to ensure that countries do not have solutions in which the components are managed in a loose way where they lose track of the data and start having duplicate data. So it’s absolutely critical that these systems be integrated using suitable technology solutions. This ensures that land administration processes enable proper valuation and effective taxation which enable the local governments to fund the local needs through a structured and organised funding mechanism. These processes are in turn supportive of the broader development of the economy. So, the core integration of this cycle is absolutely critical and it all starts with the land Acts.
The geospatial industry is moving towards providing cost-effective solutions which allow scalability of solutions across jurisdictions that are very large or small – from the local areas to the center and vice versa. We see a movement towards solutions that have consistency in approach; consistency in the development cycle of the software and solutions; and a consistent approach on how they get deployed and are leveraged. We are also starting to see a more consistent approach amongst vendors in the use of standards. This allows for more integrated products that are scalable and affordable.
Developed versus emerging world
The needs of emerging countries vis-a-vis cadastre and property management systems are quite different from those of the developed world. Developed countries have legacy policies and procedures in place which help in documenting, managing and tracking land holdings. These countries are looking for tools which allow them to be more efficient in their day-to-day operations and they are looking for more decision supporting analytics that can help them to predict what is going to happen in the next 5 to 10 years in their communities. Technology is making it possible for governments to better analyze and visualize the financial health of their local property markets.
Countries that are in the early stages of land management and administration want to put policies and procedures in place and the processes that support a manageable yet scalable structure of land management. So they are often at the very early stages where they need structure, organisation, and tools to support that structure. Developing economies have the advantage of learning from the best practices of developed nations in implementing land and property management systems and incorporating the best practices as they embark upon a structured and sophisticated land administration programme.
Right now, only 40 to 50 countries in the world are actively reorganising their land systems. It is important for the geospatial industry to work directly with the governments that are willing bring about this change around land administration, to connect with them and to work with them in embracing global best practices. It is also important to leverage the work done by organisations such as World Bank and USAID in the land administration arena. Having a common language amongst all the stakeholders working in the space and understanding the value proposition of effective land and property administration systems for the economic growth and sustainability of a nation is paramount.