JOBURG is the first city in South Africa to have a single integrated property information system in place.
Known as the Land Information System (LIS), it brings together four different sources of information – the Deeds Office, Valuations, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the planning department – into one database.
All systems including billing now feed off this source making for improved revenue collection and service delivery for the City. But, more importantly, customer satisfaction levels should increase drastically as a result.
According to the director for the City’s Corporate Geo-Informatics directorate (CGIS), Marcelle Hattingh, this is the first time the City has a single view of the more than 680 000 City properties together with all land related information such as zoning and erf size.
Any new development applications must also be captured on the LIS database.
CGIS launched LIS early in 2007 and formally implemented the new system in April this year.
“This project has had a profound impact on the spatial information environment in the City,” Hattingh says.
She was speaking during the annual international GIS day celebrations held on 19 November at the directorate’s offices in the Metro Centre, Braamfontein.
This year’s celebrations focussed on creating awareness among the public visiting the Metro Centre of the geo-informatics products and information available.
CGIS gives free training to internal and external clients on how to use the Online Maps Website at its premises.
But the directorate’s proudest achievement this year remains the LIS, for which it received an Innovations Award from the Joburg Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (JIKE).
For the first time, departments work together across organisational boundaries to form a property value chain.
Previously the four different data sources operated independently from each other. Data was fragmented, required cross verification, and comparison – and often correction.
The revenue process in particular suffered as a result, with revenue losses because of unbilled properties, unread meters, returned bills and missing deeds information.
With the new integrated system a City official can now see the full profile of a customer at a glance and make an informed decision.
Among the benefits to residents has been greater billing accuracy, improved turnaround times for development applications, easy access to property information and faster resolution of queries.
The City in turn is seeing its revenue streams improving all the time, allowing for better service delivery and improved customer relations.
Other cities have taken note and also want to learn the tricks of the trade, says Hattingh. The City of Cape Town recently consulted the department to initiate a similar project.
There is still some way to go with data verification and cleansing.
CGIS has already verified about 43 percent of the street addresses in the City’s 4 900 townships.
In some instances, a time consuming public participation process had to be completed first because townships such as Diepsloot and Ivory Park did not have street address allocations.
Every single stand in the City is currently being checked and its zoning verified. The directorate is 99 percent complete with its Property Fix Project in which mismatches with the other three databases are resolved.
Hattingh foresees that the data cleansing and verification projects will be completed by mid 2009 at the latest.
But there is no rest for this dynamic directorate. It is currently developing a Spatial Trend Analysis tool to assist with strategic development planning across the city.
And a growth management tool will answer “the why’s and what ifs” of urban development.
Asked why she enjoys her job so much, data capturer Sulia Schellingerhout who is currently involved in the zoning verification project put it simply: “It is so exciting. It shows the city is alive, and developing.”