Cadastre future developments and brief institutional issues overview.

Blog Post created by fgil on Jan 26, 2015

Future Developments

According to (Bennett, et al., 2011) new drivers impacting on the nature of role of future cadastres were discussed under the categories of political drivers, environmental drivers, technological drivers, and socio-economic. Globalisation, population urbanization, good governance, climate-change response, environmental management, 3D visualization/ analysis technologies, WSNs, standardization, and interoperability were found to be critical factors driving developments in the cadastral domain. Based on these drivers, six design elements of future cadastre emerged: Survey-Accurate Cadastres, Object-Oriented Cadastres, 3D/4D Cadastres (example presented in Figure 43), Real-Time Cadastres, Global Cadastres, and Organic Cadastres. Together, these elements provide a potential vision for the role and nature of future cadastres.

Figure 43 - Augmented reality view of right and restriction boundaries in 3D (LINZ, 2014)

Moreover, I would like to highlight the theses exposed in (Comtesse & Pauletto, 2012) article “Cadastre: Vision for the Future. The Impact of New Dimensions”, which identify six major trends that will most likely have an influence on the vision of cadastre and influence the entire evolution of the field in which the cadastre operates, according to the previous cited authors:

  • Thesis 1: The cadastre will include the third dimension of the landscape and of the objects beyond the current legal framework.
  • Thesis 2: The cadastre will blend the strategic map and the dynamic map of the land to show its historical evolution. Both views will evolve independently.
  • Thesis 3:The cadastre will be multifunctional and multijurisdictional.
  • Thesis 4:Social networks will transform the cadastre.
  • Thesis 5:New commons will emerge as a referenced object of the cadastre.
  • Thesis 6:The cadastre will become an essential element of knowledge society.


Future activities need to take into account emerging trends in geospatial information and the new opportunities they present for the application of spatial technologies and geographic information (Steudler & Rajabifard, 2012). According to the previous cited FIG nº 58 report (Steudler & Rajabifard, 2012) these trends include (but are not limited to):


  • location as the fourth element of decision-making;
  • differentiating between authoritative and volunteered (including crowdsourced) information, yet recognising the importance and value of both types of information towards spatial enablement and the enrichment of societies;
  • changing directions: simple to complex, autonomous to interdependent, spatial ubiquity;
  • growing awareness for openness of data e.g. licensing, and resultant improvements in data quality;
  • move towards service provision; and
  • recognizing the difference between spatial enablement and spatial dependency.


However lately, according to (Bennett, 2012), it seems that a paradigm shift is taking place - at least amongst geospatial and land administration professionals. There is now wide agreement that full title with accurately surveyed boundaries should not be attempted upfront in many contexts. The concept of the 'continuum of land rights' has taken hold: a staged or phased approach to delivering more secure land rights is needed. From a land administration perspective, this means, in the short term, that we need to develop and utilise faster, cheaper and more fit-for-purpose land administration designs. The range of new approaches and tools is emerging at a rapid pace. Tools already available include:


  • The social tenure domain model (STDM) - a design approach that enables the capture of non-traditional forms of land tenure. The model is already implemented in off-the shelf software packages.
  • Point cadastre - a fast cadastral approach that captures a single coordinate (potentially captured using handheld GNSS) to represent a parcel rather than a complete set of surveyed boundaries.
  • Digital pen - a tool that greatly reduces transcription processes between the field and office, thus reducing errors and speeding up recordation time.
  • Crowdsourced cadastre (or Cadastre 2.0) - an approach where citizens are trained to undertake adjudication, demarcation, surveying and recordation processes themselves using low cost processes and mobile technology.
  • High resolution satellite imagery (HRSI) - for fast paced participatory adjudication and mapping programmes in rural areas.
  • Low altitude remotely sensed imagery (LARSI) - imagery captured by lightweight and unmanned aircraft equipped with a camera, GNSS receiver and other positioning tools. Like HRSI, the imagery can be used to speed up adjudication and mapping programmes. The higher resolutions available enable utility in more built up areas.
  • The pro-poor land recordation system - a set of transparent principles and processes developed by UN-Habitat that enable the recordation and maintenance of land interests in places where individuals might live on less than USD 2 a day.


Finally, I would like to highlight a group of ubiquitous positioning technologies in rapid development that may revolutionize cadastre and land administration in mid-term (please see my post at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140916160052-14369444-cyberland-towards-an-ubiquitous-intelligent-land?trk=mp-reader-card where this subject is further developed).


Institutional issues

Several institutional issues arise within Land Management. Summarizing I will present five of them:


  • The creation of data in digital form is necessary, but not sufficient, for effective land administration to occur. Experience to date suggests that it is essential that the legal, political, economic, and social issues also be addressed. Given that any inherent problems can be overcome, significant benefits should ensue (Dale & McLaren, 2005); and
  • In advanced systems, integrated cadastral layers within a jurisdiction’s SDI ideally deliver spatially enabled LAS to support the multipurpose of tenure, use, value and development. However building this kind of interaction between these four functions is not easy. The historic institutional silos, separate data bases, separate identifiers, and separate legal frameworks need to be reorganized. For most countries this presents another major land administration challenge(Williamson, et al., 2010);
  • The politicians and decision makers in the land sector are key in this change process and need to become advocates of change through understanding the social and economic benefits of this journey of change. This will then allow any legal framework and professional barriers to be dismantled (Enemark, et al., 2014);
  • Land information now assumes far more significance that it did in the comparatively simple times of 19th and 20th centuries when it was collected and maintained in silo agencies. Land information must now be shared across agencies and throughout a nation to enable the delivery of spatially enabled societies (see Annex 1 where this subject is further developed). The challenge to land registries are not new: in all the democracies, these agencies are being asked to accept radical change in order to meet social and economic needs (Wallace, et al., 2010).
  • In the Portuguese Cadastre case Silva’s thesis (Silva, 2005) points out “The conclusion is that it is not likely that any development will take place in the short term, since it is not foreseeable that a development agent will emerge.”, and related causes of development to stakeholder configurations(Çagdas & Stubkjær, 2008), which is highlighted by (Enemark, et al., 2014) when its argued that, the largest change will be focused on the public sector where this may involve institutional and organisational reforms, including legal framework, processes and procedures, and awareness in terms of incentives and accountability.


On the other hand, Land Administration Systems are not an end in itself but facilitate the implementation of the land policies within the context of a wider national land management framework. Land administration activities are, not just about technical or administrative processes. The activities are basically political and reflect the accepted social concepts concerning people, rights, and land objects with regard to land tenure, land markets, land taxation, land-use control, land development, and environmental management. Land administration systems therefore need high-level political support and recognition (Enemark, 2009).A last statement from UN-GGIM “Future trends in geospatial information management: the five to ten year vision, July 2013” (Carpenter & Snell, 2013), about the vital future role of governments in geospatial provision and management:


  • The increasing use of authoritative, trusted geospatial information will drive adoption of geospatial information and ensure that it reaches ubiquity in the government and business decision-making process, as well as in the consumer sphere. Increasing recognition of the value inherent in the data means that NMCAs are likely to become more closely aligned with other ‘official’ bodies in government who look after, for example, statistics, the economy or land. Governments will have a vital role in ensuring that frameworks are in place that will enable the effective cooperation and collaboration between the plurality of actors that will increasingly be involved in the provision and management of geospatial information, and in ensuring that the benefits that a spatially-enabled society has the potential to offer, are realised.


PS: This text is extracted from my Master's Thesis in GIS and Science (published at RUN: The implementation of an Enterprise Geographical Information System to support Cadastre and Expropriation activitie… ) Dissertation's State of Art Chapter 2.


Bennett, R., 2012. The 'cadastral divide': A view from the bridge. [Online]
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[Accessed 04 03 2014].

Bennett, R. et al., 2011. Cadastral futures: building a new vision for the nature and role cadastres. [Online]
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[Accessed 18 03 2014].

Çagdas, V. & Stubkjær, E., 2008. Doctoral research on cadastral development.[Online]
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Comtesse, X. & Pauletto, G., 2012. Cadastre: Vision for the Future - The Impact of New Dimensions. [Online]
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[Accessed 21 03 2014].

Dale, P. F. & McLaren, R. A., 2005. GIS in land administration. In: Harlow & Longman, eds. Geographical Information Systems: Principles, Techniques, Management and Applications. Abridged Edition ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., pp. 859-875.

Enemark, S., 2009. Land Administration and Cadastral Systems in support of Sustainable Land Governance- a Global Approach. [Online]
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Enemark, S., Bell, K. C., Lemmen, C. & McLaren, R., 2014. Fit-For-Purpose Land Administration. [Online]
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LINZ, 2014. Cadastre 2034. A 10-20 Year Strategy for developing the cadastral system: Knowing the ‘where’ of land-related rights. [Online]
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[Accessed 27 02 2014].

Silva, M. A., 2005. Modelling Causes of Cadastral Development - Cases in Portugal and Spain during the last two decades. [Online]
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Wallace, J. et al., 2010. Spatially Enabling Land Administration: Drivers, Initiatives and Future Directions for Australia. [Online]
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Williamson, I., Enemark, S., Wallace, J. & Rajabifard, A., 2010. Land administration for sustainable development. [Online]
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