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Accurate purpose-dependent cadastre - trend, synergy, technique, or nonsense?

There by 2009 I elaborated the systematization of the Evolution of the cadastre of a municipality, which in its natural logic suggested a progress between the reasons why the cadastre adopts for tax purposes in a primitive way, and how that need to integrate data, actors and technologies takes a contextual integration.

For 2014, the Cadastre 2034 has stated that the evolution of the vision of the subject "Cadastre", in which having the total coverage of the municipality, region or country, is more important than having precision, considering that the data will be perfected gradually. Something that resembles my approach of those years, in what we called "contextual management" taking advantage of "geomatic management".

Fit for purpose: Trend?

The other graphic is taken from my last course of Land Management in the CIAF of Colombia, and shows how to future Cadastre 2034 has raised the participation of the users in the update of data in real time and the incorporation of information with the adjusted precision to the purpose.

And it is that Colombia will be the pilot of a reduced exercise in which we could test the so-called "fit for purpuse" Cadastre, with disappointments of what has been done in Africa and that seems an abomination in a context where the method, the precision and the procedures have become more important than the user himself.

We will also see the disappointment of making an "imprecise cadastre" in a place where there is already a title; which will be more than interesting.

En GIM International has been published an extremely interesting article regarding the Cadastre “adjusted to the context”. As crazy as it may seem to think, the field test that has been carried out in Kenya has included factors that did not converge under the same conditions before: Government Entities, Technology and Community.
While it is true, according to its authors, this first essay has been a 'learning experience' from which 'more exhaustive tests must be carried out to demonstrate the scalability of this approach', it seems to us that this first step is going In the way of 'how' similar works can be carried out in an efficient and mostly coordinated way. Model that can be later replicated, having the adequacy to each specific context clear.
Immediately comes to our mind the Latin American context with its broad problem. Where there are Aboriginal communities struggling to recognize their ancestral lands, displaced communities that invade urban land (the so-called 'informality') or land disputes among other cases, and despite the generous initiatives, everything Seems to indicate that the advances occur very slowly and the stubbornness of precision insists on prioritizing urban areas.

As my Peruvian friend Nan says,Deep down we all tell the same story over and over again'. Not because we are geniuses, but because these things only obey the simplest common sense. It is curious that one of the authors of the article is Christian Lemmen, of which for that year 2009 I wrote that article "The data in the cadastre“, referring to what had been useful for us in Honduras since 2003 in the so-called “Core Cadastre Domain Model”, antecedent of what we know today as the “Land Administration Domain Model”. Although that version called Lemmen CCDM was modified when it came out as ISO 19152, the simplicity did not change, since three main figures of the model were discussed.

The LADM standard provides bonanzas that may not have been exploited for these purposes, however, there are raised aspects such as the fact that a plot seen as a model (not a map), can be raised by non-precise methods, and To be perfected over time through the control of attributes that define its quality, precision and relevance.

Fit for purpose: Synergy?

Before going on to summarize the experience in Kenya, I would like to draw attention to the opening sentence of the authors:

"Appropriate approaches to land management in Kenya have been tried, focusing on the provision of land titles that are inclusive for all in an affordable, fast and 'good enough' approach." Objective summarized could be written as: 'Provide property titles, involving all actors in the process in order to achieve a reliable and affordable result quickly.' How they did it becomes the reason for our present analysis.

The site chosen was Makueni County in Kenya, the test was carried out by the Kenyan survey institution, the National Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development in conjunction with the Ministry of Land, Mining and Physical Planning in the County Of Makueni, counting on a close collaboration with the suppliers of the software and hardware used for this purpose.
As a first important point we highlight the attention of the governmental entities towards the delegation of specialists (Kenyan Topographers and technical staff of Kadaster International) that was not only of protocol type but was characterized rather by a willingness to inquire about the need, Importance and implications of the project, which was reflected (in the words of the authors) in "intense discussions about the approach: participation, quality, costs, effectiveness of time, need for monuments, accuracy versus coverage , Etc. "They even add the interest of the National Minister of Lands and the follow-up that the Land Minister did.
Second important point. The participation of the whole community in the development of work. The authors do not hesitate to state: "The participation of the community is the basis for success." They add that, as the cadastral survey required the participation of neighbors, family members, etc., the elderly were informed in advance And villagers to "ensure the awareness and involvement of all parties"; Which indicates that the informational role fulfilled the objective of being understood since "Everyone was able to monitor the process in the field." And since the data collected was transmitted to the cloud-based GIS environment, anyone could follow the process , Creating a sort of 'remote participation'.

It became necessary to obtain an overview of the relationships between people and land, both formal and informal property, including here both possession and occupation of land. Claims and conflicts also had to be reflected, as it was crucial for the authorities to get an overview of the disputed space units or boundaries. This “dispute map” is the starting point for supporting dispute resolution procedures. Always keeping in mind the generation of a national approach model that can be supported by the surveying community.
In the case of territorial disputes, those involved need to 'agree' both in the disputed area and in their location. Since during the field adjudication process overlaps are created between the polygons generated, they are 'mapped' so that the corresponding authorities can know the exact location and the type of conflict that exists.

Public inspection as well as other usual procedures (often done at the local town hall) are usually carried out through village meetings in conjunction with trusted third parties. There, community members gather to see all the data collected on a map, discuss and reconcile the results. During the field test, the data presented were confirmed aloud by the community.

Fit for purpose: Technique?

The technology used

The design environment was based on an ESRI application for managing data collection. This was used in combination with a Trimble sub-metric precision GPS device, which used a Bluetooth connection. These were very convenient across the mountainous terrain due to their reduced weight. The handheld GPS device requires a signal to correct the atmospheric distortions of the GPS signals and the sub-meter accuracy became sufficient, so-in this case- no high-precision devices were required.
The purpose-adjustment approach recommended the use of “visual boundaries” to identify the delimitation of land rights. As there are many naturally visible boundaries in rural Kenya, the local people made some other boundaries visible using sisal plants. In this way all boundaries were easy to identify in the field and on satellite images. After being identified in the field, the visual boundaries were drawn using a pencil or by "digital drawing" using hand-held GPS devices on the images.

Data management

After field data collection, they should have been checked for integrity and prepared for subsequent public inspection. An edition was necessary to present the spatial data, mainly referring to the calculation of the average locations of the limits based on the contribution of the neighbor to each side of the limit.

The field procedure

Fieldwork consisted of creating an overview of all relationships between people and existing lands, including formal and informal land ownership as well as existing claims. Villagers and farmers were invited to traverse the perimeters of their plots and point the vertices of their own boundaries using a GPS antenna. A surveyor recorded observations using the application. The satellite images of the area were displayed on the GPS mobile device's screen. The data collection was done in an integrated way: the perimeter was stored as a closed polygon including the right type claimed to which was added a photograph of the owner or plaintiff as well as a photo of the identification card of the owner or the claimant. A preliminary identifier was used as the link key. Precision was not based on geometry, but rather focused on the linking of spatial and administrative data, ie on the linking of people with polygons. Since citizens were obliged to provide evidence of their identity, the government had to be represented on the ground. This was of paramount importance for the success of this methodology.

Fit for purpose: Disparate?

Field testing conducted in Makueni County showed that field data collection and data management can be carried out in an integrated, participatory, rapid, affordable and reliable manner. Two surveyors collected data on 40 plots in the space of six hours in a mountainous environment and the results were well received. However, the legal and institutional configuration requires attention to be able to apply the approach, and most participants agreed that it needs more attention in order for everyone to obtain their title deed.
In obtaining the overview of the plots requires a very reliable link to the right type and the owner. Therefore, it was considered the possibility of placing beacons and carry out very precise surveys later, during the maintenance phase, which can be done by the same people.
It is estimated that, at this time, approximately 20% of the land parcels in Kenya have been inspected (in one form or another) and are registered. The current cost of allocating, demarcating, inspecting, allocating and registering a two-hectare plot in Kenya is approximately a few hundred dollars per plot. In terms of total cost, it is clear that there is no availability given that the 15.000.000 average is estimated to be plots yet to be included in the registry.
Many issues remained to be discussed and established in the future. Among them is how to store and manage the integrated data. Do you use cadastral or register data subsets? Another issue is related to the maintenance of the data, should it be kept completely in digital format or should printed information be created? An alternative may be to leave a hard copy of the satellite image to be stored by the local community.


Undoubtedly it is clear that this trend will be promoted to accelerate the measurement of the rights of those who have been deferred. Synergy, irrefutable; in that combination that technology and the intrinsic geolocation of society are offering. Practice will certainly develop methodologies that will put traditional unbelievers to shame, using FLOSSOLA-like applications on mobile devices as precision and differential correction become more democratic. Only time, adoption of standards and humility in the face of stumbling can prove that it is not nonsense.

I suggest being aware of what happens in Colombia, with the Multipurpose Cadastre pilots. Where the combination of LADM, fit for purpose, INTERLIS and open-mindedness could be the ingredients of a geofumada with a flavor that Europeans do not know, since their needs regarding land tenure are totally different from those of our context of countries in development pathways, or as the commander puts it: under-managed.

Golgi Alvarez

Writer, researcher, specialist in Land Management Models. He has participated in the conceptualization and implementation of models such as: National Property Administration System SINAP in Honduras, Management Model of Joint Municipalities in Honduras, Integrated Cadastre-Registry Management Model in Nicaragua, Territory Administration System SAT in Colombia . Editor of the Geofumadas knowledge blog since 2007 and creator of the AulaGEO Academy that includes more than 100 courses on GIS - CAD - BIM - Digital Twins topics.

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