Technology drives evolution of land ownership info

Surveyor-general looking to develop a long-term strategy on how to manage land and property information

The growing importance of three dimensional information on location and ownership of land and property is one of the changes driving a need to upgrade the national cadastre – the body of accurate information on such matters.

Surveyor-general Don Grant has issued a discussion document towards a long-term (10 to 20-year) strategy for improvement in the fundamental cadastre, maintained under the authority of an Act of Parliament, and other cadastral databases maintained by local government and private companies.

Digital technology has long been indispensible to maintaining land records, but its increasing pervasiveness – alongside the government’s open-data push — will drive a need for improved cadastral information, says the report.

“The increasing quality and availability of technology in consumer mobile devices is expected to have a significant impact on the operation of the cadastre,” it says. “It is anticipated that accurate positioning will become available to everyone; [land and water] boundary information will be able to be delivered directly to the public; boundaries will be able to be visualised in a form that the layperson can readily understand and evidence relating to boundaries (fences, buildings, water boundaries, survey marks) will be increasingly captured in spatial databases and available to all.”

Boundaries, the exact location of which may be crucial to business and government decisions, have historically been invisible on the actual terrain, but with augmented reality technology available on mobile devices, they can be rendered visible, along with data on ownership and other essential characteristics.

“For those rights that are height limited, for example strata titles, there has previously been no standardised digital way of representing three-dimensional objects other than by traditional drawings of plans, sections and elevations,” the report says. However 3D representation of terrain and buildings in computer systems is now routine. “Users increasingly expect land and building developments and rights to be viewable in 3D perspectives.”

Moreover, rights to minerals below ground and to airspace and underwater space are increasingly regulated, creating further need for a three dimensional perspective on land and water ownership.

Rights, restrictions and responsibilities (RRR) – ‘what I am allowed to do where and whom I have to ask first?’ – are a key part of cadastral information, says the document.

To date, information accurate enough to be included in the fundamental cadastre has had to be gathered by specially qualified cadastral surveyors. The discussion document flags a possible loosening of this requirement and even use of crowdsourcing methods among the general population for data where absolute accuracy matters less.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) will shortly set up an online forum in the consultation section of its website for interested parties to provide feedback on the document and encourage further discussion on modernising the cadastre.

Responses are requested by November 30.

The full discussion document can be read at

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