Article of the Month -
Cadastral Futures: Building a New Vision for the Nature and Role of
Rohan BENNETT, Abbas RAJABIFARD, Mohsen KALANTARI, Jude WALLACE and Ian
This article in
.pdf-format (14 pages, 1,4 MB)
1) This paper has been selected to
the article of the month because of it is the background paper for the
special session on Cadastre 2034 at the FIG Working Week in Marrakech in
May 2011. This paper was originally presented at the FIG Congress in
Sydney in 2010. It was also a starting point for the special issue of
GIM International on future cadastres. Handouts of this presentation are
You can download the special issue of GIM International from the
here. It includes an interview with Hernando De Soto and the
series of articles Beyond Cadastre 2034.
Key words: Survey Accurate Cadastre,
Object-Oriented Cadastre, 3D Cadastre, Real-Time Cadastre, Global
Cadastre, Organic Cadastre
Over the last thirty years spatial information
technologies and sustainability theory drove the creation of new
visions, models and roles for the cadastre. Concepts including
multipurpose cadastres, Cadastre 2014, and sustainable land
administration radically altered understandings of the cadastre and its
potential. Many of these concepts continue to be relevant in the
contemporary context; however, like all disciplines, cadastral science
must continue to look to the future to remain relevant. This paper
begins this process and aims to provide preliminary insights into the
characteristics and potential role of future cadastres. A qualitative
research design based upon an exploratory case study underpins the
research. Factors including globalisation, population urbanization, good
governance, climate-change response, environmental management, 3D
visualization/analysis technologies, wireless sensor networks,
standardization, and interoperability are found to be driving
developments in the cadastral domain. Consequently, six design elements
of future cadastre emerge: Survey-Accurate Cadastres, Object-Oriented
Cadastres, 3D/4D Cadastres, Real-Time Cadastres, Global Cadastres, and
Organic Cadastres. Together, these elements provide a preliminary vision
for the role and nature of future cadastres: the elements can be seen as
likely characteristics of future cadastres. Collaborative research,
potentially through the FIG framework, would enable further development
of these design elements and would assist in defining the nature and
role of future cadastral systems.
In the final decades of 20th century cadastral systems
were revolutionized: spatial information technologies and sustainability
theory drove the creation of new visions, models and roles for the
cadastre. Innovative concepts and seminal documents including the
Multipurpose Cadastre (McLaughlin, 1975; Williamson, 1985), FIG
Statement on the Cadastre (FIG, 1995), The Bogor Declaration (FIG 1996),
The Bathurst Declaration (UN-FIG, 1999), Cadastre 2014 (Kaufmann and
Steudler, 1998), the Core Cadastral Domain Model (van Oosterom et al,
2006), and the Land Management Paradigm (Enemark et al, 2005) radically
altered understandings of the cadastre and its potential. Practical
implementations can now seen in the land administration systems of both
developed and developing countries.
To remain relevant cadastral science must continue to
look to the future: potential challenges and opportunities need
identification, analysis and response. Cadastral theories and models
developed over the previous thirty years (e.g. Multipurpose Cadastres,
Cadastre 2014 etc.) require reappraisal in the contemporary context.
Cadastres must continue to change to meet the challenges of poverty,
environmental protection, good governance and economic stability.
This paper aims to summarize recent developments and
provide preliminary insights into the characteristics and potential role
of future cadastres. The research design is first articulated followed
by a brief summary of developments in cadastral theories and models over
the last thirty years. Particular focus is given to their applicability
in current contexts. This analysis leads to a discussion of new
macro-environment drivers (e.g. economic issues) impacting on the nature
and role of future cadastres. The drivers are then used to propose the
characteristics of future cadastral systems. Six conceptual design
elements emerge and are discussed: Survey-Accurate Cadastres, 3D/4D
Cadastres, Real-Time Cadastres, Global Cadastres, Object-Oriented
Cadastres, and Organic Cadastres. The paper concludes by calling for
more collaborative research to be conducted into the nature and role of
future cadastral systems. The preliminary vision supplied here can be
used to initiate these disciplinary discussions.
2. RESEARCH DESIGN
A qualitative research method was utilized.
Specifically, an exploratory case study was devised (as distinct from
‘descriptive’ or ‘explanatory’ case studies). Exploratory case studies
discover new theories often after the completion of data collection
(Yin, 1993). In essence, they are used to develop hypotheses that are
more rigorously tested in later studies. This technique appeared highly
appropriate as the study aimed to generate hypotheses for the nature and
role of future cadastres.
As the study was not directed at any specific country,
state or jurisdiction a global perspective was utilized. Figure 1
illustrates the four main stages of the study. First, a review of
pre-existing global cadastral trends was undertaken. This enabled
current contexts and predicted trends to be understood. Second, future
societal scenarios were studied using the PESTLE methodology (Aguila,
1967; Turner, 2002). The year 2050 was used as an endpoint for these
macro-environment forecasts. Potential changes to political/legal,
economic, social, technological, and environmental were assessed. A
number of pre-existing scenario tools were used to guide the analysis
including the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios prepared by the UN’s
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the UNFPA’s State
of World Population reports (UNFPA, 2009). Third, outcomes from the
future scenarios were used to predict responses from governments, land
administrators, and cadastral scientists in relation to the nature and
role of future of cadastres. Finally, the potential responses were
organized into a discrete number of future cadastral trends. Further
validation of these predicted trends are required. Consequently, the
link between stage 1 and 4 is left incomplete.
Figure 1. The four main stages of
the research method
3. MODERN CADASTRAL THEORIES AND PRACTICE
Prior to modern information systems, cadastres primarily
served fiscal or juridical functions (Williamson et al, 2009). Fiscal
cadastres focused on taxation of land, while juridical cadastres focused
on protecting land rights and developing land markets. European
cadastres from the 16th and 17th century provide examples of the former.
Australian cadastres of the 19th century provide examples of the later.
Post 1970, rapid developments in information technologies and the push
for environmental, social and economic sustainability led to new
developments and applications for the cadastre. These are now discussed.
3.1 The Multipurpose Cadastre
Literature on multipurpose cadastres emerged in the
1970s and 1980s. Authors such as McLaughlin (1975) and Williamson (1985)
modernized, developed and promoted the multiple uses of the cadastre.
These works prompted substantial publications from the National Research
Council in the USA (NRC, 1980; NRC, 1982; NRC, 1983). Multipurpose
cadastres have more utility than juridical and fiscal cadastres. While
they contribute to the management of land tenure and land taxation, they
also underpin the important activities of land use planning, land
development, environmental management and wider social organization.
Countries such as Germany, Austria, much of Eastern and Central Europe
and parts of Scandinavia provided robust models of what the multipurpose
cadastre would look like: they exhibited multipurpose characteristics
prior to the modern literature. By the late twentieth century the use of
multipurpose cadastres, based on these European experiences, was
considered ‘best practice’ and underpinned many other theoretical
developments in cadastral science (FIG, 1995; Dale and McLaughlin 1999;
Kaufmann and Steudler, 1998). This overarching concept still underpins
cadastral and SDI developments in most developed countries. Moreover,
developing countries implementing cadastres are well placed to take
advantage of the multipurpose concept.
3.2 Land Administration and Sustainable Development
During the 1990s the potential of the cadastre to
support sustainable development was articulated in The Bogor Declaration
(FIG, 1996) and The Bathurst Declaration (UN-FIG, 1999). The Bogor
Declaration responded to Agenda 21 (UN, 1992) and revealed the
cadastre’s role in combating poverty and environmental decline. The
Bathurst Declaration helped promote the multi-disciplinary term ‘Land
Administration’ and articulated the link between good land management
and the cadastre: the cadastre enabled good land management by providing
reliable and usable land information. These documents continue to
underpin developments in the Land Administration domain, particularly in
developing countries. Enemark et al (2005) built upon the framework with
the Land Management Paradigm. The paradigm revealed the link between a
country’s land policies, land administration functions, information
infrastructures and the achievement of sustainable development. More
recently, the cadastre’s role in climate change responses has received
attention. Bennett (2007) outlined the potential of cadastral systems to
organize new property interests including carbon credits and unbundled
water rights. Van der Molen (2009) also articulated the important role
the cadastre can play in organizing responses to climate change. The
cadastre is now inextricably linked with the world’s most pressing
concerns: sustainability and climate-change.
3.3 Cadastre 2014
In the 1990s the technical future of the cadastre was
also explored. Cadastre 2014 provided a blueprint for the next two
decades of technical advancements (Kaufmann and Steudler, 1998). The
document centred on six statements. Statement 1 dealt with emerging
property rights, restrictions and responsibilities and the need to
manage them within the cadastral framework. Much theoretical work was
undertaken in this realm with the development of the Property Object
Model and the RRR Toolbox (Ting, 2002; Bennett et al, 2007; Bennett et
Statement 3 closely related to Statement 1. It deals
with the evolution from Cadastral Mapping to Cadastral Modelling. The
modelling process enables Statement 1 to be realized. Technical designs
including the Core Cadastral Domain Model (c.f. Social Tenure Domain
Model, Land Administration Domain Model) are also emerging in relation
to Statement 3 (Oosterom, van, et al, 2006; Kalantari et al, 2008).
These are object-oriented models for organizing property interests
within a cadastral system. The models are inherently flexible.
Adaptability is highlighted by developments in modelling social tenures
through the work of the Global Land Tools Network (GLTN). Whilst some
implementations are now evident in Western Australia and The
Netherlands, all countries are still dealing with the legal complexities
relating to integrated management of property interests.
Other Cadastre 2014 statements included: the abolition
of the separation between maps and registers (Statement 2); the
abolition of pencil and paper cadastres (Statement 4); a move towards
privatising elements of the cadastre (Statement 5); and the requirement
for the cadastre to be cost recovering (Statement 6). Pencil and paper
cadastres are now extinct in all developed economies; however, the other
statements are more contentious. Many jurisdictions moved to remove
institutional barriers between maps and registers; however, political
inertia and embedded government silos meant this separation often
continues. Moreover, a country’s context determines how privatised the
cadastre becomes: many countries continue to run highly public
Cadastre 2014 has been an extremely useful document for
generalizing technical developments for the cadastre in the contemporary
context. However, as 2014 approaches, cadastral manages need to plan for
3.4 SDI and the Butterfly
The 1990s and 2000s saw an explosion in SDI theory and
implementation. The nature, implementation and evaluation of SDIs were
thoroughly researched. The ‘Spatially Enabled Society’ concept emerged
to articulate how spatial technologies would drive the organization of
societies and their information.
SDI science impacted greatly on the cadastre. The
cadastre underpinned SDI and spatially enabled societies. Land parcels
are the fundamental spatial unit upon which people and governments
organize their activities and how a country’s land is understood,
whether they are based on formal legal tenures or informal social
tenures. The ‘Butterfly Diagram’ exemplifies the relationship
(Williamson et al, 2009). It consolidates contemporary cadastral
theories emerging over the previous thirty years: Multipurpose
Cadastres, The Cadastral Concept, Bathurst and Bogor Declarations,
Cadastre 2014 (elements of) and The Land Management Paradigm are
integrated in a single model. The butterfly diagram neatly articulates
current thinking on the nature and role of the cadastre by showing how
the parcel layer provides the essential connection between land
administration functions, land information and the implementation of
policies to deliver sustainable development. However, the diagram does
not consider the cadastre’s technical makeup or future drivers. This
paper now intends to consider these future drivers.
4. CONTEMPORARY DRIVERS FOR THE CADASTRE
Contemporary and predicted macro-environment drivers
impacting on the cadastre were analysed using the PESTLE methodology
(Aguilar, 1967; Turner, 2002). A number of scenarios tools were used to
guide the analysis (e.g. IPCC Emissions Scenarios, UNFPA’s State of
World Population 2009). It should be noted that the consequences for the
cadastre of these drivers is discussed in subsequent sections.
4.1 Political and Legal Drivers
Good governance is now accepted as the fourth, and
perhaps most essential, pillar in the sustainability equation. The need
for good governance is best exemplified in the recent financial crisis
originating in the United States: lack of regulation and organized
information led to poor risk management and decision making, ultimately
resulting in the collapse of the property and credit markets. The
interconnectivity of world banking and financial systems extended the
failures to the global context. These experiences leave a clear message:
a well-organized layer of parcel information in a national SDI is needed
to provide immediate and accurate information about land based
activities. The cadastre is thus an important tool in providing good
governance: the parcel layer acts as conduit by delivering social,
economic and environmental information to decision makers. While the
underlying role of the cadastre will continue to be tenure organization
and taxation, there will be more demand for the delivery of information
for decision-making, particularly in relation to sustainable
development, climate change and emergency management (UN-FIG, 1999;
Williamson et al, 2009). There will be pressure to improve the spatial
accuracy of DCDBs and the speed at which they are updated.
4.2 Environmental Drivers
Climate change scientists predict more severe and more
frequent extreme weather events in the coming decades. Australia’s
severe bushfire events in February 2009 provide a pertinent example: 173
lives were lost, more than 600 people were injured, 2200 houses were
destroyed and 1.1M hectares were burnt. This represents Australia’s
worst natural disaster. These experiences are common in large scale
disasters, whether they are earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, hurricanes
or fires. The need to prepare environments and quickly respond in severe
scenarios will become an increasing focus for governments. Spatial
information, particularly the cadastre, will be involved in preparation,
response and recovery phases. For example, the cadastre could provide a
framework for understanding and preparing for the impact of predicted
sea level rises. Survey-accuracy and the inclusion of the third
dimension (height) into all cadastres will be essential (Stoter et al,
2003). Moreover, the need for standards for integrating natural
environment data with the cadastre will also be important. If such rises
occur the cadastre will be used to organize infrastructure responses
(e.g. levies) and the relocation of people.
4.3 Technological Drivers
As in the previous thirty years, technological solutions
will continue to offer new ways of organizing and utilizing cadastral
information. Coordinates and 64bit processing will enable all DCDBs to
be migrated to survey accuracy. New 3D visualization and analysis tools
will continue to emerge: unlike previous examples focused on presenting
static 3D models (e.g. early versions of Google Earth), the new
platforms will enable real-time and predictive analysis of phenomena and
events. Utility networks, people movements, traffic surges, social
interactions and environmental flows will be captured, visualized and
analysed by decision makers in real-time. Wirless Sensor Networks (WSNs)
will potentially enable property interest information to be captured
remotely in the field and fed directly into land administration systems
(Bennett et al, 2009). The cadastre will continue to be an important
component of these analytical systems: real-time accuracy, 3D property
interests and interoperability through standardization of the cadastral
domain will be essential. Human capacity to use these technologies will
continue to increase: emerging generations expect high levels of
interaction with technologies and the ability to contribute data.
Spatial will no longer be special: it is will be ubiquitous and
4.4 Social-Economic Drivers
The urbanization of the population will be the greatest
socio-economic trend over the next thirty years in both developed and
developing counties (UNFPA, 2009). Management of these mega-cities will
present massive challenges to governments. The cadastre needs to be
reorganized: a shift away from discrete land parcels to integrated
networks of property objects will be necessary to handle the complexity.
Globalisation will continue to be a significant economic
force on most economies. Demand for better global land market
information will increase. Events such as the US sub-prime mortgage
collapse will spur the demand: the role of land in underpinning share
markets and financial institutions was made patently clear to investors.
Cadastres are the tool for delivering the required certainty, however,
they have been largely passed over in the race to build new commodities
out of land. Balance must be restored: the cadastre must reassume the
role of securing all interests in land. This can include mortgage-backed
securities and other complex commodities. Integration between cadastres
and with financial and share markets appears a real possibility.
5. FUTURE CADASTRES
Based on the macro-environment drivers discussed,
potential characteristics of future cadastres are now summarized. These
include survey-accuracy, object-oriented design, 3D/4D arrangements,
real-time information, global linkages and organic characteristics. The
characteristics are discussed in the order of their potential
5.1 Survey-Accurate Cadastres
Whilst earlier paper-based cadastral maps exhibited
survey-accuracy (sub-centimetre accuracy), many modern DCDBs do not
(Figure 2): crude digitisation of paper-maps resulted in large errors in
these databases during the 1980s and 1990s. Many applications of the
cadastre will require survey accuracy: building management, utility
administration, infrastructure organization, precision farming, some
navigation applications and sea-level rise response all require such
accuracy. Moreover, not only will ownership parcels need
survey-accuracy, the hundreds of new property objects require
measurement and representation (Bennett et al, 2007). Only
survey-accuracy will enable the complex layering of property interests
to be accurately understood. Those countries and states equipped with
survey-accurate cadastres are far better placed to manage these new
Figure 2. Cadastres will be
survey accurate: virtual representations must match reality
The concept of survey-accurate cadastres is not new: a
good amount of literature already exists (c.f. Buyong et al, 1991;
Elfick, 1995; Spaziani, 2002; Fradkin and Doytsher, 2002; Rowe, 2003).
Currently, the majority derives from New Zealand, Malaysian, Israeli and
Australian experiences: an audit of other jurisdictions appears
In recent times the desire for survey-accuracy has been
described informally as a pre-occupation of uncertainty-averse
surveyors: fitness for purpose would be a better goal. Whilst this could
be considered true, a survey-accurate cadastre will presumably fit all
purposes and will therefore continue to be an ongoing aspiration,
particularly as the costs and expertise required for implementation of
5.2 Object-Oriented Cadastres
The proliferation of new property rights, restrictions
and responsibilities will force a shift in focus from land parcels to
property objects. Parcels will continue to be an important people-land
organization tool, however, many new interests exhibit vastly different
spatial footprints (Figure 3). Already, much theoretical work has been
undertaken in this realm: the core cadastral domain model provides an
example using the UML object-oriented language (Oosterom, van, et al,
2006; Kalantari et al, 2008). Practical implementation will require
large investment and potentially dramatic re-engineering of existing
cadastral systems and processes.
Figure 3. Not all property
interests fit comfortably in the parcel framework: object-oriented
design is required
5.3 3D/4D Cadastres
Incorporating height and time into cadastral frameworks
will be essential: management of vertical villages, proliferation of
property interests and sustainability analysis require modelling and
visualisation of the third and fourth dimensions (Figure 4).
Technological advancements will enable traditional 2D cadastres to be
extended to the new dimensions. Administrative friction caused by
misinformation and poor understandings of property interests will be
dramatically reduced. Consequently, planning and development times will
be greatly reduced. Already, preliminary work has been undertaken to
understanding the legal, policy and technical barriers to implementing
3D/4D cadastres (Stoter et al, 2003; Coors, 2002; Billen et al, 2003;
Lemmen et al, 2003; van der Molen, 2003; Oosterom et al, 2006; Oosterom
et al, 2006a). This important preliminary work will result in technical
implementations into the future.
Figure 4. 2D approaches do not
enable the complete legal situation on land to be easily understood: 3D
and 4D cadastres will mitigate administrative friction and improve
5.4 Real-Time Cadastres
Future cadastres will be updated and accessed in
real-time. Emergency management, property market management and
navigation tools require cadastral information to exhibit this quality.
Currently, cadastral and owner information update processes may take
weeks or months. However, soon technology will enable surveyors to
measure and update the cadastre in the field in real-time. Robust
checking processes will continue to ensure the integrity of the
cadastre. Utility companies already achieve real-time updates across
their networks: mobile computers and GPS units enable field parties to
update infrastructure information in the field. To date, minimal
literature on real-time cadastres exists, however, research into marine
environment management systems will provide initial clues: these systems
already model extremely dynamic environments (c.f. Rajabifard et al,
2005; Wallace and Williamson, 2006).
5.5 Global Cadastres
Future cadastres will have the capacity to link into
regional and global cadastral networks. Globalisation of economic
systems and land markets (through mortgage backed certificates and other
complex commodities) requires global systems of management. For example,
the lack of accurate and timely information relating to the US property
market ultimately lead to international investors purchasing toxic US
property assets: clear information on the mortgage practices in the US
was not available until it was too late. Interoperable cadastral systems
appear to offer a method for integrating and better understanding the
relationship between land markets (Figure 5). Like international share
trading, high integrity information will be essential for organizing
investments in foreign land markets. Already regional linkages between
states, countries and other jurisdictions are emerging (c.f. Wallace et
al, 2006). An example is ‘Cadlite,’ a cadastral product of the Public
Sector Mapping Agencies (PSMA Australia). It provides an aggregated
model of Australia’s state based cadastres. Moreover, technical
standardization such as the core cadastral domain model (Oosterom et al,
2006) and Australia’s ePlan (Kalantari et al, 2009) will enable easier
interoperability between systems into the future.
Figure 5. Cadastral systems will
become interoperable allowing management of economic and environmental
concerns at regional and international level
Environmental management also requires integration of
cadastral systems at regional and global levels: environmental problems
and concerns are often spread over multiple jurisdictions. The
management of the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia provides a pertinent
example. Already the European Union is working on standardizing the
cadastral domain to enable integration in the medium term (Martin-Vares
and Salzmann, 2009). The Asia-Pacific region, through PCGIAP, has also
conducted preliminary work on the concept. The Land Administration
Domain Model provides a potential technical solution.
5.6 Organic Cadastres
Cadastres will better model the organic natural
environment (Figure 6). Many new property interests are designed around
natural phenomena, rather than the strict bearings and distances or
Cartesian coordinates found in traditional land parcels (Bennett et al,
2007). For example, many interests in the marine environments exhibit
fuzzy and changeable boundaries. Moreover, legal controls protecting
flora and fauna or the land interests of indigenous communities (such as
those found in developing countries) are often vague and require new
tools for representation and management (Bennett et al, 2009). Ambient
Spatial Intelligence achieved through the use of Wireless Sensor
Networks (WSNs) will enable the continuous movement of these boundaries
to be measurement and presented visually in real-time within the
cadastral framework (Duckham and Bennett, 2009).
Figure 6. Future cadastres will
better model the organic natural environment
Spatial information technologies and sustainability
theory drove the creation of new visions, models and roles for the
cadastre across the previous thirty years. They radically altered
understandings of the cadastre and its potential. Many of these concepts
continue to be relevant in the contemporary context, however, cadastral
science must continue to look to the future: potential challenges and
opportunities need identification, analysis and response. This paper
aimed to begin the analysis and provide preliminary insights into the
characteristics and potential role of future cadastres.
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, Real-Time Cadastres, Global Cadastres, and Organic
Cadastres. Together, these elements provide a potential vision for the
role and nature of future cadastres. While much theoretical work has
already been commenced on a number of the elements, much work is still
required. Collaborative research, potentially through the FIG framework,
would enable further development of the design concepts and assist in
defining the nature and role of future cadastral systems.
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Rohan Bennett currently works as a Research
Fellow for the Centre for SDI and Land Administration, Department of
Geomatics, The University of Melbourne. He is working an ARC project
entitled ‘Building a National Land Administration Infrastructure’. The
research aims to build a framework for integrating Australia’s disparate
land administration systems. Rohan completed a PhD with the Department
in 2007 on Property Objects. The work has been published in Survey
Review and Land Use Policy. In 2008 and 2009 he assisted with the
implementation of the new Melbourne Model degree structure. He has
tutored and lectured in a range of subjects including: Professional and
Business Studies, Land Administration, Mapping Environments, and
Surveying for Engineers. Rohan has worked as a cadastral survey
assistant and engineering survey assistant and is also a Young
Ambassador for the FIG2010 Conference in Sydney.
Centre for SDI and Land Administration, Department of Geomatics, The
University of Melbourne
Tel. + 61 3 8344 9692