Best Practices 3D Cadastres

3D Cadastre Joint Working Group Commission 3 and Commission 7


Editor: Peter van Oosterom


The  cover illustrations shows a screenshot of the prototype of a webbased 3D Cadastre dissemination system built on top of Google Earth. Looking from the South-East towards Kangaroo point (Brisbane, Queensland),
note the correspondences between the cadastral objects and the topographic
objects, 50 meters below.

This publication as a .pdf-file (72 pages - 2.3 Mb)


Over the last 15 years or so, a number of political, economic, environmental and social factors as well as the rapid technological innovation have profoundly changed the outlook for good management of land, the sea and especially the built environment. In this context, the issue of security of tenure and registration of property rights is recognized as an increasingly important component for eliminating poverty and achieving
sustainable development of land, real estate and property markets in all UN member states, particularly in urban areas.

In view of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 all UN member states are developing and modernizing their cadastre and land registration systems and in parallel formalizing their property markets. Present land administration systems and cadastres need re-engineering; they must continually evolve to cope with the ongoing megatrends, such as urbanization, demographic change, societal disparities, the digital transformation, volatile global economy, anthropogenic environmental damage and so on.

Much of the current research by the surveying profession in this field focuses on issues related to 3D geo-information, tools for data collection, cloud solutions, data management, optimizing processes and web-based information dissemination; standardization of 3D information, advanced modelling and visualization, as well as formalizing and building sustainable real estate markets as a pillar for robust economic urban growth; and related policies, legal and institutional aspects and knowledge sharing in operational experiences, the emerging challenges and the good practices. The significance of these areas of interest for the good management of land, the sea and especially the built environment is well understood.

It is mainly about people and their living in urban settlements. It is mainly about developing the “cities we want”, digitally networked and intelligent. And we, as geo-information professionals, vendors, providers, managers, professionals as well as academics and researchers, are expected to develop services and tools to deliver administrative, economic and social benefits. Our colleagues, representatives of business, academia and public administration; managers of geodata from all over the world; young entrepreneurs and creative minds; all are working toward the same goal, trying to increase the “value” of geodata for the people. They do so in order to get more benefit, more transparency, more safety, more environmental quality, more growth, more fairness, more efficiency in governance of urban areas, more smart cities.

No reality has a more direct bearing on the subject of 3 dimensional geo-information and cadaster than the growth of large cities, especially in the developing countries of the world, and especially in the phenomenon of the mega cities. For our young readers let me give some impressive information. A mega city is an urban area of 10 million population or more. The Economist “Pocket World in Figures” 2016 Edition, lists thirtythree mega cities of the world from Bangalore, India at ten point one million, thirtythird
on the list, to number one Tokyo at thirty-eight million. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that in 2014 fifty-four percent of the world’s people lived in urban areas, up from thirty-four percent in 1960. The tipping point, according to most authorities, occurred in 2007 when there were more urban dwellers than rural residents in the world: the so-called “urban millennium.”

The United Nations predict that by 2050 sixty-six percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas.
Much is being written about the growth of urban populations and the concurrent growth of urban infrastructures and institutions to support this huge growth of twothirds of the world’s people in the cities. Of all the institutions that must be developed to anticipate, keep abreast of and support this growth, the cadaster stands foremost in the interest of commerce, real estate investment, municipal revenue, and personal property security, not to mention urban planning and management.

As the cities grow they grow vertically as well as horizontally thereby introducing the element of the third dimension. Recent innovative thinking has introduced the concept of a multi-dimensional multipurpose land information system. It is a logical extension of the 3D cadaster concept,by adding the time dimension and the detail/scale dimension to the equation.In a discussion of “cost effectiveness” one must consider time, that 4th dimension that we speak of. In time, we are usually referring to land titles history and time-sharing
rights, or how the shape and size of land parcels and cadastral objects change over time, but it is also a matter of time-cost in the construction of the cadaster, as well as the time/property value relationship. As the great cities of the world become mega, the value of land and its improvements grow as well. Thus the time/value relationship and its impact on land administration and the need for continuing research on fundamental policy issues of technical administrative, legal and financial aspects of land administration.

This publication is a further contribution of FIG in this on-going process of improving land administration systems. It responds to the need for international research in building effective land administration infrastructures with modern information technology that will support the 2030 global policy goals for sustainable development. This study takes into account the recent developments that have taken place, and I hope that it will lead to a better understanding of the concept of a 3D cadaster.

Chryssy Potsiou FIG President (2015-2018)


At the end of the two most recent 4-year terms (2010-2014 and 2014-2018) of the joint commission 3 ‘Spatial Information Management’ and commission 7 ‘Cadastre and Land Management’ FIG Working Group on 3D Cadastres, it was decided to collect the best known practices in a single FIG publication. Key authors were invited to lead a chapter on one of the following topics:

  • Chapter 1. Legal foundations (Dimitrios Kitsakis),
  • Chapter 2. Initial Registration of 3D Parcels (Efi Dimopoulou),
  • Chapter 3. 3D Cadastral Information Modelling (Peter van Oosterom),
  • Chapter 4. 3D Spatial DBMS for 3D Cadastres (Karel Janečka), and
  • Chapter 5. Visualization and New Opportunities (Jacynthe Pouliot).

The mentioned lead authors have each teamed-up with a group of authors to produce their chapters. A lot of inspiration was found in the earlier 3D Cadastres activities of FIG, such as the various 3D Cadastres workshops, the two 3D Cadastres questionnaires, and the presentations and publications at the 3D Cadastres sessions at every FIG Working Week and Congress. The result is a quite extensive FIG publication of about 250 pages, which has been language checked by native English speakers. Based on the long version this shorter version was produced. The short version is available as FIG publication both in hard-copy (paper) and soft-copy (pdf online). The long version is published only in soft-copy form and in the style of the FIG proceedings.

The FIG publication ‘3D Cadastres Best Practices’ has quite a long history. Many 3D Cadastral activities have been conducted during the past two decades: six FIG 3D Cadastres workshops, sessions at FIG working weeks and congresses, three special issues in international scientific journals, several 4-year terms (2004-2008, 2010-2014 and 2014-2018) of the joint commission 3 and commission 7 FIG Working Group on 3D Cadastres, and two questionnaires (2010 and 2014). Closely related to these workshop are the special issues of international scientific journals. Three times the initiative was taken to invite selected authors, based on review of full workshop papers and presentations / discussions at the workshop, to submit a significantly extended / changed version to the special issue. After submitting, the paper has gone through the peer review process of the journal. This resulted in the following three special issues as indicated by their introductions/editorials:

  • Christiaan Lemmen and Peter van Oosterom (2002). 3D Cadastres, In: Computers,
    Environment and Urban Systems, 27, 337–343.
  • Peter van Oosterom (2013). Research and development in 3D Cadastres, In: Computers,
    Environment and Urban Systems, 40, 1-6.
  • Peter van Oosterom and Efi Dimopoulou (2018). Research and Development Progress
    in 3D Cadastral Systems. In: ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information,
    7(2), 5.

The first more concrete versions of texts towards the FIG publication ‘3D Cadastres Best Practices’ was in the form of four overview reports, each presented at the “5th International FIG Workshop on 3D Cadastres”, organized in Athens, Greece, 18–20 October 2016:

  1.  Dimitrios Kitsakis, Jesper Paasch, Jenny Paulsson, Gerhard Navratil, Nikola Vucic, Marcin Karabin, Andréa Flávia Tenório Carneiro and Mohamed El-Mekawy: 3D Real Property Legal Concepts and Cadastre: A Comparative Study of Selected Countries to Propose a Way Forward.
  2. 2. Efi Dimopoulou, Sudarshan Karki, Roic Miodrag, José-Paulo Duarte de Almeida, Charisse Griffith-Charles, Rod Thompson, Shen Ying and Peter van Oosterom:
    Initial Registration of 3D Parcels.
  3. Karel Janecka and Sudarshan Karki: 3D Data Management.
  4.  Jacynthe Pouliot, Frédéric Hubert, Chen Wang, Claire Ellul and Abbas Rajabifard:
    3D Cadastre Visualization: Recent Progress and Future Directions.

Discussions during and after the 2016 Workshop resulted in the decision to split Chapter 3 into two parts: one on information modelling and one on data management. The author teams were further reinforced and each produced a next version of their chapters, which were reviewed by colleagues from other author teams. These actions were conducted before the FIG Working Week, Helsinki, Finland, 29 May – 2 June 2017 and discussed at the working week by representatives of each of the chapters. The review comments were processed in the second half of 2017 by the authors teams and all chapters were proof read by native English speakers and finally edited to get an uniform style.

The FIG publication ‘3D Cadastres Best Practices’ hopes to provide a clear and comprehensive overview to both the newcomers and experts in the 3D Cadastres community. For sure this is just a snapshot of the current state and our knowledge must further evolve with the many challenges that are ahead of us, including the emerging mega-cities due to further urbanization. Many developments are ahead of us and to name just a few: revision of LADM (with potentially more detailed 3D spatial profiles), Marine Cadastre, deep integration of 3D space and time (4D Cadastre), new data acquisition techniques (including VGI), growing information infrastructure (of which Land Administration is a part), and new visualization and dissemination techniques (including VR and AR). Already, the next step of our on-going journey is planned: the 6th International FIG Workshop on 3D Cadastres, to be organized in Delft, The Netherlands, 2–4 October 2018. And also this time a special issue on 3D Cadastres is planned: to be published in Land Use Policy (2019 or 2020).

It was a great pleasure to be involved in the creation of the FIG publication ‘3D Cadastres Best Practices’. This was mainly due to the constructive and open collaborations of all involved. First of all I would like to thank the lead authors, the authors of chapters in the publication, but also the authors of papers at past FIG 3D Cadastres workshops and other FIG events, for their continuous contributions to the field of 3D Cadastres. Next, it is important to remember the hard work the reviewers (programme committees members) have put into all their constructive comments and adding many ideas and views to those of the original authors. Many, many thanks for this often rather invisible task.

Finally, I would like to thank Sudarshan Karki for the English proof reading of an incredible amount of pages and Dirk Dubbeling for the last checks and formatting to make sure the publication gets an uniform look and feel. Great teamwork, thanks for the many years of collaborations.

Prof Peter van Oosterom
Chair of the FIG 3D working group on 3D Cadastres

 Read the full FIG Publication 72 in pdf


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Copyright © The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG),  November 2018.

All rights reserved.

International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
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DK-1780 Copenhagen V
Tel. + 45 38 86 10 81

Published in English
Copenhagen, Denmark
ISSN 1018-6530 (printed)
ISSN 2311-8423 (pdf)
ISBN 978-87-92853-83-7 (printed)
ISBN 978-87-92853-84-4 (pdf)

Published by
International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
Layout: Lagarto


Best Practices 3D Cadastres
3D Cadastre Joint Working Group Commission 3 and Commission 7
Published in English
Published by The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), May 2018, Copenhagen, Denmark
ISSN 1018-6530 (printed)
ISSN 2311-8423 (pdf)
ISBN 978-87-92853-83-7 (printed)
ISBN 978-87-92853-84-4 (pdf)