FIG Peer Review Journal


Architecture for an Open Source Semantic Spatio-Temporal Land Administration Application (3260)

Geoff Hay and Brent Hall (New Zealand)
Mr. Geoff Hay
GIS Researcher
School of Surveying
University of Otago, Dunedin
New Zealand
310 Castle Street
New Zealand
Corresponding author Mr. Geoff Hay (email: geoff.hay[at], tel.: + 64 3 4738570)

[ abstract ] [ handouts ] [ handouts ]

Published on the web 2009-02-16
Received 2008-12-01 / Accepted 2009-02-16
This paper is one of selection of papers published for the FIG Working Week 2009 in Eilat, Israel and has undergone the FIG Peer Review Process.

FIG Working Week 2009
ISBN 978-87-90907-73-0 ISSN 2307-4086


This paper describes a free/libre open source (FLOSS) spatio-temporal land administration software tool for use in under-developed and developing nations. The application architecture defines an approach that addresses and improves upon a number of difficulties that affect existing models and approaches. These improvements include those associated with securing agreement on domain semantics and concepts; defining clearly what is included in and excluded from the proposed model; discovering and obtaining consensus on model objects across many jurisdictions; and resolving issues associated with translating real world situations into a computational model that is simple enough to implement, maintain and extend in a real-world situation where IT skills may be less accessible. The proposed implementation is also complete enough to be both robust and extensible from small applications to those processing many millions of land records. The architecture described in the paper externalises domain concepts (derived initially from the Land Administration Domain Model of Lemman and van Oosterom (2006; ISO, 2008)) in the form of a domain ontology using Semantic Web technologies. The approach facilitates greater machine understanding of terms and types which, in turn, allow a less constrained and more complete model of the real world to emerge. Cross-jurisdictional differences in semantics can be accommodated by the model, and data models can evolve over time. These processes do not require consensus on models, or cross-jurisdictional differences to be harmonised before compilation. Importantly, the architecture enables the emergence of domain understanding and harmonisation of more specific models as the software is configured and used. The architecture steers deliberately away from the traditional state-based approach to modelling temporal processes by defining an event-based approach that is capable of storing attribute level history. An initial prototype of this approach (Hay et al., 2008) is extended with the integration of a workflow engine that enables the construction of specific software implementations and the extension of the cadastral domain model into applications for other spatio-temporal phenomena.
Keywords: Standards; Cadastre; Land management; open source; semantic web; temporal database; relational data model; object-oriented