Digitizing Land records

This article:- http://en.prothom-alo.com/opinion/news/103869/Digitising-land-records-to-unlock-opportunity talks about the benefits of digitization of land records. It makes claims like:-

Digitisation would also make it impossible for anyone to physically manipulate records, decreasing opportunities for officials to extract bribes and leading to fewer land disputes and court cases.

It is based on a [recent study] (http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/sites/default/files/rahman_talukder_land_digitization.pdf) by the Copenhagen Consensus Centre and BRAC Research and Evaluatioin Department:- The costs and benefits of Digitization of Land Records via Simplified Application Process.

Would love to hear everybody’s views on digitization of land records and the costs and benefits that it accrues!


Thanks for sharing Krithika! I definitely agree on the benefits of digitizing land records, and also that there can be major challenges in designing processes for digitizing and maintaining records - not a reason to not go digital, in my mind, but certainly reason to consider the design of digitized systems very carefully.

And it’s not only questions related to how to digitize and update existing records, but also how does a government ensure that their system has full coverage. For areas that have never been mapped out or registered, what is the best approach to collecting that data. These are some of the things we are tackling currently in the community land protection program in our mapping pilots - testing models of community-based creation of spatial data and how that can be fed into a government land information system.

Great stuff - all this on land records, mapping, cadasters, land information systems makes the idea of ‘para-surveyors’ quite attractive. Or as I discussed with @yeyinth today - maybe there are ways we can train and empower paralegals to better understand how surveying and cadastral systems work, as an extension of their legal skills into the more technical/administrative world of surveying and cadastral registration!

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Krithika - Thanks for sharing the article, I’d not seen it before. There is often talk of the benefits of digitizing land records, but I’d not seen it quantified this thoroughly

Digitization has become cheaper and easier in recent years as smart phones with camera and image enhancement tools have become more ubiquitous, however there are still challenges, particularly when dealing with historical records that need to be preserved and are often quite fragile. It’s also important to realize that converting to a digital file is often the easy part - interpreting and extracting the relevant data (the who, when, where and what) can be tremendously diffiicult when dealing with hand written documents in poor condition.

That said, once digitized and key information is indexed, it becomes much more difficult to manipulate the records, and the risk of theft or destruction decreases considerably assuming decent IT practices.

Once the digitizing and indexing occurs, it becomes much easier to identify duplicate transactions. If the spatial components of the records have also been digitized to create a digital cadaster, overlapping boundaries or poorly plotted surveys also become apparent. Then the real fun (and cost) comes in to play - resolving disputes, fixing errors etc.- not to mention working to ensure that the digital records become part of a living land information system that is being updated, as opposed to just a digital archive.

All of that said, digitization of property records is a crucial first step, and one that can be tackleed incrementally. However, it’s important to ensure their is a long term vision as to the role the records will play - which will inform how the records are captured, indexed, stored and prioritized in terms of digitization, etc.

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