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Computerising County Land Offices PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 30 June 2000

In 2000, the Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Development (MARD) will start the implementation of a GIS project, which is partly financed by the PHARE programme and the Hungarian government. The overall objective of this project is to strengthen the land office network in order to cope with the challenges of the reinforcement of market economy through creating conditions for the development of land and real estate and the adoption of the relevant EU standards. The proposed project „META” is the last phase of the so-called TAKAROS technical conception and essential part of the approved strategy of the MARD on land management sector.

Computerisation of County Land Offices in Hungary 

Piroska Zalaba1, Ádám Podolcsák2
1Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Development, Hungary
2Compet-Terra Bt.

6. EC-GIS Workshop: “Spatial information society – Shaping the future”
28-30 June 2000, Lyon, France

The overall TAKAROS concept (Countrywide Computerisation of Map Based Cadastre) was gradually developed. META is the final step of the overall TAKAROS development. The project is focused on IT development. META aims to develop a well-functioning GIS solution for the county land offices, to create the conditions of marketing LIS (Land Information System) data managed by the land office sector and backstopping to the TAKAROS District Land Office system. Besides, META will introduce a Management Information System (MIS) for the sector, and provide a widely distributed GIS data processing ability to support the adoption of EU CAP. Furthermore, it promotes the land office network to become self-financing. To achieve these aims, a strong IT system will be procured to the county land offices. The system will be developed in accordance with the following main requirements:

  • Multipurpose electronic archive sub-system
  • Back-end data processing to support the external data processing at lower level land offices
  • Data model independent data processing facility
  • Handling maps and land-related data via TAKARNET
  • Providing management information to support land office managers
  • Enforcement of EU promoted GI standards in Hungary

The paper presents the most important technical features of the META system. The presentation is based on the existing technical concept and specification of META.

1. The role of the META project within the strategy of MARD DLM

META is the final step of the TAKAROS development and essential part of the approved strategy of the MARD on land management sector. The overall TAKAROS (Térkép Alapú KAtaszteri Rendszer Országos Számítógépesítése – Countrywide Computerisation of Map Based Cadastre) concept covers the computerisation of the entire land office network. (A more detailed description can be found in the proceedings of the 5th EC-GIS Workshop, 1999 under the title of  P. Zalaba – Á. Podolcsák: Managing GIS projects under Phare rules).

The TAKAROS IT concept defined two different levels of the land office computerisation, as a consequence of the different roles and functions of the district land offices (DLO) and county land offices (CLO). The district land offices mean the operative level of the land administration, where the entire workflow is legally defined. The TAKAROS-DLO is a workflow driven land administration system including LIS features as well, like checking sketch maps, applications for registration of land titles, and updating maps and legal data. The  county land offices are the management and business level of the land management sector. The TAKAROS-CLO system, the so-called META (MEgyei TAKAROS) will provide the necessary IT resources for the maintenance of the DLO databases, support the production of value added services and introduces a Management Information System (MIS) for the land administration. META will be the gateway for the multipurpose nation-wide Land Information Service to be introduced after the completion.

META enables CLO to provide technical support to DLO such as help desk and background data processing, and completes the missing interfaces of the overall TAKAROS system. In order to increase the income of the land offices, META provides comprehensive GIS functionality for prototyping and manufacturing GI data products. The general objective of this project is to strengthen the land office network in order to cope with the challenges of the reinforcement of market economy through creating conditions for the development of land and real estate and the adoption of the relevant EU standards.

Major strategy results to be achieved:

  • Increasing the reliability and safety of the DLO by technical support, archiving and being able to replace any DLO in case of disaster
  • Supporting the development of the land mortgage system
  • Increasing potential income by introducing new GIS data products and land office services
  • Supporting the local authorities by providing access to land office GIS data sets
  • Raising the national IT level of awareness and application by encouraging technical developments built upon the new services of the sectors
  • Supporting national mapping activities by providing digital cadastral maps. Quality controlling and accepting data for the generation of TAKAROS DLO data sets with replacement map data
  • Supporting the EU membership by providing land use and land qualification monitoring features
  • Stimulating the land market by providing thematic maps and support for land qualification and valuation
  • Supporting the land taxation by creating thematic GIS data sets and making them available via Intranet

2. Profile of the system to be developed

The IT strategy defines the META system and the general requirements on national and institutional level. The technical profile of the system is described in the project specification. In the followings the functional requirements, technical aims and the structure of technical tools are presented.

2.1 Structure of functions
The most important group of functions are the following:

Group of Functions No 1: Multipurpose electronic archive sub-system at the CLO level
There are several data sets and programme codes to be archived e.g. all the historical DLO data, the CLO generated value-added data products, code tables, report files, earlier and current software versions etc. The archive sub-system is an integrated part of META.
The META Technical Specification considers the archive-subsystem as a core module of the system. All data inputs and outputs of META will be received and stored by the archive-subsystem. The Archive will handle all the object-classes, objects and their occurrence. The ISO and CEN defined conceptual schema language will be as the archive standard. The META interface to the Intranet and Internet is included in this module. The archive module will also manage the GI data transfer in accordance with the adopted international standards.

Group of Functions No 2: Back-end data processing at CLO level to support the DLOs
By its nature, TAKAROS-DLO must not manipulate data under the application level. However, there are certain cases when managing data out of programmed applications is unavoidable e.g. repairing hidden topological errors, modifying code tables, moving data of a settlement from one DLO to another DLO, changing the stored area after having resurveyed a settlement, etc. These are the so-called “technical interactions” of the land offices.
In accordance with the Technical Specification, low-level data manipulation, will be undertaken in the META system using a copy of the particular DLO data to be manipulated. META will generate high level (application level) update files for TAKAROS-DLO. The files will be imported, as registered applications will be imported into the application registration sub-system of the TAKAROS-DLO. These data can be further-processed within the strict workflow driven data processing system.

Group of Functions No 3: Manufacturing of GI data products
It means a data model independent, data processing facility at CLO level. The CLO network is the planned backbone of the national land and geo-related data service structure. Land office data, both existing and derived thematic data will be provided to the Geographic Information (GI) data users by this network. The land office network will also be capable of importing external spatial data e.g. statistics, creating value-added data associations and transferring them to end-users. The data model of all the data files to be processed can not be known in advance, however, they must be self-descriptive files.
The Technical Specification describes the requirements of a system, which can manage spatial objects and their classes through their conceptual schema description. The conceptual schema description must be written in a language, which is supported by CEN/TC 287 (or alternatively ISO/TC 211).

Group of Functions No 4: Wide-range distribution of data products
The land office network will be the dominant player of the Hungarian geoinformation sector, because it will be responsible for the maintenance and distribution of different geo-related data sets,. The MARD DLM co-operates with other national level organisations (e.g. Military Mapping, Geophysical Agency) in creating common data associations and data distribution. In order to inter-operate with several external GI systems the META GI system will, therefore be built on open system standards.
The system includes a freeware application (for any commonly used operating system), which will enable map objects, object classes and attributes to be transferred between two different data modules and data to be transferred between two different GI systems. In this way the land office data products can be used more widely and easily.

Group of Functions No 5: Establishing services and data products onto Internet
The concept of TAKARNET – the intranet wide area network of land offices –  has been well received by the potential, external user community. The existing web based applications focus on the DLO provided services, like copy of property sheets and cadastral maps etc. The users connect to the central access point of the network and their applications are transferred to the TAKAROS-DLO of the relevant district land office, which enables some legally defined data services. TAKARNET is available for registered users also via Internet. Besides, there is a need for remote interaction also with cadastral maps or their copies at the CLO level e.g. for presenting the ongoing cadastral mapping update. In addition a map server will be a useful media for promoting value-added data products of the land office network.
The Technical Specification includes the provision of a map server, which can present graphical and associated data via Internet or intranet. The map server will be an integrated part of TAKARNET at the same secure level.

Group of Functions No 6: Supporting land office managers
The DLOs report operationally, administratively and technically to the CLOs. The CLOs also assist DLOs with solving special administrative and technical issues, and managing national projects. The management deals mostly with spatial information. The location of allocated resources is also very important. Volumes of activities are usually expressed in blocks, land units and area.
The Technical Specification requires the handling of management information to be carried out as for other data (for example GI). META will import data in accordance with the CEN/ TC 287 (or alternatively ISO/ TC 211) data transfer standards. The requested Management Information System will be a simple one and will be an integrated part of the entire GIS system.

2.2 Structure of system aims
The following aims should be achieved on the highest possible level to improve the level of project results:

Aim No 1: Applying EU promoted GI standards to META
In adopting standards the example of the land office system will be nation-wide followed, and with reference to the Council Decision 87/95 EEC, the system is to be based on de jure standards, such as ISO and CEN.
There are existing CEN pre-standards and almost finished ISO standards. By supporting “leading edge” GI projects the EC has identified the preferred de facto standards, having open specification for substituting missing de jure standards.

Aim No 2: Enforcing EU promoted GI standards in Hungary
Making partners and customers able to access data in standard way is of inevitable interest to the land office network. The land registration sector supported the development of the Hungarian version of the CEN/ TC 287 data transfer standards. The adoption of the ISO and CEN approach will enable a conceptual schema language for describing source and destination data models to be applied. The data will be entered into the destination database through mapping objects between different data models. In this way data originated by the land office network can smoothly replace and update data in external systems.
In this way the new standards will be promoted, and the system will become easier to use.

Aim No 3: IT Integration
The administrative, managerial, technical and cultural background makes CLOs the obvious choice to be the GIS centres of the land management sector. There are various activities be carried out to cope with, e.g. back-end data processing for the DLOs, creating value-added data, and importing data from external sources, etc. Some of the activities are predefined and workflow oriented, others are ad-hoc query based, and there will be prototyping of workflows of value-added data. It will make sense to provide a single IT platform and a single technical approach to integrate data processing into an integrated system.
The Technical Specification calls for the integration of the requested functionality at the highest possible level. The storage, input and output of data, and the journal of data processing, the use of GI standards (including object oriented data modelling language for data model independent processes) will be the same for all the applications. The applications are built on the same set of business level services (in line with the three tiers model).

Aim No 4: Interoperability between the DLO and CDLO
The district level software applications are workflow driven. Any inter-operation with them should be done through the local process controller sub-system. When the TAKAROS-DLO system and the separate, technically different system of the Capital District Land Office (CDLO) were designed there was no GIS standards ready, hence they have not got a standard interface.
The Specification calls for an API, which provides workflow-controlled access to district procedures and data. The DLO and CDLO objects, and data updates for example will need to be accessible via API in a form, which is in line with CEN/TC 287 (or alternatively ISO/TC 211). However an API is to be defined for more general purposes.

Aim No 5: Involvement of the internal technical support
The land office network has its own technical support system. FÖMI (institute of Geodesy, Cartography and Remote Sensing) is the centre of this activity. There are support centres at the CLO level, too. Software maintenance and software re-engineering takes place at FÖMI. FÖMI archives, updates all the software development documentation.
In line with the Phare standards, DLM will acquire all the necessary licences and know-how for handling software maintenance and continuing the system development. FÖMI will be involved in the software development in order to transfer all knowledge, which is required for assuring the reliable operation of and the renewal of the IT system.

Aim No 6: Supporting quality assurance of GI data files at the CLOs
The CLO is a node of the national GI infrastructure. The CLOs are taking part in several data acquisition projects. It is inevitable and necessary, therefore, that the CLOs must be able to run GI assurance procedures. The CLOs should be able to run software to check data files automatically. ISO/ TC 211 specifies the related procedures.
The Technical Specification calls for a system, which is capable of running acceptance tests. There are special requirements related to the Hungarian cadastral mapping. These are elaborated in the Technical Specification.

2.3  Zooming in the structure 

Figure 2-1 presents the META functional and aim structure. All group of functions are explained in details in the project specification. As an example, Figure 2-2 presents a more detailed description of “Group of Functions No 2: Back-end data processing at CLO level to support the DLOs”.

Figure 2-1: Structure of functions and the aims of the META project

Figure 2-2: Structure of functions and aims of
Back-end data processing at CLO level to support the DLOs


Figure 2-2 introduces a new phrase, HUNEX. From technical point of view, it is a core element of the system. The CEN elaborated data exchange is usually referred as CENEX. In line with that HUNEX is introduced for META supported data exchange mechanism and tools of model description, encoding mechanism, etc. Bridging the gap between ISO and CEN approaches HUNEX is more general. HUNEX is expected to equally support data transfer and distributed data maintenance.  

Figure 2-3: HUNEX options

A HUNEX is to be composed fromstandard CEN and ISO element to support the following:

Definition of data products

CLOs create their products using electronic data processing systems. Each of them has a data model. It is logical to describe this application schema in HUNEX supported language. In this way, not only the syntactical checking of the definition but, the development and use of the products will be supported by META.

Off-line data transfer (Input / Output)

Transferring data needs HUNEX data modelling language written application schemas. Both the source and the destination systems must be described. It is of primary importance that all of the computerised land office data be portable. Hence, their HUNEX data modelling language written application schemas must be elaborated. Using a data set from an external source needs its HUNEX data modelling language description and HUNEX encoded representation. Management Information will be imported from external stand-alone systems using the HUNEX data transfer approach.

Programming interface (API)

META asks for a solution to integrate TAKAROS-DLO and to harmonise the DLO and CDLO systems. They will be covered with a standard API. It will provide a set of routines to develop software application quasi-independently of the hidden IT systems.

In line with the CEN and Hungarian standards, each data model of the entire TAKAROS system must be described in an application schema written in the HUNEX data modelling language and the HUNEX encoding mechanism must be part of TAKAROS. The API of TAKAROS must support the HUNEX data modelling language describing the data model and its objects.

Definition of managed data models

The CLO archives and catalogues a vast number of different data sets. Defined data models make GIS operations easier because object features define the practicable operators and the way of managing attributes of objects.

This way of comprehensively adopting the HUNEX approach leads to a general GIS system, which is object oriented and data model independent in data processing.

HUNEX is the common base of the data transfer. In this way the:

  • TAKAROS solution is system and supplier independent;
  • Modularity of TAKAROS is stronger
  • There is only one single but comprehensive and scaleable interface for file transfer;
  • Linkage to other GIS systems is clear;
  • Adoption of these EC enforced standards is enforced.

2.5 Structure of technical tools of the project

Technical tools include the planned set of functions and the aimed features. They can be tangible or intangible goods e.g. computers or training services. Figure 2-4, as an example shows the structure of technical tools for the “Group of Functions No 2: Back-end data processing at CLO level to support the DLOs”.

Figure 2-4: Structure of technical tools for
Back-end data processing at CLO level to support the DLOs

3. Implementation of the project 

The way of implementation is shaped by the technical profile of META and all the institutional circumstances. The technical aspects of META are manageable, but the Phare and the National Budgeting are less predictable and have more risks.

3.1 Project structure

The project consists of twelve inter-related sub-projects. Phare finances three components, the smaller ones are financed by the Hungarian Government. This structure shows the complexity of the entire META project.

Phare contribution will enhance the modernisation of the land office network in order to cope with the challenges of reinforcing the market economy and the adoption of EU standards – especially on the adaptation of Common Agricultural Policy. MARD DLM will fund about 25% of the total project costs. Other local co-financing contributions will cover local technical expertise and management.

3.2 Time schedule

As a result of the Phare administration the project is already in delay. The next table shows the current and rescheduled version of timing. 




1. Technical assistance for project implementation (PHARE)



2. Service tender for software development (PHARE)



3. Supply of standard IT goods (PHARE)



4. Data security



5. Internal project management structure



6. Increasing the capacity of WAN (at the access points)



7. Procurement of initial data set of META



8. Training



9. Increasing the capacity of WAN (at the node points)



10. SW installation and county-wide roll out



11. SW upgrade and support



12. Configuration management



3.3 Project management structure

META will be an integrated and complex GIS system, and as such is more difficult to design and develop than a normal office system for example. The system integration will require strong and careful management. Failure to provide this could result in delays with the implementation of the project.

The county land offices are co-ordinated by MARD DLM. There is an overall Project Director at DLM. He is a high-level decision-maker, controls the entire Land Registration project through “specific” Project Managers who deal with related projects and are supported by executive assistants. META project has its own team. The user representatives involved and FÖMI employees report to the META Project Manager for the purposes of the project.

At county level the project is managed by a single person, who is usually the Electronic Data Processing (EDP) manager. He/she is part of the CLO staff and is fully informed about local managerial issues. It is his/her responsibility to inform the “special” manager concerning his/her project.

All projects at MARD DLM are managed in a form of matrix organisation where the hierarchical management has more importance than the project management. The only matrix point where the management of projects and the control of daily operations can conflict is at the CLO Project Management level. But because the CLO Project Manager is part of the CLO, and rules of for resolving conflicts and priorities are very clearly defined, any clash between operational responsibilities and project responsibilities is negated.

Figure 3-1: Managing projects within MARD DLM

4. Summary

META project serves the institutional strategy of MARD DLM. The overall objective of this project is to strengthen the land management sector in order to cope with the challenges of developing the market economy and supporting the adoption of the acquis communautaire as part of the accession to the EU process. The META system is the last step of the MARD DLM strategy, the TAKAROS approach. It will provide internal, technical support to the DLOs, a Management Information System concerning lands and operation of the land offices, and a widely distributed GIS data processing ability to support the adoption of IACS and the land office network in becoming self-financing. The project is focuses on generating cost recovery, making more reliable the existing data processing of the land office network, supporting management. The functionality of the project has six groups. The technical profile is a comprehensive GIS project, which must adopt the recently developed international GIS standards. META is a successor of the already completed projects, thus it is built on the existing project management structure. The EC and local level administration of Phare projects is still slow, hence the project is in delay.

Niklasz L. et al: Strategy of the Hungarian Land Administration, MARD, Budapest, 1998
Niklasz L., Remetey-Fülöpp G.: Modern Land Registration and Cadastre – Infrastructural Basis for GI Applications in Agriculture, Rural and Regional Developments, Proceedings of the 5th EC-GIC Workshop Stresa, pp. 113-123, June, 1999
Podolcsák Á., Zalaba P.:Managing GIS Projects under Phare Rules – Experiences of the Hungarian Land Registration Sector, Proceedings of the 5th EC-GIC Workshop Stresa, pp. 532-547, June, 1999
Podolcsák Á., Zalaba P. et al: Development of Land Registration at the County Level, Phare Tender Dossier, Budapest, 1999 December


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