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FIG FAO Seminar

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PCC Budapest, 2011

E-governance and cadastre PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 October 2006

E-governance and e-services need suitable, operable institutional network. The current professional trend is the integration: possibly one single institutional network coordinates the e-governance and its services. Some examples and experiences show that in those countries where the establishment and operation of the e-governance has reached an advanced level, the Cadastre, the Mapping Authority or the Uniform Land Registration System and their networks are responsible for the coordination and operation of e-governance, administration and services.

         E-governance and the role of cadastre, land registration
and land management

András Osskó
Chairman of FIG Commission 7 (Cadastre and Land Management)


Information technology has been developing very quickly all over the world. This quick development is followed by the wide spectrum of applications, but first of all on technical level. Sorry to say, the majority of the governmental and public institutions does not make the best use of the technological opportunities; they do not use them in practice, though there is a growing need everywhere for the introduction and operation of the e-governance. In the developed countries, usually the Governments themselves started to elaborate the methods of e-governance to support and improve the efficiency of the Government’s work and also provide external users and citizens with electronic services. There are developed countries, especially in Asia (India, South Korea, China) where an advanced information technology exists, but many other – legal, institutional – conditions are still missing that would be necessary for introducing e-governance.
e implementation of e-governance could be one of the results of technological development; that is expected by the decision-makers, the players of the economy and also by the whole society. Of course, there are many conditions to fulfil first and nowadays only very few countries are able to do it.     

The most important conditions

  1. changes in rules of law, new Acts,
  2. viable and operable national information infrastructure
  3. well-functioning integrated institutional network
  4. harmonization of different information systems and databases
  5. merging different governmental databases6. e-governance and e-administration fully accepted by the society.

Conditions of introducing and operating the e-governance

1. Changes in rules of law, new Acts

The development of information technology is very quick all over the world, but the necessary rules of law do not keep pace with the changes of technology; the States and their Governments cannot feel the advantages of using information technology. The changes of rules of law that would support the introduction of e-governance are very slow. There are many reasons for that: the profession of lawyers is conservative enough; they insist very much to traditions, paper-based contracts, stamps etc.
The introduction of electronic documents, electronic case management can also simplify the procedures, improve transparency, and this not always serves the interests of legal professionals in many countries. This is also fact that the average people in many countries also insist to paper-based contracts, to appear personally in the offices etc. In those countries, which have long traditions of living in democracy, the introduction and operating of e-governance is much easier and is better under way. I mean first of all the Scandinavian countries, The Netherlands and Great Britain.
Comprehensive changes are needed in the rules of law for the operation of the e-governance and its services; we should introduce the electronic signature, the e-documents and the e-procedures, i. e. the whole case management should be reorganized.
The copyright, in other words, the ownership rights in different data and databases cause many problems. Several state-owned institutions create and maintain databases and provide external users with services. The payment collected for those services forms part of their budgets, and they often occupy monopolistic position in the market of data and services.

2. Fully operational information systems 

To introduce and operate a comprehensive, fully operational e-governance and administration, we need a countrywide compatible information system.  This is a duty and responsibility of the State to provide all those technological conditions and information infrastructure that the e-governance can offer.

Which are the most important conditions of an operable system ?

  • Countrywide telecommunication systems with big capacity. It is vital to give equal chances for all citizens in having access to e-governance services.
  • Public digital databases. Cadastre, land and property registry, company registry. Building registry, address registry, registry of taxation authorities, databases of local governments – these are the most important ones.
  • Establishing the National Spatial Data Infrastructure is also a basic condition for the operation of the e-governance.

„The existing National Spatial Data Infrastructure brings changes into our lives; representing the reality, integrating the information and makes them part of our everyday life. The citizens can find spatial information on the web and will know which data are integrated into the majority of applications and services.” (“Geographical information and value for society”, Knut O. Flathen, General Director of the Norwegian Cadastre and Mapping Authority)

3. Harmonisation of the sate-owned databases

During the past 10-15 years, various public institutions and private enterprises have been developing several spatial and other databases. These were not harmonized, in many cases duplicates were created, and now there are several different databases for the same purpose. To avoid this situation in the future, the harmonization is the only and cheapest solution. This is the practice in many countries. The national basic mapping data (digital cadastral, topographic and other spatial data) are obligatory to use, and all further special databases are produced on this basis.

4. Integration of different state-owned databases

All over the world and mostly in the developed countries, it is already a daily practice to integrate the different State-owned databases, first of all those connected to land and property, and to replace the separated services of several institutions with an integrated data service. Many countries have already earlier recognized the significance of the integration of data and activities concerning land and property registration. A good example is the integration of the databases of cadastre and land registration, later on of their institutional system, together with their legal background.
Based on experiences, the integration of the following data and databases is extremely advantageous:

  • Cadastre
  • Land registration
  • Company registry
  • Building registry
  • Address registry.

This is favourable for the State-owned institutions and the local governments as they can have direct contact and access to databases of each other, and also useful for the external users as in a centralised database they can find all necessary data.

5. Institutional issues

A suitable and operable institutional network is needed for e-governance. As I mentioned it earlier, the professional trend accepted today is integration; possibly one institutional network coordinates the e-governance and its services.Some examples and experiences show that in those countries where the establishment and operation of the e-governance is on an advanced level, the Cadastre, the Mapping Authority or the Uniform Land Registration System and their networks are responsible for the coordination and operation of e-governance, administration and its services.

  • Denmark: Danish Cadastre
  • Norway: Norwegian Cadastre and Mapping Authority (land registry)
  • Sweden: Cadastre· The Netherlands: Kadaster (a uniform land registration system)

What is the reason why these institutions are the most suitable to operate and coordinate an e-governance and its related services?

A.) These institutions are the owners and providers of digital, cadastral, other mapping and spatial data and information
When having a uniform land registration system, they are also owners and providers of data related to ownership and other rights in land and other real estates. These institutions are also responsible for the registration of any changes in the above data and rights, maintenance of legal and mapping information and data.

  • Legal data: ownership rights, limitations, easements, community rights, mortgages and other rights.
  • Mapping data and information: Descriptive data of the land and property. Parcel identification number or individual identifier. Address (street, house number), building information, cultivation line, land use, land value, data of the area etc.
  • The cadastral map shows the data of the boundary line and the public administration borders (state, country, settlement). These systems also contain spatial information.

One of the main aims of the e-governance is to provide various online services for the citizens and other external users. The external users, the local governments and governmental bodies need mostly the data connected to land and other properties. These data are necessary for regulation plans, other activities of the construction authorities, land development, monitoring of transport, ambulance and emergency service etc.

B.) A countrywide institutional system
The institutional system of the cadastre and land registration is decentralised and its activity covers the whole area of the country.  The users have easy access to the legal, mapping and spatial data connected to land and other properties, also in the case if they are in analogue format.

C.) They have a suitable, highly qualified, professional staff
The institutional system of the cadastre and the institutions operating the uniform land register have a suitable staff of highly qualified people (lawyers, land surveyors, IT professionals and other experts) who are needed to provide services coordinate and operate the e-governing system. They also have the necessary knowledge to that.
There are only very few institutions in public administration the activity of which covers the whole country with suitable capacity and excellent expert knowledge that is necessary for coordinating e-governance. Of course, professional knowledge and IT should permanently be improved.

6. E-governance and e-services fully accepted by the society

One of the most important conditions of introducing and operating e-governance and services that the users, the society accepts it. Based on European experience, there are two basic obstacles in the way of introducing e-governance: a formal and an informal. The major formal obstacle is the lack or slow change of the rules of law. Among the informal obstacles the most disturbing is that the users, and often the employees themselves of the service-providing institutions also insist to the traditions, the traditional operation and the case management they are accustomed to.
Consequently, it is equally very important to make the users and other players accept the e-governance and to create conditions for IT and the changes of rules of law.

Hungarian situation

Earlier I have listed the most important conditions of introducing e-governance. Now let us see the Hungarian situation in this respect.

1.) There were some changes performed in the rules of law that were necessary to introduce electronic case management and e-governance (e.g. Act No. XXXV/2001 on electronic signature; Governmental Decree No. 193/2005 on detailed rules of electronic case management; Governmental Decree No. 044/2005 on the current e-governmental duties serving the modernisation of public administration). Though steps have been made forward but it is not enough. The other problem is that application in the practice of the existing rules of law is in delay. One reason of it is that the electronic case management, the e-governance, the standardized e-documents increase the transparency and simplification of the procedures that is not very favourable for all professional groups. The more: the ordinary people also insist to have a paper in the hand (instead of electronic messages or viewing the content of property sheet on the computer screen). No wonder that the e-governance is on an advanced level in the Scandinavian countries, where democracy has a long tradition, and the citizens require and expect transparent, simple and corruption-free procedures and case management from the decision-makers and other players of public administration.

2.) Hungary has got a good IT strategy and an up-to-date basic infrastructure. On institutional level we are in a far not so favourable situation. In the majority of the cases, lack of budget resources is hindering the creation of e-services corresponding to users’ demands. It often occurs that the supervising ministries cannot feel the advantages of the “use” of IT, as they apply the analogue and the electronic case management and correspondence, and the electronic documentation is not everywhere accepted etc. The users – especially in the countryside – do not possess the suitable tools and cannot make use of the electronic services.

3.) In the past decade, several governmental institutions and local governments have developed their own databases, and the harmonization of them has not been performed. The harmonization and the creation of the National Spatial Data Structure are an important and urgent task, and an expectation of the EU.

4.) Nowadays, the integration of the various databases developed for public purposes is a basic principle in many developed European countries and in other parts of the world. The operation of a central database and the integrated service is much cheaper, more efficient and simpler for the external users too. Of course, the maintenance and updating of databases should be the duty of the professional institutions, as well as the coordination of the central database.

5.) To operate e-governance, integrated and coordinated institutional systems are needed. An operable e-cadastre, e-land registration and e-land administration are all extremely important elements of e-governance.
Considering European examples, in those countries where e-governance is partly or fully operable – first of all in the Scandinavian countries – the Cadastre and Mapping Authority or the institutional system of uniform land registration are responsible for the realisation and operation of e-governance.
In my opinion, the institutional system of land administration in Hungary – land office network, Institute of Geodesy, Cartography and Remote Sensing – is suitable for coordinating and operating the e-governance, based on the facts that support this statement (an existing multipurpose database containing all land information, spatial data, countrywide institutional system, and suitable staff with comprehensive knowledge).

6.) Based on the experience of many countries, evidently also in Hungary, it is necessary to gain the consent of the whole society before introducing and operating the e-governance. Identical chances should be given to everybody in having access and using the information, e-governance, electronic case management and their services. Until all these do not happen, the e-governance will not work.

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