The timing of FutureGov’s recent high-level briefing on land administration systems in Hanoi, could not have been more perfect, as a few days before the event, the Prime Minister had given his approval to establish a National Land Database marking a turning point in Vietnam’s socio-economic transformation.
The event gathered 15 senior level decision makers from agencies such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), Ministry of National Defence, Hanoi People’s Committee and Dak Lak People’s Committee.
Nguyen Huu Chinh, Director General of the Department of Information Technology at the MONRE, kicked off the high-level briefing by celebrating the Prime Minister’s support to improve Vietnam’s land administration system.
“The value of information and the quality of decisions made are directly related to the capacity of the system that produces information. Currently, Vietnam’s paper-based land administration system is burdened by thousands of contradicting, overlapping and outdated records. Once the National Land Database is completed, authorities at central and local governments can confidently arrive at well-informed decisions and craft better and more sustainable policies on issues pertaining to land use,” he said.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Working Party on Land Administration, an effective land administration system guarantees ownership and tenure security, ensures equitable and transparent land and property taxation, provides security for credit, and supports an efficient land and property market. It also contributes to sustainable land management and key initiatives such as e-government, national spatial data infrastructure and sustainable land use planning.
At the forefront of this exciting journey, the delegates were asked, through an interactive polling session, to identify the biggest challenge in improving a land administration system. The top three challenges were:
●Lack of legal frameworks needed to underpin ICT-based administration services (47 per cent)
●The cost needed to modernise paper-based systems (33 per cent)
●Silo legacy workflow systems (20 per cent)
“Apart from those mentioned, other challenges associated with building a National Land Database includes security, capacity, latency, design, and transparency. Bearing these challenges in mind, I would advise organisations to leverage a system that would allow them to keep up with rapidly changing technology,” said Brent Jones, Global Manager for Cadastre and Land Records at Esri.
“Governments should build as little custom software as possible and use as much off-the-shelf as they can. Our experience shows that highly customised systems are expensive to maintain and lock a land system in old technology. Land administration systems evolve in terms of the legal system, culture, data and technology. Locking in old technology prevents the natural and necessary evolution.”
GIS has been an essential component of successful land administration and cadastral agencies for many years. The ArcGIS platform, for example, is being used by many governments worldwide as the foundation of their land administration systems.
“ArcGIS provides a comprehensive land administration technology platform to enable land administration organisations to modernise to meet new challenges by providing efficient, well-managed workflows, rigorous systems that manage data integrity and security, and capabilities to provide modern information products to stakeholders.”
Further into the discussion, delegates were asked, through another interactive polling, what they thought was the biggest role GIS plays in embracing a land administration system. Delegates identified the following as the top roles of GIS:
●Standardises the collection and processing of data (50 per cent)
●Speed up the registration of land titles (25 per cent)
●Facilitate seamless access to land-related data (17 per cent)
●Decrease the cost and space required for storing land records (8 per cent)
”Due to the huge volume of documents and records, we might find it difficult to digitise all our records. Hence, I believe the biggest role of GIS in our project is to force standardisation in how we collect and process land information,” said Tran Van Sy, Deputy Director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
He added that speeding up the processes of registration of titles is important in Vietnam. In fact, the government hopes to streamline the entire process by 2015.
“The registration of titles and other land instruments are key factors crucial to improving Vietnam’s ‘ease of doing business’ index. A shortened time for property registration and reduced cost in transactions would enable us to better serve citizens and attract more investments,” he said.
In the middle of a spirited discussion, Duong Van Phi, Deputy Director of the Centre for GIS application at MONRE, directed a question to Jones on the usability of the ArcGIS interface.
“Apart from improving current workflows and processes, the National Land Database also aims to serve our citizens’ need for authoritative and updated information. Given the current capacity in Vietnam, how can Esri make it easier for our citizens to easily navigate around the ArcGIS platform?” he asked.
Jones responded saying, “Esri is a world leader in building and implementing land administration systems and we understand this challenge. The way Esri is building its technology leverage new user interfaces and on new devices such as android tablets.They actually designed for non-technical users by equipping them with simple functions and interfaces that they are already accustomed to using.”
In addition, ArcGIS provides cloud-base technology for sharing and collaborating. It empowers land administration organisations to create interactive maps and applications and share them within and outside their organisation. This delivers to the organisation new opportunities to use and gain insight into their data and provide these capabilities to the citizenry.
“It’s designed in such a way that allows citizens to easily get a clear picture of where things are occurring and help them understand patterns affecting things that matter most to them,” he said.