Cadastre forensics, para surveyor and mobile app for land registration

Nov 2022 | No Comment

This land surveyor apps was implemented to enable effective and efficient data collection on party, boundary and document sources referring to ISO 19152 standard known as Land Administration Domain Model

Trias Aditya

Head of Department of Geodetic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Indonesia


A conventional approach in land registration applies a mandatory field boundary demarcation and survey1 for registering land ownerships. As seen for the case of Indonesia’s land titling, based upon Government Regulation (No 24/1997), a special task force consisting of government surveyors or licensed surveyors are mandated to collect spatial data of land boundaries. Here land boundaries are physical boundaries marked by pillars installed by landowners and confirmed by adjacent landowners. In parallel to that team, a juridical team is deployed to collect and verify the legal data concerning the landowners’ identity and underlying ownership data. The juridical teams are land office employees assigned by the head of the land office. This conventional approach tends to be labor-intensive and expensive to cover all unregistered land parcels. Spatial and legal completeness are among challenging issues for many countries including Indonesia. Up to 2022, More than 75 million land parcels have been titled through various first registration projects and programs and yet at least about 30 million new parcels are to be certified. In addition to the completeness issue, the current Indonesia land administration must deal with the data reliability and quality issues as more than 17 million out of all published land titles are not spatially and legally validated. This condition is the result of sporadic implementation and the lack of quality assurance of cadastral mapping in the past. As the government of Indonesia has declared to complete the first registration and to remedy incompleteness and inconsistency in the land register by 2025, the race against time to beat the deadline has challenged government and academic institutions to develop solutions to accelerate the cadastral data collection.

The traditional method that would only allow government and licensed surveyors to collect data using high-standard surveying devices produced no more than one and half million new land titles per year. Since 2017 the government launched a systematic land registration project, nationally known as PTSL, in order to increase the production of land titles significantly. The project has been supported directly by the president through a Presidential Instruction No. 2/2018 and has successfully produced about 21 million land certificates within only three years. PTSL was designed to map all land parcels and to certify unregistered land parcels nationwide, covering each village in a semi-systematic fashion. However, from the three years’ PTSL implementation, the spatial completeness is still seen as a big challenge as land offices frequently focus only to increase numbers of first-land titles, leaving land parcels with conflicts, floating titles, and unregistered parcels are still unmapped.

Community-driven, participatory, and crowdsourced approaches are argued to promote an efficient and complete land boundary inventory, for many purposes, including for land registration projects. The application of community driven, participatory, crowdsourced, and volunteered data collection in the research domain of land administration has been tested in different countries in the past few years (c.f. Basiouka and Potsiou, 2014; Bennett and Alemie, 2016; Moreri et al., 2018; Rahmatizadeh, Rajabifard, and Kalantari, 2016; Siriba and Dalyot, 2017). The government of Indonesia has also tested a participatory spatial and legal data collection for a systematic land registration in two villages7, which sees the use of a mobile data collector is promising for accelerating legal and spatial data collection in land registration projects. Based on that recommendation, the national land agency developed an in-house mobile app, called Survey Tanahku (my Land Survey), that facilitates land survey for land registration purposes 8 .

The need for a cadastre app for accelerating first registration and quality improvements

This land surveyor apps was implemented to enable effective and efficient data collection on party, boundary and document sources referring to ISO 19152 standard known as Land Administration Domain Model (LADM) (see further at Aditya, Sucaya, Adi 2020). Party in land administration refers to natural persons or organization that relate to a land parcel. They can be bank representatives, licensed surveyor, employee, neighbors, village leaders and notary. Party data were collected by connecting a biometric fingerprint scanner with the apps in order to gather person identity gathered from the national civil registry web services. Boundary data collection can be created from digitizing aerial imageries or GNSS (Global Navigation Satelite System) survey via a Bluetooth connection or entering distance measurements into the app. The land surveyor apps could capture document sources (e.g., notary statement, tax receipts, and village statement) and store the data securely on the web. The communication between the apps and the national land databases are two ways. The surveyor can prepare a working map by importing land parcel geometries before surveyor go to the field. Or, alternatively surveyor can opens up a WMS (Web Map Service) connection with central databases to display and query land parcel map. After the survey is done, the collected boundary and party data as well as imageries of document sources can be upload into individual surveyor’s working databases. As the apps are intended to be used by government surveyors, licensed surveyors and even para surveyors (community representatives that are assigned to help government collecting cadastral information from their own village), thus the system implement single sign on that required a two steps verification before the apps can be used by surveyors. For completing field boundary survey in land titling projects, the submitted boundary, party and document data are automatically composed into a digital field sketch that can be used by surveyors to claim their performances.

The latest trend in the utilization of mobile technology as a field data collector for land-related data collections (see e.g., Asiama, Bennett, & Zevenbergen, 2017; Fornace et al., 2018; Herrick et al., 2016; Khan, Xiang, Aalsalem, & Arshad, 2013) and lessons learnt from other countries on how innovations can reform land administration13 have motivated local land offices and project executors to use a mobile application to collect land boundaries and their associated formal data for land registration purposes. For that purpose, various tools of data collectors have been implemented by surveyors and project contractors. Unfortunately, these tools provided challenges on data standardization and data usability hindering an efficient land registration to take place. The national land agency then initiated a project aims at creating a smart data collector to accelerate field survey activities required by land surveyors for supporting land administration services.

Role of para surveyors

In a normal procedure of data collection, the surveyor team requested land registration applicants to submit required registration requirements in forms of paper documents. This manual data collection potentially slows down the overall speed of land registration activities. A critical feature that is required to exist in the app is the ability to displaying online land records and boundaries stored in the national land databases conforming to the LADM standard implemented inherently in the national land databases. In this way, the app is enabling para surveyors to see land boundaries registered in the land databases. Further, it is also enabling para surveyors to help the government in data maintenance and quality improvement of land titles which often require a field visit to validate boundaries and their ownership status (Figure 1)

The use of sensors (finger print reader, camera, accurate GNSS sensors) and the connection to land databases (known as Geo-KKP) will cut off time and procedures for surveyors to comply with cadastral survey and mapping procedures. The application has been tested in urban areas in Denpasar City, Batam and Pontianak and has met expected quality, effectiveness and efficiency set up for land survey data collection. The app can be seen as an enabler for more accurate and effective collaboration between the formal/ informal surveyors and national land office to increase the completeness and reliability of land administration of the country.

Cadastre forensics

Tracking certificates that have been published with no proper spatial representation and location information are required to be done as in the past some certificates were delivered with no parcel map. Tracing the documents of unmapped certificates must be done as the approach of digitalization in land documentation has mostly done been sporadically. In terms of spatial data collection, various methods from tape measurements, terrestrial survey to GNSS survey were used for providing spatial representation of physical parcel boundaries. In terms of land documentation, although digital conversion of land book, parcel map and registration sources have been done, the digital conversion was not done systematically. First, it was not done thoroughly too all villages and secondly, digital conversion often failed to cover all updates from data maintenance (due to various land transactions). In cadaster forensics, the registration documentation of unmapped titles are done by tracking and tracing formal document and administration sources in order to map flying certificates into land registration map.

Tracing and tracking can be done into two steps. Firstly, accuracy assessment and spatial adjustment of land registration map to all land parcels are done. This can be seen as a level upgrading in the framework of cadastre quality improvement (see Box 1) from sporadic plotting and rubber sheeting into a systematic spatial adjustment. The result is an improved land registration map that still contain unconfirmed or blank land parcels requiring field visit for mapping the flying certificates. Together with the remaining list of unmapped certificates, the improved land registration can be used as the field work map. The blank and unconfirmed land parcels are plotted into the field work map (given hatches/ marks on the map). These polygons were then converted as JSON ad uploaded to the app to simplify and limit search of location where unresolved certificates potentially locate on the field. This app can be used for field validation by surveyors for helping tracing and tracking all flying certificates. In order to accelerate the tracking and tracing activities, local leaders and activists in the villages.

This paper sees the local leaders and activists can be empowered to act as para surveyors, who are officially assigned by local land office to conduct: (1) survey boundaries, (2) interview to the landowner and its neighbors and, (3) collection of land administration related documents using a mobile data application directly connected with the national land database (Figure 2). Currently, the app also has an ability to collect fingerprints that can be matched to the national civil registry services. This connection becomes important as person validation for boundary and title validation on the field can be done efficiently utilizing a fingerprint sensor. The application can be connected with a survey-grade GNSS device to collect point boundaries precisely on the field. By default, the application enables on-screen digitization with the help of satellite or custom aerial imageries. Various custom tiles and vector lines can be imported into the app to help para surveyors focus to the specific survey targets (e.g., showing blank/unconfirmed land parcels shown on the field work map). The app can also utilize camera to capture documentation of administrative sources related to underlying rights (e.g. letter of statement of land ownership, receipts, and tax bills). The results of implemented cadastre forensics were validated titles, i.e. flying or floating certificates that were successfully plotted and unresolved certificates, i.e. floating certificates that are still unmapped.

In addition to that, for cadastral data quality improvements, the submitted boundary, party and documents are downloaded for data quality checks. The format for data uploading from the field to the server is using Geopackage. The databases created from field survey are readily to be integrated with existing land databases which has been compliant to the LADM standard. At the moment, based on observation and interview to several land offices, the completeness and reliability of spatial cadastre in Indonesia, mostly are at the level 1. Here, most of local land offices have integrated new survey data and existing cadastral map during the PTSL project in order to cover the geographic region of administrative area fully with sporadic or no ground control points. The next phase/cycle will be activities to achieve completeness and reliability for the next level.


This paper is developed from the paper (cancelled) for 2020 World Bank’s Land & Poverty Conference: Aditya, T., Sucaya, IKG., Adi, FN., Syahid, H.L. Connecting National Land Databases and Para Surveyors Through a Mobile Data Collector for Accelerating Land Administration Completeness and Reliability.


This work is supported by Audrey Barker Grant/FIG.

Further reading

Trias Aditya, I Ketut Gede Ary Sucaya, Fajar Nugroho Adi (2021). LADM-compliant field data collector for cadastral surveyors, Land Use Policy,Volume 104 (https://www. pii/S026483772100079X)


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