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The relevance of GIS for land administration and management

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    Land is the habitat of man and its wide use is crucial for the economic, social, and environmental advancement of all countries. Although it is part of man’s natural heritage, access to land is controlled by ownership patterns. Land is partitioned for administrative and economic purposes, and it is used and transformed in myriad ways.

    Population growth, technological and social hazards; and environmental degradation have all to be taken into greater account today by policy makers, resource planners, and administrators who make decisions about land. They need more detailed land information than has been traditionally available. Although the printed map is still useful, computerized systems offer improved ways of acquiring, storing, processing and retrieving such information.

    Manual record keeping in land administration has been in use by most land related departments in most developing nations. Most cities and their surroundings have been expanding rapidly with the increasing rate of urbanization. With this rapid expansion, manual record-keeping has become inefficient, time consuming and prone to abuses; which warrants the need for a better system of land administration and management practices.

    Advancement in land administration

    Though computerization of cadastral information has been on for over 40 years now in more advanced countries, in developing nations, it is in the last decade that greater emphasis and more serious moves towards the establishment of fully digitized cadastral systems became noticeable. This has become a worldwide trend. It is recognized that digital cadastral systems must be tailored to facilitate an effective land administration and thereby, more generally, promote economic development, social cohesion and sustainable development.

    Relevance of GIS

    Lately, Geographic Information System (GIS) has become effective tool for natural resources management all over the world. For a sustainable land use plan, land administration requires more and more data integration, multi-disciplinary and complex analysis, and need faster or more precise information. Certainly, Geographic Information System (GIS), which has a strong capacity in data integration analysis and visualization; thus, becoming a platform for land administration. Geographic Information System (GIS) which is a computer system for capturing, storing, querying, analyzing, and displaying geographically referenced data; are effective tools that facilitate mapping of the land resources, which is useful in varied monitoring and assessment capacities.

    GIS as already shown above is a system and method of integrating information based upon geo-referenced data; that enables the study of complex world problems.

    • It provides easy and quick access to many layers of geographic data (e.g., land ownership, land use, plot sizes, beacons, administrative boundaries, right of way, contours and engineering infrastructure). This ability to integrate data enables administrators, professionals in various disciplines, and citizens to understand, analyze, and visualize spatial relationships.
    • GIS helps identify and eliminate errors in data and parcel boundaries. By having a complete inventory of a city’s land.
    • GIS allows the government to increase its revenue base from land resources.
    • It also allows for the development of mapping standards to maintain the data’s integrity.
    • GIS makes public access to data possible, which can contribute to the data’s overall accuracy. Information regarding development and zoning policies can be more easily disseminated. Impacts of changes in zoning laws are more readily identified and understood. Urban land management presents several challenges to government and administrators. The vast amount of data is often daunting. Accuracy is essential both in data collection and maintenance; GIS tool makes that possible.
    • GIS provides solutions for effective management and assistance for land planning. Geo-databases combine spatial data with land use information. Data can be used across different agencies, adding another layer of information for other planning efforts.
    • A central GIS reduce duplications in the data and errors with multiple datasets. GIS data gives city planners access to a variety of information. Historical data overlaid with current land use data illustrates the impact of development within a community. Areas of greatest environmental pressure can be identified. Data is more readily shared between different agencies.
    • Creation of master geo-databases provides other agencies such as natural resource departments with additional tools for their planning efforts. Sharing of data allows planners, land administrators and managers to dispense with the notion that development is done in isolation of the surrounding environment.
    • GIS provides city planners, city managers and land administrators with opportunities for more effective management of land parcel data as well as the environment.         

    With the many capabilities of GIS few of which are enumerated above, it will be correct to conclude that, with the growing nature and rapid development, and the ever changing demands for land, GIS appears to be the best tool available for effective land administration and efficient parcel management. This will help to ensure accuracy in records as related to land such as ownership rights, transfer of ownership, land use activities, etc.

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