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Cadastral mapping and Land Information System



S. Raghavendran
Support Executive - GIS, Pixel Infotek Pvt. Ltd.
raghavendran@pixelinfotek.com


Abstract
Man, Land and the Natural Resources supported by land always had an intrinsic and dynamic relationship. Land information is crucial for planning and development. The rapid pace of development in many of the cities, while bringing high growth rates also brings with it heavy burdens on land utilization. To ensure that the high growth rates can be sustained, it is imperative to plan for an effective Land Information System, to plan the utilization of its land resources for development, while at the same time protect the environment.

Planners of the 21st century are handicapped today. The reason: lack of authentic and upto date information, be it about the beneficiary groups, existing facilities, terrain and soil conditions or land ownership and occupancy details.

Land information refers to any physical, legal, economic or environmental information or characteristics concerning land, water, groundwater, subsurface resources, or air in the state. Land information has been used in a variety of systems over the years, from register of deed tract indexes to surveyors tie sheets or soil surveys. Today many organizations are moving land information into Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Land information is an integral part of government, non-profit, and private sector activities. Adopting GIS/LIS techniques can advance broader social purposes by making more effective public decisions and by using natural resources in a more optimal way.

This paper is not only aimed at addressing the urgent need for a Land Information System at various levels but also an eye opener to the problems involved in creating a LIS and a curtain raiser to the customised GIS based application for cadastral mapping/LIS that has been developed at Pixel Infotek.

The paper discusses various aspects and components of cadastral maps and the innovative user friendly tools that have been developed at Pixel Infotek for digitising various categories of cadastral maps like Town Maps, Block Maps, Ward Maps, Village Maps, Survey Fields etc.

The customised GIS based application has been developed on Bentley’s flagship product MicroStation/J Geographics and it provides the user with the flexibility to use native languages in cadastral maps/ LIS. The application has been developed after years of groundwork in this field and keeping in mind the local requirements. The developed application can be customised further to any local requirements.

Introduction
Land information is crucial for planning and development. The rapid pace of development in many of the cities in India, while bringing high growth rates also brings with it heavy burdens on land utilisation. To ensure that the high growth rates can be sustained, it is imperative to plan for an effective Land Information System to plan the utilisation of its land resources for development while at the same time protect the environment.

Land information refers to any physical, legal, economic or environmental information or characteristics concerning land, water, groundwater, subsurface resources, or air in the state. Land information has been used in a variety of systems over the years, from register of deed tract indexes to surveyors tie sheets or soil surveys. Today many organisations are moving land information into Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

A Land Information System (LIS) is similar to GIS but is more focused on land records and detailed views of these records. GIS and LIS systems provide tools that support many types of record keeping, analysis and decision-making.

Land information is an integral part of government, non-profit, and private sector activities. Adopting GIS/LIS techniques can advance broader social purposes by making more effective public decisions and by using natural resources in a more optimal way.



Components of LIS
Land Information System is an automated development of Cadastral Mapping. In general there are two main issues of concern for setting up a LIS, viz.
  • Spatial component/Survey data describing the spatial disposition of the parcels in the real world – Cadastral Maps
  • Non-Spatial component describing details such as ownership details, tax value etc – Legal Information
The Spatial component requires setting up of a spatial database (SDB) containing information on survey data, coordinates, edge details for parcels, parcel dimensions, parcel acreage, boundary descriptions. Whenever a parcel of land is updated, its spatial and non-spatial data will be archived for future access. In short, the SDB will retain all surveys and hence the spatial definition of parcels for historical access.

The Non-Spatial component as described earlier would store non-spatial/ attribute information about the parcel such as
  • Ownership details
  • Market Value
  • Land Use
  • Tax Value
  • Legal Authority in-charge of the parcel
  • Pictures of Plan, Elevation etc. of the structure constructed on a parcel
  • Past Ownership details
  • Encumbrance details
  • Demographic details for each parcel (No. of Persons/ Household, Gender ratio etc.)
  • Socio-economic details like Average Family Income, Employment etc.)
Cadastral Data / Spatial Database (SDB)
The Cadastral Maps maintained by the Survey and Land Records Department, of various States, may be generally classified into two types based on the information that they carry:
  • Town Maps &
  • Village Maps
The sub components of the above two may be listed as under:

Town Maps
  • Ward Maps
  • Block Maps
Village Maps
  • Village FMB’s or Survey Fields
The names, with which different maps are called, vary from State to State as the local language is still in use in the department.

Software for Cadastral Mapping & LIS
The GIS team at PIXEL INFOTEK has developed a customized interface for the purpose of Cadastral Maps running on Bentley’s MicroStation/J – the powerful CAD engine from M/s Bentley Systems Inc., USA. The user friendly tools and interface developed by PIXEL INFOTEK is powered by the powerful programming languages and tools available in MicroStation/J viz., MicroStation Basic, MicroStation Development language (MDL), JMDL and so on.

Creation of Block maps /Ward maps



In general the BLOCK MAP creation involves reading the FMB ladder plotted by the side of the BLOCK MAPS available with the Land Records. For this purpose the popular database format viz., MS EXCEL has been used. A small Visual Basic program allows the user to key-in the FMB ladder data in the same format as it is in the paper, so as to bring it into the CAD environment. Macros or small programs have been written to read this FMB ladder data in MS-Excel and to plot the same in MicroStation/J CAD environment. Options are available to set the symbol types for the station points etc. To join the points so plotted a variety of options are available to the user like:






Mouse method
This allows the user to connect the required points by drawing a line between them, while at the same time placing the user defined dimension as well as the actual dimension of the line drawn.

Two-Points method
This allows the user to connect any two given points with the option to key-in the user defined dimension for the line drawn.

Multi-Points method
This method allows the user to connect a number of points plotted already in the order specified by the user.

Options are also available to move, rotate or do other modifications to the dimensions or to the lines drawn.

To plot the Traverse Boundary of the Block Maps, Ward Maps etc. the same MS-Excel format has been used with the option in MicroStation/J to read the selected Excel file containing the Traverse Co-ordinates.

Mosaicing of Block Maps into its corresponding Ward Map has been made automatic in MicroStation/J environment using the Reference file concept.

Creation Of Village FMB’s / Village Maps
The process involved in the creation of Village FMB’s and Village Maps is very much similar to that of Block and Ward Map creation with the small difference that the Traverse Coordinates are not available and hence not used to plot the Traverse Boundary. The G-lines are used for this purpose and a process called as Triangulation plots them. For this purpose tools are available in the above said customised interface developed by PIXEL INFOTEK for the purpose of Land Records Department. After G-lines are plotted another program can be run to plot the FMB’s points from Excel file and also the corresponding ladder table also gets plotted. Mosaicing of Village FMB’s into the Village Map has been made automatic in MicroStation/J environment using the Reference file concept.

Local Language in Cadastral Maps
The interface developed for the purpose of preparing the Cadastral Maps also incorporates in it the option to use the native language of the state for which the Cadastral Maps are prepared, while labeling and dimensioning various components of the Cadastral Maps. The user is not even expected to know typing in the local language which he desires to use in the maps as the software developed has an interface known as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) which allows typing to be done interactively.

Creation of LIS
The maps of various categories once prepared as shown above can then be utilised for creating a LIS using MicroStation/J Geographics.

MicroStation/J Geographics allows for easy integration of Non-Spatial data with the Spatial data (Cadastral Maps) and for customised query and report generation. The database can be in any of the popular formats like Oracle, MS Access etc. The existing Non-Spatial information about the parcels in electronic format can also be integrated into the LIS without many hassles.

Analysis and Retrieval
Information retrieval is the most basic functionality for which any GIS application is built. In the case of a LIS, some typical queries that would be put on to a LIS are:
  • Query on Ownership information
  • Query on Land Use
  • Query on Ownership History
  • Query on Market Value
  • Query on the type of development that has been made by the parcel owner
  • Query on Edge Dimensions
  • Query on Parcel Acreage etc.
The type of analysis that could be made with LIS is unlimited, as it depends on the data that has been input as well on the user requirements. Some typical analysis that could be carried out using LIS are:
  • Assessment for Land Use changes and analysing the causes
  • Assessment of Property tax and preparation of thematic maps based on the tax value
  • Assessment of Parcels for land use violations, building code violations
  • Analyse the sales transactions for a particular parcel or for the whole block/ ward
  • Analyse the property for issue of Planning Permission
And similar other issues can be analysed which are of day to day concern to the authorities involved in cadastral management.

Report Generation
The LIS can also be used for generating reports about a particular parcel or a set of parcels. The output can be generated either in the form of a text document, Excel or in the form of an html document which can be put on the web for information to the public. Public can browse through the information through a web browser, without actually having to visit the office and wait patiently in the never ending serpentine queues for their needs to be fulfilled. This is the era of cyberspace, Internet and E-Technologies and there can be no doubt on the advantages these technologies can offer together with LIS.

Moreover the application has been developed after years of groundwork in this field and keeping in mind the local requirements. The developed application can be customised further to any local requirements.

Benefits of LIS
The advantages that would accrue to the department and the general public, when the existing cadastral data in the form of Block Maps, FMB’s etc are converted into digital format are really innumerable. To list a few of the many benefits:
  • Outdated maintenance procedures can be phased out and replaced by computerized updating of the land records.
  • The department can minimise vexatious boundary disputes and consequently civil litigation can efficiently safeguard the survey framework on ground.
  • The State Government can harness computerised database of every feature of land records in terms of Survey Fields and subdivisions (individual land holdings) for macro level and micro level planning activities, including the all important watershed development activity.
  • Computerised Land Information System ensures easy and instantaneous availability of correct record to the public and thereby helps in introducing the much warranted transparency of public records in this important domain.
  • Since the numeric data of each Survey Field is computerised, the maps generated by the computer are, without exception, far more accurate than the maps available at present and can function as efficient decision making tool.
Acknowledgment
The author is thankful to Mr. P.V.Rai, Managing Director, Pixel Infotek Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore, who has been a constant source of encouragement and in providing an opportunity to the author and the GIS team at PIXEL INFOTEK to develop such an application for the benefit of the common man.

The author expresses his deep sense of gratitude to all his colleagues at PIXEL INFOTEK for their encouragement, technical help and moral support, without which the application would not have seen the “Light of the day.”

Last but not the least the author expresses his sincere thanks to all the Survey and Land Records Department of various States with whom PIXEL INFOTEK has been carrying out pilot work or the other, which has helped the GIS team to develop this application.

References
  • GLIS, USGS - Global Land Information System www.edc.usgs.gov/webglis
  • Kuldip Rai, Computerisation of Land Records in India, www.gisdevelopment.net Potdar, V.B., LIS in the Present Day Context, www.gisdevelopment.net
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