Assessing technological possibility against societal need: smart sketchmaps for fit-for-purpose land administration

Assessing technological possibility against societal need: smart sketchmaps for fit-for-purpose land administration

Amsing, H.C. (2017) Faculty of Geosciences Theses (Master thesis)

Supervisors: dr. R.M. (Rohan) Bennett and dr. S. (Serene) Ho
Professor: J.A. (Jaap) Zevenbergen


This research seeks to explore the potential of smart sketchmaps for delivering fit-for-purpose land administration in Eastern Africa, especially by assessing whether smart sketchmaps include fit-for-purpose land administration elements according to different stakeholder perceptions. Whilst the use of sketch mapping itself is not new in land administration, smart sketchmaps’ technologies and processes allow for conversion of hand drawn sketch maps into topologically and spatially corrected maps. Smart sketchmaps can provide qualitative spatial information in areas where conventional cartographic and geospatial knowledge is often limited. Including these maps in the land administration system not only adds to existing data about visible boundaries, but importantly introduces records of those less obvious socially or temporally constructed de facto boundaries that are significant in customary tenures. Smart sketchmaps can be seen as the next generation of hand drawn mapping that fully embraces the age of digital interoperability, automated processing, and fit-for-purpose land administration. Since recording certain land tenures is extremely difficult, if not impossible, using conventional technical survey prescriptions, smart sketchmaps may be the fundamental key in removing these barriers. This will be particularly beneficial for public-, private-, or grassroots mappers who cannot always adhere to those technical requirements. Smart sketchmaps in land administration are proposed in the Horizon 2020 ‘its4land’ project. its4land commenced in 2016 and aims to develop innovative land tenure recording tools in Eastern Africa, being smart sketchmaps, UAVs, automated feature extraction, and geocloud services. All in order to deliver fit-for-purpose land recording services. The focus of this research is on developing countries, specifically in Eastern Africa, that have the urgent need for innovative tools that support the continuum of land rights. The continuum of land rights is key in acknowledging different types of land tenure: it can support the road to ownership and control over land by all people and sustain their livelihood and survival. In fit-for-purpose land administration, land administration systems are flexible and focus on citizens’ needs, consequently informal tenure types have to be taken into account as well. Assessing fit-for-purpose land administration elements can be difficult, especially for a tool that is yet to be proven in pilot studies, let alone adopted. Therefore, perceptive input from different stakeholders from different backgrounds is sought. Stakeholders are identified from different user groups: international users (investors, donors, other organizations), industry users (large geo-related companies), emerging users (NGOs or businesses increasingly engaging in fit-for-purpose land recordation activities) and research users (academia from different research institutions). Perceptive input from these stakeholders is sought by applying the Q-methodology. Thirteen participants have conducted the so-called Q-sorts in which they ranked thirty statements on a forced distribution chart ranging from strongly disagree (-4) to strongly agree (+4). After the Q-sort an accompanying interview was held in which participants reflected on the sorting and motivated their choices. The gathered data was factor analysed, according to which three factors with clusters of perceptions are identified. Factor 1 perceives smart sketchmaps fit-for-purpose from the viewpoint of its societal fitness. Stakeholders in this factor mainly have a background in the societal processes concerning land administration. Societal fitness of any tool is of high importance in order to have effective outcomes and make significant impact. This factor is not so much focused on the added value of smart sketchmaps, if societal demands can be met is more important. Whether with smart sketchmaps or another technical tool. Factor 2 perceives smart sketchmaps fit-for-purpose from the viewpoint of its technical fitness. Stakeholders in this factor mainly have technical backgrounds. Technical fitness of the tool is of high importance as well, especially while the development is ongoing. Technical specifications have to be taken into account and piloted in the case areas. Specific elements to take into account are how to extend the LADM by including sketched information, while still remaining flexible to local situations. Besides, the means of sketching should remain flexible as well. Either by drawing freehand on blank paper or by annotating aerial images should be possible. The question remains how to provide sound base maps for the system when these are not present. Satellite imagery might be too low of resolution and flying UAV imagery has high costs to it which governments in Eastern Africa possibly cannot afford. This will be a challenge and costly element when scalability is required. Factor 3 perceives smart sketchmaps fit-for-purpose from the viewpoint of its commercial fitness. Stakeholders in this factor mainly have a background in business. This factor is interested in possible cooperation to use the tool within their organizations for commercial purposes. The development of smart sketchmaps in its4land focuses on the three identified factors in this research in their work packages. Though, just as for the researched stakeholders, a balanced consideration of all work packages is key for a successful outcome of the development process. Without balanced consideration of one another’s findings successful outcomes will be more difficult to achieve. By taking into account all of the three views represented in the three factors, smart sketchmaps are deemed suitable for a fit-for-purpose land administration approach.

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