In the early 2000s, New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to launch a fully electronic survey and titles system with the roll-out of Landonline. This followed a huge project by Toitū Te Whenua Land Information NZ or LINZ (the government department charged with regulating these matters).
The project aimed to digitise almost all paper survey and title records both current and historic and included the development of an accurate online representation of property boundaries and reference marks. All survey and titles transactions, for example, the creation of new survey plans and new title documents, as well as regulatory approvals are now done in this system.
While initially there were predictably a lot of teething troubles, over the following 20 years the system has gradually been improved to a point where it functions very well and has become an essential part of our work. In 2021 Landonline recorded the following activity:
- 13,000 registered users
- 3 million property titles
- 65 million property searches
- 256,000 property titles issued or re-issued
- 600,000 property transactions
In the world of technology nothing lasts forever, and in 2016 LINZ began to prepare for the replacement of ‘legacy’ Landonline with a new system. As well as a general makeover and taking the system entirely web-browser based, there is an intention to incorporate representations of rights in 3D – for example, height-limited titles or easements which are currently recorded in images and documents.
The development of the new system is being undertaken in-house by LINZ, with the intention that future fixes and enhancements can be delivered rapidly and without breaking existing functionality. To ensure that surveyors and solicitors have input into the process of modernising the system, LINZ have convened the Survey and Land Titles working groups. These groups are made up of 8-10 members each and represent a diverse range of experience and professional backgrounds.
In late 2020 Fox Senior Surveyor Alex Liggett was invited to join the Survey Working Group. Being a member involves a substantial time commitment as the group convenes in Wellington for a day every three months, and in between times there are often meetings and informal testing sessions to try out new solutions. The flip side for Fox and Associates is twofold; being in on the ground floor with this new system enables a seamless transition ensuring that our clients’ projects aren’t delayed by the transition to the new application, and we can also influence the development of the system to ensure we get the tools we need to deliver for our clients.
Alex and Fox Licensed Cadastral Surveyor Maciej Wozniak became part of the pilot rollout of the new Landonline survey application (entering information into the system and ensuring it is correctly integrated into the existing survey and titles database) on projects in August 2021, and straight away began making their mark on the system, reporting bugs and recommending enhancements.
In July this year, the remainder of the Fox team were brought into the pilot program, and now all data entry for Fox legal surveys is undertaken in the new system. Having two ‘early adopters’ meant that the transition was fast and almost completely painless. The new survey application will be opened to all survey users in the first half of 2023 and will become mandatory sometime later in the year.
There are still quite a lot of aspects of the new system still to be rolled out, including the generation of survey and title diagrams, rebuilding of the database that lies behind all of Landonline, and incorporation of 3D data. As development goes on Alex will continue to represent the interests of the profession as well as Fox & Associates and our clients. Being on the cutting edge of this new technology aligns with the key Fox value of always looking for a better way. It’s exciting in itself, but also means that our clients’ work gets the benefit of early access to new tools and features.