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Land Registry

Enter the world of

Land Registry Digital Transformation

 

UNDERSTAND DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

Digital transformation, by contrast to digital disruption, is a deliberate and concerted effort to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization by way of adopting, evolving and refining digital workflows. Digital transformation efforts must always align with the ultimate purpose of the organization.

UNDERSTAND LAND REGISTRIES

Land registries secure the property rights of land and immovables. They ensure their opposability to third parties. Ultimately, land registries, by ensuring the legal reliability of land transaction records, promote the financial stability, public accountability and access to ownership. How should the land registry digital transformation journey be undertaken?

 

1 – Start with Why

Why do you wish to embark on a digital transformation journey? Perhaps you have read about blockchain technology and want to learn more, or perhaps you are keen on ensuring that your land registry is not missing out on modernization opportunities.

Notarius helped the Quebec land registry go digital 20 years ago. Recently, we are supporting the Alberta land registry do the same. In both cases, it all started with “why”. We recommend that you develop clear answers to why you wish to embark on this journey. Considering the role in society of land registries, good reasons could be, for example:

  • Enabling C2G and P2G digital government (citizens to government and professionals to government); and
  • Enhancing the long term legal reliability and security of information received, kept and issued by the registry.

 

2 – Define Digital Transformation Strategy

A strategy is the set of all necessary and sufficient decisions to ensure the success of an endeavor. A good strategy allows the ulterior definition of an action plan which could be a project, a program or a portfolio of projects or programs.

A digital transformation strategy should always be aligned with a Vision. The Vision meaningfully depicts how the future organization is digitally enabled. Meaningfully means being able to tell the story of how people interact with and work in the new organization. Failing a clear Vision, it is not prudent to attempt to define a strategy!

Here are some examples of recommended strategy statements:

  • Modernization of digital workflows will prioritize offering an online, fluid and easy experience to lawyers, land surveyors and members of the public;
  • Land registry information that give rise to opposable property rights will be kept in the form of legally reliable digital records that remain reliable over longs period of time (20-100 years); and
  • Land registry transactions that have been examined and accepted will be recorded in a blockchain registry for maximum security and reliability.

 

3 – Implement Transformation

Implementing transformation in government and quasi-government environments can benefit from adopting agile development methods and approaches. For example, iterative implementation whereas logical, small incremental steps can be defined and rolled out is almost always a better approach than monolithic, organizational wide deployment in one step.

Notarius has deep expertise in the legal, technology, government and operational aspects of land registry records. Our expertise is very niche – we enable land registries to create, verify and preserve legally reliable digital records. We do not operate outsourced land registries. Also, although we are not an advisory services company, we freely share our expertise and recommendations, without commitment, to land registries who wish to optimize their digital transformation strategy and decisions.

Here are some examples of how the Notarius expertise, solutions and products can help your land registry modernize its operations:

  • Ensure at the document level that documents submitted by lawyers and land surveyors are signed by members in good standing of their respective professional association;
  • Ensure a digital record workflow in which the originating record came from the land registry, was executed by parties to a transaction and can be accordingly verified, automatically;
  • Leverage the best of PDF/A and blockchain technologies to maximize the convenience, reliability and security of information issued by the land registry

 

4 – Optimize

It is never over. While you may think that upon a successful digital transformation journey, you will be able to take another 30 years break before undertaking the next, alas, it is not so. We live in a world constantly accelerating its pace of technology evolution. Facing that propsect, each land registry must decide how best to cope with this rate of evolution.

Notarius recommends to land registries to make a few fundamental technology choices and to stick with those on a longer term basis while simultaneously allowing for ongoing optimization. Amidst the the fundamental technology decisions that we recommend are the following:

  • Owing to the mandate of land registries in society, there will always be a need to file information with and extract information from land registries. This information, both going into and out of land registries, must meet legal compliance standards. Notarius therefore recommends to establish at the document level such compliance, thereby allowing land registries to freely evolve and adapt to better technologies over time in relation to land registry management systems and the security environments in which they are hosted; and
  • PDF/A (ISO 19005) is currently the only family of open standards that ensures the long-term reliability of semantic documents. Notarius recommends the adoption of PDF/A for documents received and documents issued by a land registry. In terms of information kept in the land registry, Notarius recommends either digital records registered in a blockchained registry or a tokenized blockchain.

 

UNDERSTANDING BLOCKCHAINS

Blockchains deserve a special section in this page. Since The Economist published “The trust machine” and “The great chain of being sure about things” on October 31st, 2015, the world has seen an ever accelerating interest in all kinds of blockchain initiatives, including land registry initiatives.

In relation to blockchain, Notarius recommends the following key take-aways for land registries:

  • Blockchains are great for exchanging a virtual currency among untrusting parties in a secure manner (e.g. Bitcoin). They also do well to ensure proof of existence (PoE) – that is, to prove something existed at a specific point in time;
  • Blockchains could be used for tokenized land registry transactions; and
  • Blockchains can record digital identity credentials but cannot create them or bind them to documents…. without a little help.

UNDERSTANDING DIGITAL RECORDS

Notarius defines “digital records” as a synonym to legally reliable electronic documents. Documents are static sets of fixed information that can be read in a linear fashion by human beings. Documents can also be machine readable.

Human beings develop knowledge experientally, deductively and by learning. Learning often involves reading. When the information that needs reading also needs to be legally reliable, the reader needs to be sure of the origin of the information, its integrity, its authenticity and its longevity.

Socially and legally, the information held by land registries sits at the apex of such reliability requirements. For that reason, Notarius recommends that digital records be used in conjunction with blockchain technology to leverage the best each technology has to offer.

UNDERSTANDING DOCUMENT RELIABILITY

What is needed for an electronic document to be considered legally reliable?

Notarius is ideally positioned to answer this question because we are worldwide leaders in digital signatures and the long-term reliability of electronic documents.

There are four ingredients to document reliability. They are explained below.

UNDERSTANDING DOCUMENT SECURITY

Document security must be distinguished from document reliability. Document security is concerned with the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information.

Notarius recommends to address confidentiality and availability architecture optimization at the platform and environment levels, not at the document level.