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Setting Up a Digital Process for Future

We are currently working on the digitalization of the community planning and building process in Sweden and are establishing a dialogue between public and private stakeholders for this purpose. Some of the key factors in setting up this process include standardization of data and ensuring its accessibility, safety, and security, explains Susanne Ås Sivborg, Director General, Lantmäteriet.

By Anamika Das & Avneep Dhingra

Can you tell us a little about the history of Lantmäteriet, its current priorities, and areas of focus?

Lantmäteriet is the Swedish mapping, cadastral and land registration authority. It was set up in 1628, as the then king, Gustav II Adolf, wanted to know the geographical details of the country he had inherited. The need to map Sweden arose from the king’s curiosity to know who owned what part of land, as well as what did the country look like, especially since the northern part was scarcely populated. At Lantmäteriet, we have about 2200 employees, and have 50 offices in and around Sweden. We are also quite active in international development initiatives, especially in collaboration with the United Nations. The Swedish government has given us several tasks, including the digitalization of the public sector in the country. We are working with the societal planning and construction sector and are collaborating with different municipalities and regional governments.

One of the prioritized projects of Lantmäteriet involves developing a new processing system for the cadastre authority and municipalities that includes automation and use of advanced technologies. Picture Courtesy: Lantmäteriet

Lantmäteriet’s maps go back nearly 400 years. How has the mapping process evolved over time?

In the 17th century, the king wanted to know what the country looked like, so he assigned the task of drawing maps to famous mathematician Anders Bure. The paper maps that Bure created are still preserved in the archives. In the 18th century, fresh efforts were made to better the maps in terms of detailing, as these maps played a very important role in the development of Sweden. With the help of maps, you not only get to see geographical parts like hills, forests, buildings, roads, etc., but also get to know about how the land has been divided and who owns what. This is where the cadaster comes into play. The king wanted a government organization to take lead, so that taxes could be collected from the landowners. Sweden was to go to war, so there was need for funds, and the king wanted the country to be seen as a strong force in northern Europe.

So, we continued to produce paper maps even after the 18th century, and these maps were available on demand — anyone could request a detailed map of an area. The demand for our maps picked up after 1970 and stayed that way until the 21st century. However, as we ushered in the modern era, we stopped making paper maps and concentrated only on producing digital maps, which could be obtained on demand by using the e-service. As of today, there are only a handful of private companies that buy information from us to create paper maps.

Can you shed light on some of the key projects of Lantmäteriet?

We are currently working on the digitalization of the community planning and building process in Sweden and are establishing a dialogue between public and private stakeholders for this purpose. The government has assigned us the task to make sure that we can create a digital process for the future. Some of the key factors in setting up this process include standardization of data and ensuring its accessibility, safety, and security. We are also developing our own competence in digitalization, so that we can increase our knowledge and understanding and extend its benefits to all parties. You can create a digital process, but if the parties involved don’t know how to use it, your job is only half done.  

One of the foundational pillars for the digital community building and planning process is access to standardized and safe geospatial data that has been developed and adopted to be managed with automatic methods to create higher efficiency. Lantmäteriet is responsible for creating a national infrastructure for information supply. The first step towards achieving that objective is to have the datasets of both private parties and municipalities. We launched two datasets at the beginning of this year that are being used by different parties to sign up and add information, as well as consume that information. These datasets are available to everybody via APIs, and we have close collaboration with the system supplies of municipalities. They help us to deliver and consume from national access points, which we call the national geodata platform.

For the moment, one of our most prioritized projects involves developing a new processing system for the cadastre authority and municipalities that involves automation and use of advanced technologies. This will help us to meet the future demands of society and of our customers.

How mature is the concept of public-private partnerships in Sweden, and how frequently do you collaborate with the private industry on key projects?

We do collaborate with both private and public sectors for geospatial data collection. We were tasked by the government to do laser scanning of the forestland of Sweden in collaboration with both the Swedish Forest Authority and the forest industry (private players) to ensure that they have current, reliable and easily accessible data, so that they can work to have more efficient and increased forest production. The forest industry financed one part of this project, and the other part was funded by the Swedish Forest Authority, which means the government. This is a very good example of public-private partnership. In the area of digitalizing the building and planning process of the society, we collaborate with several system suppliers as well as with all the 291 municipalities of Sweden, and we all work in a triangular collaboration.

One of the foundational pillars for the digital community building and planning process is access to standardized and safe geospatial data that has been developed and adopted to be managed with automatic methods to create higher efficiency. Lantmäteriet is responsible for creating a national infrastructure for information supply

How do you define real property, and how does Lantmäteriet ensure an effective and legally secure division of real property?

The concept of real property defined in the Swedish Land Code goes back to 1970, and in it land is divided into real property units. A real property unit is delimited either horizontally or both horizontally and vertically, and special provisions apply to real property formation. So, there is a special law around how you form real property, as unofficial parceling of land is not allowed in Sweden.

The legislation forms the basis for accurate cadastre information, and we have created manuals, handbooks and IT systems for awareness and compliance. We are working on how digitalization can help us make the limits of the real property units as accurate as possible. All changes in the registration rule for the real property are made by us at Lantmäteriet or by one of the 39 municipal cadastre officers. Everything is recorded in the real property register which is managed by us.

Can you shed light on the national strategy for geodata and Agenda 2030, and how are these two in coherence with each other?

We created a Geodata Council a few years ago. It includes all public sector parties working with geospatial data, such as Lantmäteriet, the forest authority, the sea authority, and representatives from municipalities and regional government. Within this council, we have created a national strategy for geodata, which is directly connected with different goals of Agenda 2030. The United Nation and Lantmäteriet worked together and defined 17 goals, where geodata could be used to follow up on the implementation of activities. For example, Goal 6 is about clean water and sanitation, whereas Goal 11 is about sustainable cities and communities. The work we do in digitalization of the community building and planning process is in alignment with the work being done under Goal 11.

Today, there are several international frameworks concerning geospatial data, such as the UN’s Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF). How does the work done by Lantmäteriet align with such frameworks?

The Integrated Geospatial Information Framework is very important to us, and we are among the countries responsible for its creation. We have put a lot of resources into different working groups and plan to use those resources more efficiently in the future, especially in connection to our geodata strategy. It is important for Europe and all other countries in the world to work in accordance with IGIF because it is going to be an important part of development in the future.

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