South Australia has many claims to fame. It’s one of the country’s most famous wine regions, its the world’s largest producer of opals and its capital is known as the ‘City of Churches’.

But a little-known fact about South Australia is that it’s home to the nation’s most robust and modern land parcel management system.

As the first Australian state to fully transition to Esri’s Parcel Fabric solution to support the management of their land and cadastre, SA’s Land Boundaries Group now enjoy streamlined workflows, improved management of cadastral data, and an intuitive editing and updating system.

For example, it used to take one week for six staff to process 80 plans (which equates to approximately 300 parcels) – however now, the same volume can be processed in just one-and-a-half-days (and with less staff).

Caroline Jackman, GIS Specialist at the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI), shares insight into their Parcel Fabric solution, and discusses where to next for cadastral management in South Australia – including how a robust cadastre is essential in supporting the asset management programs for organisations such as SA Water and SA Power.

Tell us about the evolution of South Australia’s Parcel Fabric project?

Caroline Jackman: We first began using Parcel Fabric almost a decade ago – and it was a significant project as it required us to transfer all the old data and processes for storing information on survey boundaries, land parcels and cadastre into a completely new system.

We were one of the earliest adopters of the Parcel Fabric solution in the world – and actually the largest geographic area at that time that was using the technology for this purpose – so we worked in partnership with Esri’s technology developers to create, implement and test all the tools and ensure a smooth migration of our existing data. It was an all-hands-on-deck project, and I remember the Esri team was literally writing the code as we transferred it across. It was a very worthwhile process though, as it helped ensure that our needs were met in terms of the solutions functionality.

What were the biggest hurdles in implementing the solution?

When we first proposed using Parcel Fabric, we came up with opposition from some stakeholder groups – like utilities, asset managers and councils – as they were worried that if we changed how we managed boundaries and land parcels, it would negatively impact their own networks and programs.

We overcame this hurdle by doing some client consultation to explain the benefits they would experience in terms of more accurate records and more efficient services. We also began with a pilot project to update 170,000 parcels in the metropolitan area – to ensure it was a staged transition. Finally, we informed everyone of calculated shifts in the fabric for before and after, so we could have rubber sheeting in place. Taking this measured approach ensured a more seamless migration and adoption. Ultimately it was a case of some short-term pain, for long-term gain, not only for us but also for our stakeholder organisations.

How does the solution work for DPTI today?

Caroline Jackman: We use it to manage and maintain all the current cadastre, as well to improve and adjust the accuracy and coverage of the state’s land records. We’ve actually just started an improvement project, which is not about back capturing data, but instead using the technology to improve the existing data we have. One of the greatest strengths of Parcel Fabric is that it allows us to intuitively improve the cadastre. So as an example, if a residential property’s boundary is out by five metres, we can use the technology to identify and rectify that issue, to bring the variance back to within half a metre. In metropolitan areas, we can usually bring that down even further, to just 3 centimetres.  

What are some of the efficiency gains your team has experienced as a result of implementing Parcel Fabric?

Caroline Jackman: In terms of metrics, we’ve experienced significant efficiency gains in how long it takes us to update records. For example, in a typical week we receive 80 new plans (which is approximately 300 parcels) to enter into the cadastre. Prior to using Parcel Fabric, it used to take all week for six people to complete this process. Now – we get the same volume done in one-and-a-half days, with only four or five people working on them. Apart from being more efficient, it frees us up to work on other spatial improvement projects with the same staffing.

Outside of traditional parcel land management and surveying, how is this solution delivering value to South Australians?

Caroline Jackman: By using Parcel Fabric to improve our data, we’re able to better support the work of some of the state’s largest public and private organisations. For example, reliance on spatial accuracy is paramount to many asset management organisations such as SA Water and SA Power Network, as well as councils responsible for maintaining various assets.

Where to next for land management in South Australia?

The Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping’s (ICSM) Cadastre 2034 strategy aims to improve the management and accuracy of all land parcels nationwide – so this has most state and territory governments on the verge of reforming their cadastral systems. In South Australia, the Parcel Fabric solution has us on-track to do this.

Then of course, there’s GDA2020 which requires a shift to Australia’s new official national datum. I think this future adjustment will be a lot easier for us than for many of the other land agencies, as we already have the Parcel Fabric in place, which takes out some of the complexity. We still need to fully scope the project, but other than needing to carry all our data across, we expect most of our processes will go along the same as before.

There’s also our Property Location Browser which is a free map-based application where you can view land administration boundaries and access land ownership data.

For more about the practices of other land management and administration agencies, view these case studies.

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