Dutch Kadaster Tackles European INSPIRE Initiatives for Spatial Data Infrastructure
The Dutch Kadaster
is the agency responsible for managing land records and a host of other
duties for the Netherlands. It is also responsible for maintaining
geospatial information for its participation in the European INSPIRE
program, which is establishing a framework for the EU's spatial data
infrastructure. Editor in Chief Joe Francica spoke with Arco
Groothedde, executive board member of the Cadastre, Land Registry and
Mapping Agency (Kadaster), to better understand how his organization is
Directions Magazine (DM): The Dutch Kadaster has a great deal of
responsibility providing the government of the Netherlands with many
services related to land registry, mapping and planning. Can you
briefly describe the size of the Kadaster organization in terms of
people, technology configuration (hardware and software), and
Arco Groothedde (AG): Kadaster has approximately 2,000 full-time
equivalents. Our head office is located in the center of the
Netherlands, in the city of Apeldoorn. We have six branch offices
throughout the country.
We have registered about eight million parcels, and 20 million
information requests are handled every year. Our prime customers are
the notaries, real estate agents, central and local governments, and
more and more citizens are encountered as customers; especially with
the information delivery service. Besides the typical cadaster and land
registry functions, we create the 1:10,000 map and smaller, and
register cables and pipelines.
In the last two years we've made enormous progress in delivering
geospatial data in several different forms. Web services for base data
delivery ease our customers' work. We expect this to grow exponentially
over the coming years.
DM: How has the Kadaster worked with or adopted the standards put
forth by the INSPIRE initiative to create a countrywide spatial data
infrastructure? Did you have to change your data model to accommodate
AG: INSPIRE did not affect us in that way, needing to change our
data models of infrastructure. We needed to create meta-data Web
services and transformational Web services, for example, the
transformation of address standards and the Dutch national triangular
reference network toward ETRS89. In the early stages we provided
expertise in drafting teams.
DM: What data sets are you required to supply to the INSPIRE
initiative and what data sets are shared with the Kadaster to support
your work? Please explain how you work with other countries to share
AG: INSPIRE has its influence on all Kadaster datasets, for
example, the topographic map, the cadastral map, transport networks,
administrative units and the address register. A national geo portal
(Georegister) was built where all meta-data Web services of the
Netherlands come together.
All this work has been done in close relationship with other European
agencies. EuroGeographics is the European organization of European
cadasters and mapping agencies for standardization and international
cooperation. A product created from EuroGeographics is EuroBoundaryMap.
DM: The world marvels at the engineering talent of the Netherlands,
especially as it plans for and mitigates flooding problems. How much is
the Kadaster involved in supporting these very large engineering
projects and what specific spatial data needs do you have to
accommodate to support these projects?
AG: The Netherlands has a long history in fighting flood problems,
as nearly 40% of our country lies beneath sea level. Only recently has
the power of geographic data been seen as a key component in fighting
and preventing floods. As Kadaster, we try to provide services to
governments at the earliest stages of planning. The combination of
enormous diversity of datasets can create decision support scenarios
for strategic planning. Afterward, the true engineering skills and
detailed planning processing is being performed by the private sector.
DM: Please explain your future plans in moving many geospatial
services to a cloud computing environment. Will it require you to
reconfigure your spatial database or client applications?
AG: We are trying to create the geo part of the cloud. Our datasets
don't need adaptation for the purpose of keeping all relevant data at
their source and make them easily available for different purposes. For
several years now, our strategy has been to create modern Web services.
We used to copy all the data to one central organization that was
creating the services; the modern way of moving forward is delivering
the data through Web services. This is a more flexible and agile way to
help and serve actual situations.
DM: One of the examples you gave in your presentation at the
Intergraph User Conference was a water overflow scenario. What must be
accomplished in terms of political and technical involvement to support
identifying the land in which there may be flooding, and then moving
people and land to accommodate the decisions?
AG: From the political arena comes the first initiative to prevent
future water floods. We provide them with several scenarios to help the
central government to decide on the best way forward. Our job is to
support them. Their job is to lobby and influence. We found out that
with our scenarios the central and local governments were better
prepared where difficulties lay ahead and this speeds up the process.
But in a small country where there is only little space, these
political puzzles remain difficult.
DM: Web services will be a big part of expanding services to various
departments within the Kadaster. What services will you move entirely
to a Web services environment and which ones will you keep as more
robust clients, and why?
AG: Our approach toward Web services is that this is an extra way
of delivering the information, on top of the end-user services provided
by our Web portal, MyKadaster.
It is seen as our task to create easy access to society. A multichannel
approach fits this purpose. We provide services for citizens visiting
us at our offices, by telephone, by SMS services, by mobile devices and
DM: What future software or hardware improvements will be necessary
to support a move to cloud computing? Are you concerned about security,
bandwidth or hardware issues? Please explain.
AG: Images and other rich data will be the future for
geoinformation. The growth in storage possibilities is met by the
technological developments. The network capabilities are close to
meeting the need of exchanging image data. Fiber optic infrastructures
are rolled out in the Netherlands, so bandwidth will be less a problem
than a couple of years ago.
Mobile bandwidth and graphics technology on small devices are still a bit of a problem. This will be a matter of time.
Next to this optimistic view of the future my experience is that in
current projects with a heavy geoinformation and geotechnology
component too often technical ICT [information and communication
technology] performance is an issue. We decided to have special
performance teams and performance specifications built up in the very
early stages of projects. Too often geo projects are run as normal
"administrative" ICT projects. In the end, the limits of technology
(processing power of terrabytes of information within hourly time
frames) create a lot of disappointment or at best, a lot of extra
effort. So let "technical performance" in your new geo project be your
DM: You obviously have a vision for supporting more global
initiatives utilizing geospatial technology. Will you or the INSPIRE
program be able to convince government and other large European Union
organizations of the value of geospatial information? Please give us
AG: The use of geospatial information for societal challenges will
create its own drive forward. Government and European Union efforts are
only needed to support the initiatives. We ourselves are often not
aware that geoinformation is entering all fields of current worldwide
challenges. For example, looking at news broadcasts on television and
having route planning features in our automobiles ... geoinformation
has moved into the living rooms of families and is already a part of
our lives. Who would have thought of this five years ago?