Technology and Land Rights Panel

The application of technology to development challenges is not a new phenomenon, however as technology becomes faster, cheaper and more accessible, there is an ever increasing potential to utilize technology in addressing challenges that have plagued development for years.  The land sector is no exception, with various recent advancements offering the opportunity to utilize game changing, cost effective, scalable approaches that might make the lofty goals outlined in the Voluntary Guidelines a reality for men and women around the globe. The application of new approaches and technology is critical if we are going to close the gap in regards to the estimated 70% of the world which lack documented formal rights to the land they live on.

Earlier this month, the USAID Land Office hosted a panel event entitled “The Digital Landscape: Technology and Land Rights,” which I was delighted to join. Over the course of the discussion the role of technology and land administration was discussed, with a focus on tools currently being piloted – such as drone imagery, the use of mobile applications for documenting rights, and open platforms for mapping and documenting rights (like we have developed at Cadasta).

From my perspective, a key takeaway from the discussion was the understanding that while technology can be used as an effective means to more efficiently and transparently address land administration challenges, technology in itself is not a panacea.  Technology must be fit for purpose and can only be truly effective only when implemented in conjunction with capacity building of end users, business process re-engineering, and modernization of out dated regulations, policies and laws.

We invite you to view the discussion and let us know what technologies might have been overlooked, and to share examples of tools being used in the field to more effectively and efficiently document property rights.

Many thanks to the USAID Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment for hosting, Bhanu Rekha of Geospatial Media for moderating,The Cloudburst Group for organizing and of course my co-panelists, Lisa Kay Lewis of Thomson Reuters and Ioana Bouvier of the USAID Land Team for joining me on the panel.  Finally many thanks to those who participated in person or online.