Digital Mapping Launch: Address by Catherine Treacy Chief Executive & Registrar of Deeds and Titles

 

On behalf of all the staff in the Registries, I would like to extend a warm welcome to the Minister, our many guests and our partners in the Digital Mapping project on which we are embarking. I would like to congratulate the Minister at the outset for his enthusiasm for reform in the area of Conveyancing law generally which he has demonstrated through his support for the work of the Law Reform Commission with whom the Land Registry are working closely. I would also like to thank him for prioritising the technical legislative changes necessary to underpin and facilitate the radical modernisation process which is now so far advanced in the Registries involving the computerisation of our records and processes. 

Confidence in the registration system has always been central to the effective operation of the Land Registry and a high standard of legal and technical knowledge continues to be crucial in underpinning impartial and informed decision-making involving the property rights of citizens. Such historic and ongoing probity and quality of decision-making will be appreciated when looked at in the context of the value of the commodity with which the Registries deal. The value of the national housing stock alone - the vast majority of which is registered in the Land Registry - has been independently estimated to be over €300 billion with well over €50 billion worth of mortgages registered. The Registries of course are also responsible for registering large amounts of commercial and industrial premises and farming properties.

The facts emanating from the various tribunals have left many citizens disillusioned. We owe a debt of gratitude therefore to all those who have been involved in the Irish Registration systems, in the case of the Registry of Deeds since 1707 and the Land Registry since 1891. It places a heavy onus on all of us to continue working to ensure that the integrity of our registration systems, which has never been impugned, will be maintained and indeed will continue to be central to the Registries ongoing modernisation programme.

The need for speed of delivery of this quality service, combined with increased ease of access, as is the case in all areas of modern life, have become even more essential in our fast moving world and have in fact been the strategic drivers behind the current programme of modernisation. In the Land Registry, as in other public and private sector organisations, information and communications technologies (ICT) have become a key enabler in this quest to deliver improved customer services.

A major development came about in this regard with the preparation of a comprehensive Strategic Plan for implementing Information Systems across the organisation. The purpose of the plan was to link the business goals and objectives of the organisation with the optimum technological requirements and organisational functions to enable better usage of existing and future resources. The plan identified some 32 projects, specified the associated investment requirements and provided a blueprint for their implementation on a phased basis over several years. As has been observed, while the 10 commandments were put together relatively quickly, they still haven’t been fully implemented! What has become therefore of the Registries comprehensive 32 Project plan? Well I am delighted to be able to put on the record here today that this strategic plan, with a clear delivery timetables, has acted as the guiding force since the first new systems were rolled out in 1993, through to the major projects successfully implemented in recent years. Of the 32 different projects encompassed in the original plan, virtually all have now been completed.

Integrated Title Registration Information System (ITRIS):
Registry staff now use a computerised system known as the Integrated Title Registration Information System (ITRIS), to process applications electronically. Effectively what occurred was a move from a paper register to a system of electronic registration, which has paid rich dividends. In terms of registrations of legal transactions, we have moved from a position at the beginning of this plan where the Registries were receiving approximately 7,000 cases a month, and unable to deal with them, to a situation today where almost 20,000 cases for registration a month are received and dealt with - a position which would have been impossible under the paper based system.

Document Imaging Project:
A crucial task to be achieved and a major project undertaken was the conversion of over 110 years of historical paper records into electronic format.  Irreplaceable legal records were thus secured, ensuring Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery arrangements.

Electronic Access Service:

The successful implementation of the Land Registry Electronic Access Service (EAS) provided on-line access, over the World Wide Web (www.landregistry.ie), to the organisation's computerised database of folios and related indices.
Authorised users from the convenience of their own offices are now able to:

  • Conduct on-line searches of the electronically available register, by reference to one or more search criteria, such as name of registered owner
  • View and print ownership records
  • Discover the applications or transactions pending against a particular property
  • Track the progress of their applications through their lifecycle in the Registry
  • Apply for certified copies of various records
  • Prepare and submit applications for registration/complete lodgement forms


    Usage: 
    The real test of the success of this project is the level of customer usage which continues to grow steadily. Both the volume of users and the level of transactions continue to be well ahead of projections.
    We have now reached a position where more than:
  • An estimated 80% of the Land Registry's potential customer base are now accessing some services through the EAS
  • Over 80% of applications for copy folios and filed plans are made on-line
  • Virtually all folio and filed plan inspections and names index searches are conducted on-line
  • Almost 4,000 on-line business transactions per day are being conducted through the EAS.
  • 86% of these services are conducted fully on a self-service basis.
Since the service was launched over 2 million transactions have been undertaken and we expect that during 2005 alone we will reach 1 million for the year. Our computerised projects to date therefore in the Registries have
  1. Reshaped the manner in which we process cases, resulting in major productivity gains.
  2. Provided the means for external access by our customers to our electronic records and  
  3. The Imaging Project has fulfilled a business continuity/ disaster recovery imperative. The vital national resource of titles records, map records (filed plans) and names index records etc, the use of which the title administration system depends, have been computerised and captured for posterity. 
All of the major systems implemented are fully integrated with one another and feed into and supply information through a management information system and financial information system. A holistic approach to implementation therefore has been adopted successfully, which has insured a cohesive approach to delivering services.
The Registries therefore are now a thoroughly modern office, a fact recognised by independent assessors of the Registries reform programme. On my left you will see a display of awards that the Registries have won in the last 12 months.At an award ceremony of National Showcases in Public Service Excellence in Dublin Castle in July 2004 the Taoiseach presented awards to a number of areas within the Civil and Public Service in recognition of their innovative projects and the excellence of their service to customers.  The Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds were one of the award winners in respect of our Electronic Services.  The second award was presented to the Land Registry as the winners of the Central Government category at the Public Service awards ceremony in February this year.  This category was one of seven and included all Government departments and offices.The third award was the crème de la crème of awards as the Registries were chosen from more than 260 entries as the overall winners in the Best E-Government category. Entries included the entire spectrum of the Public Sector in Ireland – the Universities, commercial semi-state companies, local authorities, Government departments and offices, etc. This highly prestigious recognition is the culmination of many years of planning and implementation involving a collaborative approach, which included our staff, our customers and other stakeholders and our technology partners.    In making their decision the independent panel of judges considered that our organisation has "demonstrated outstanding commitment and innovation in its approach to implementing eGovernment services in Ireland".These awards were a timely recognition and a great compliment to all of the staff of the Registries who have contributed to the overall modernisation of our services and the major improved levels of productivity. The awards process provided a very credible benchmarking facility which enabled the Registries to be compared with the very best and the result were most heartening.

E-Conveyancing:  
All of the work undertaken in the Registries to date has lead to a position where, when the digital map project is completed, there will be a full e-registration system within the Registries. The availability of an electronic register has, of course, been an essential pre-requisite for e-conveyancing. The planning and implementation work undertaken in recent years has placed the organisation in an excellent position therefore to play a pivotal role in the successful implementation of an wider electronic conveyancing project in Ireland, and the Registries will continue to work with the Law Reform Commission and the Minister towards this objective. Extension of title registration is part of the current Strategic Plan of the Registries. Because registered land lends itself better to electronic services, progress in this regard will become increasingly important. I hope to be in a position to put forward proposals to the Minister in this regard in the very near future.

Digital Map:  
The one remaining project to be implemented from the 32 projects outlined in the Registries Strategic Plan is Digital Mapping and this project is of course essential to ensure that the wider e-conveyancing project becomes a reality. It will undoubtedly bring its own challenges and those involved have a high standard to follow if the successes of the previous projects are to be repeated. The new system will, when implemented and in conjunction with the existing technology platforms, provide the Land Registry with a world-class suite of technology to support the internal processing of casework by its staff and the delivery of land-related information to its customers. This will place the Land Registry in the vanguard of international developments in the land registration domain. This project has an added imperative or driver with international developments such as the European Land Information Service (EULIS). This seeks to make available land information in respect of all European countries in order to facilitate international transactions regarding property and finance. Digital Mapping will also support the initiatives of the Irish Spatial Data Infrastructure (ISDI). The digital mapping programme will provide a more secure medium for our unique and invaluable information, and advance one of our key strategic objectives- to provide a better delivery of service to our customers. This programme will be integrated with and fully complementary with the existing ITRIS, DIMS and EAS systems. I am delighted therefore today to invite Minister Mc Dowell to launch this exciting project….