A review into NSW Digital survey plans – the Grosvenor Review

A review into NSW Digital survey plans – the Grosvenor Review
The Client: NSW Department of Customer Service

The NSW Department of Customer Service (DCS) engaged Grosvenor to conduct a review of digital survey plans; the three main objectives of the review were to:

  • explore and explain why uptake of digital plans has remained low
  • to identify what opportunities exist for the digitisation of plans
  • provide recommendations on the best way to progress digital plans such that benefits to surveyors, Government and other plan users are maximised

This review was part of the digital reforms process that the NSW is committed to enhancing the customer experience and survey delivery for the people and businesses of New South Wales.

How we helped

We engaged relevant stakeholders, who would benefit from this review, which re-enforced a need for a review into the digitisation of the DCS’s original digitisation effort. Efforts have been made to digitise the process of survey plan creation through to registration over the past decade, primarily through the online lodgement of plans through the ePlan portal and the introduction of the LandXML (LXML) smart digital file format. Update for this format has remained low, with only approximately 5% of plans lodged in LXML.

Stakeholders recognised that the initial attempt to introduce LXML did not sufficiently consider the views of the surveying industry. Grosvenor’s review of the Digital Survey Plans, identified three key consistent themes, namely: improving efficiency, accuracy and customer service. The most salient prospect to achieve these included the following:

  • Pre-populated documents (with automated validation) and easily ingestible metadata
    • this will reduce manual data entry requirements for all stakeholders and improve accuracy through minimising typographic errors
  • Digital signatures and a portal for managing associated documents
    • this will reduce time currently spent on administering physical ‘wet’ signatures and enable approvals to occur in parallel, resulting in increased speed of registration and improved transparency of the process for customers
  • Smart plan data for automated validations and examination
    • this will facilitate improved accuracy, more efficient examination and faster registration (through lower requisitions); in turn, reducing the risk of professional indemnity and Torrens Assurance Fund claims, as well as improving the accuracy and usefulness of the NSW Spatial Cadastre. Smart plan data may also enhance survey practice by including additional boundary evidence (such as photos) and should be easily accessible for surveyors to assist in plan preparation

Ultimately these will all contribute to faster land access and reduced costs for homebuyers.

The results

We identified a number of ‘pain points’ that hampered NSW DCS’s move to digital plans in the past, and how the DCS approaches must not deal with these points directly. As a result of delivering our report, which can be read here, via the NSW Office of the Registrar General’s own site, we recommended a four-step, high-level roadmap to progress digitalisation, the full roadmap can be found below:

  1. Confirm outcomes: the overarching aim of the digital survey plans reform should be agreed upon and articulated to guide design and implementation and inform communications with stakeholders, particularly surveyors who need to be convinced of the benefit of digital plans. This will also prevent the perception of digital for digital’s sake and ensure efficiency, accuracy and customer service (or other agreed outcomes) remain central tenets for any change initiatives.
  2. Agree on governance: clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities should be established; this would likely include LRS for solution design and implementation and DCS for governance and policy as well as stakeholder engagement and communications.
  3. Design solutions: technical solutions should be designed for three main areas, deposited plans, strata plans and approvals and associated documents. The designs should address the current issues and opportunities raised by stakeholders and be cognisant of other programs such as ‘Re-imagining plans’, ePlanning and Cadastre 2034. An assessment framework (which considers impact alignment to user needs and ease of implementation) has been proposed within this report to assist in solution design and evaluation. The final designs should be compared and prioritised prior to implementation. This may include a multi-stream approach where solutions for simpler elements are implemented while the more complex design remains ongoing – however, it is likely that the interdependencies between elements will require a somewhat unified approach. Consultation and continued engagement with surveyors and other industry stakeholders should be maintained throughout the solution design phase.
  4. Implement solutions: Once the technical solutions have been proposed and the assessment framework has been used to understand their impact and feasibility, changes should be prioritised for implementation. Equity of change should be considered to ensure disadvantages to stakeholder groups (e.g. rural vs metro, big vs small firms, large greenfield development vs two-lot subdivision) are minimised where possible. Likewise, change management elements must be adopted including continued stakeholder engagement, codesign, pilot-testing and staged implementation, as well as support for users with high barriers to uptake. Mandating and legislative changes may be required, depending on the technical solution. In the case of mandating, an appropriate notice period should be given with the timing designed with, and agreed upon, by industry representatives

Following the ‘Grosvenor Review’, the NSW Registrar General now has a governance framework in place to drive this reform forward. Implementation of a ‘Steering Committee’, and a ‘Consultative Committee’ of industry representative to provide deep expertise to this process, and assist in stakeholder consultation.

NSW Land Registry Services is preparing an implementation roadmap to deliver, with industry input, a revised approach to digital survey plans. And, over the coming months, conducting a ‘requirements gathering’ exercise to identify from stakeholder, what is needed in a plan.

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