Interview Frank Tierolff
Mapping the situation
The Netherlands’ Cadastre for Land Registry – in short Kadaster – is mainly known for its registration of land, but in 2022 the independent administrative body is mapping more than just national borders. Flevum spoke with chairman of the board Frank Tierolff about the role that the Kadaster plays in the Netherlands and abroad, and how data has come to play a leading role in recent years. Tierolff, a lawyer by background, has been a director of the Kadaster for more than eight years and has a clear vision on social impact.
From registration office to data organization
The Kadaster has a rich history: what once started as a registration office is now an independent administrative body with a broad scope and expertise. Traditionally, the most important pillar is legal aid, but in recent years the applicability of the data has become increasingly important for society. So important that the organization has organized itself as a data organization in recent years. A logical step, according to Tierolff: ”Originally we were a very labor-intensive organization, but digitization has made us more capital-intensive and data- and knowledge-intensive. We collect, validate, register and unlock datasets, which are then turned into products and services.”
This data about real estate and space is of great value. Geo-information can play an important role in various social issues. Think of the energy transition or insight into the housing market.
”The energy transition or 900,000 homes to be built: these issues require space, both above and below ground. With only 34,000 square kilometers of land for more than 17 million people, it is crucial that decision-makers and citizens have the right information. We can provide valuable insights into this space.”
With 15 petabytes of data, it is very important to manage it correctly. Tierolff therefore aimes for a balance between continuity and innovation: the Kadaster works on delivering solid service every day, but also on answering to the demand of tomorrow. New technologies are tested on practicality for the organization and deployed where possible, such as the use of artificial intelligence and point clouds.
In addition to its own datasets, the Kadaster also manages datasets for others, from information about the WOZ to the cables and pipelines. The work remains inextricably linked to legal aid. Equal access to property and space ensures equal information between both parties, and therefore a fair agreement. Most Dutch people know the Land Registry according to the program of the Rijdende Rechter, but the information that the Land Registry provides is relevant to various questions, such as calculating the asking price of a new home or information about the surrounding environment.
“In the Netherlands, we think it is natural that land rights are properly registered and guaranteed. However, 70% worldwide do not have a good land registration. The Kadaster is committed to provide effective land registration and has shared its knowledge and expertise.” Land plays a crucial role in 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) drawn up by the United Nations: from poverty alleviation and ending armed conflict, to access to drinking water. By setting up a land administration, the Land Registry helps landowners to establish their rights, reducing the risk of conflicts and allowing them to sell or lease the land. This lays the foundation for economic growth and development. For example, the Land Registry helped to set up a land administration in Colombia. With the establishment of a land administration, border areas are clearly defined.
Tierolff continues to focus the course of the organization on social impact. He does this together with 2000 passionate employees. Tierolff emphasizes the importance of a clear line of work: “If you want to achieve as much social impact as possible, you have to work together and use and share your knowledge and skills optimally.” Tierolff sees further challenges for the future mainly in managing expectations regarding the performance of new tasks proposed by other parties. “We have to be alert to critically assess the feasibility of new roles and tasks that people want to assign us.”
The chairman of the board, who describes himself as accessible and ‘reasonably assertive’, also recognizes this in the Kadaster’s corporate culture. “We build and trust each other’s expertise and know where to find one another.” The chairman of the board describes his employees as involved, professional and competent. Tierolff is optimistic about the future, in which the applicability of the data for citizens will hold a central place. “There is always room to grow.”
If you would like to get in touch and join a discussion with Frank Tierolff, join his RVB session at June 2nd.