Transform – business improvement program
‘Transform’ is Landgate’s business improvement program which comprises a series of technology, process and workforce reforms to ensure Landgate can deliver optimal value now and into the future. Initiated in 2014, Transform has progressively implemented a number of successful initiatives that are profoundly changing the way Landgate does business.
Review of our operating model
Transform completed a review of the structures, processes and technology for about 80 per cent of the business to identify opportunities for improvement. The review considered Landgate’s operational and shared services functions and identified ways to enhance workforce capability, strengthen customer focus and ensure the efficient and effective delivery of these services into the future. As a result, new operating models, including new structures, were developed for each area to optimise performance and service delivery.
To complement the transition to new structures, Landgate initiated a voluntary severance program for employees in November 2015. The aim was to minimise the number of employees displaced in the transition to new structures. The program resulted in over 100 employees accepting a voluntary severance, delivering significant salary savings. The transition to new structures and roles began in February and will becompleted in the first quarter of 2016/17.
Overall, the restructure will result in salary savings of $15.5 million per annum from the 2016/17 financial year and total salary savings of $79 million over the next five years.
Reform of registrations
Registrations reform focuses on replacing Landgate’s system and improving associated business processes required to manage the WA Titles Register. During the year, Landgate implemented a new land registration system (NLR), which has resulted in cost savings and efficiency gains in the registration process through automation.
The system is cloud-based and supports the shift from paper-based lodgement processes to e-conveyancing through the first national digital property exchange, PEXA. Since December 2015, Landgate has been able to examine and register mortgages, discharges, transfers, caveats and withdrawal of caveats in a fully digital environment. As a result, processing times have reduced from up to seven days to as little as 23 seconds. In addition, the integrity of the register has been strengthened through automation of lodgement validation and error correction processes.
Further benefits of the new system include reduced turnaround times for Landgate customers and improved overall accuracy of the WA titles register.
In addition, automation has allowed Landgate to reduce overall employee numbers and introduce more flexible work practices. Automation positions Landgate to more easily deal with peaks of business activity without the need to employ more staff.
As at 30 June 2016, over 200,000 transactions were processed by the new system and the number of documents awaiting processing fell by half.
Reform of plan lodgement
Landgate’s spatial cadastral database (SCDB) contains information about land parcel boundaries for all freehold and Crown land within WA. Preparatory work for reform of the system and associated processes responsible for preparing, lodging and managing plans in the SCDB were completed during the year. With functional, technical and legal aspects of the new system finalised, the first release went live in July 2016.
The new plan lodgement system streamlines the way survey plans are lodged by introducing a digital validation service for surveyors. This will enable surveyors to check that plans conform with survey standards before lodging them with Landgate. It will also enable electronic lodgement, increasing efficiency for both Landgate and its customers.
A further benefit of the new system is the digitisation of plan lodgements, which will streamline processes and improve turnaround times for issuing Certificates of Title for new lots in developments. The changes follow extensive consultation with the surveying industry and Landgate will continue to work closely with industry to ensure the ongoing success of the project.
Keeping customers at the heart of everything we do
The impact of Landgate’s business improvement program resulted in a record customer satisfaction rating for Landgate in 2015/16 of 80 per cent.
During the year, our customer relationship management (CRM) system was integrated with our telephone and new land registration systems. This provides a history of our customer interactions by recording details of customer phone calls in the CRM. Through this information, Landgate can better anticipate future needs of customers and resolve queries more efficiently. In addition, integrating the new land registration system with the CRM has provided a way to better manage our communications to customers about the status of land title transactions.
The upskilling of customer service employees to respond to a wider range of customer queries has helped to ensure they are resolved at the first point of contact.
Electronic conveyancing (e-conveyancing) is a process for completing property transactions electronically in a paperless environment. This includes the creation and lodgement of land title dealings for registration and the electronic settlement of funds.
Landgate’s leadership role in encouraging the adoption of e-conveyancing continued during the year, with industry workshops and presentations on legislative requirements, and helping PEXA to familiarise new subscribers with the national e-conveyancing platform. The number of transactions conducted electronically through PEXA showed a gradual but sustained increase over the year, with over 5,000 transactions lodged electronically in WA.
Preparatory work was completed to mandate the use of electronic channels for simple mortgage and discharge of mortgage transactions starting early in 2016/17. The verification of identity practices in place for e-transactions was extended to paper transactions and planned amendments to the Transfer of Land Act 1893 will remove duplicate Certificates of Title, resulting in increased security and protection against fraud.
Land registry commercialisation project (Advara)
The land registry commercialisation project, sponsored by Landgate’s Innovation Program, reached a significant milestone during the year with Cabinet’s approval of the creation of a new company called Advara.
The project was established to respond to the challenge of potentially disruptive trends in the national and international land registry market and to enable Landgate to pursue growth opportunities in other jurisdictions. It resulted in the creation of Advara, through which Landgate and its partners will seek to leverage Landgate’s new land registry platform to deliver services in other jurisdictions.
Incorporated in December 2015, Advara will pursue commercial opportunities in other markets and reduce the cost of IT services to Landgate in the future. As at 30 June 2016, Landgate owned 100 per cent of shares in Advara.
'Advara' is a name made from two Latin words. Ad: meaning ‘towards/forward’. Vara: meaning a unit of linear measurement or area. Advara was designed to inspire confidence and the meanings behind the name are relevant to the new company’s innovative and confident approach.
SPUR, Landgate’s new location and innovation hub that promotes collaboration, stimulation and acceleration of new ideas, was launched by the Minister for Lands Terry Redman in April.
SPUR supports innovators – such as technology-based businesses, start-up companies, the location industry, the education sector and government – by providing them with access to government data, including information relating to property, roads, imagery and geography.
The creation of the hub was a strategic priority for Landgate in 2015/16 and a key component of the government’s Location Information Strategy (LIS) for WA. SPUR builds on the success of the LIS program and Landgate’s Shared Location Information Platform (SLIP) by harnessing existing and emerging location technology capabilities to deliver greater economic and social benefits for the state.
Scoring an early success, SPUR provided the catalyst for the development of a mobile device application for the real estate industry. The ‘PropertySMS’ app was developed through a SPUR developer’s licence, allowing Landgate’s property and sales data to be integrated into the app at reduced cost.
'SPUR' meaning anything that impels, or urges, as to action, speed or achievement.
Location Information Strategy
Maximising the value of location information to the state is the key objective of the LIS. From 2016/17, the objectives and benefits of the strategy will continue to be driven by Landgate through its new SPUR capability. The following projects outline key achievements for Stage 1 of the strategy.
Shared Location Information Platform (SLIP)
SLIP underpins the delivery of the LIS by providing access to a single source of location information, reducing costs associated with duplication across government. With SLIP, shared access to land and property information is economical, faster and simpler. Thousands of datasets have been packaged together by Landgate and its partners in SLIP to make it easy to bring together location information to view and share through maps or use in geographical information systems (GIS) and other business applications.
During the year, Landgate has delivered 50 new SLIP services to customers across the public, private and research sectors. SLIP also successfully transitioned from the Google Maps Engine (GME) content management system to a cloud-based Esri platform. Strong demand for SLIP services – up to 750,000 page views per month – continued throughout the transition.
New SLIP services were also used to support the South- West Native Title Settlement, the most comprehensive native title agreement in Australian history. This historic agreement involved around 30,000 Noongar people and covered about 200,000 square kilometres. SLIP enabled the Department of Lands, the South-West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council and the Department of Mines and Petroleum a shared view of the same up-to-date information. This significantly reduced the time and effort involved in exchanging and analysing interests in Crown land being negotiated as part of the agreement.
Open data WA
The state government’s new Open Data Policy, launched in July, aims to improve management and use of public sector data assets. Landgate has committed to develop and implement the policy on behalf of the government.
While WA is not lacking good, publicly available government data, until now it has only been discoverable by visiting individual agency websites, or accessing it from isolated portals. In accordance with the new policy, data was extracted from Landgate’s SLIP platform, combined with 800 datasets from over 30 agencies and made accessible through data.wa.gov.au, the new portal for open data in Western Australia.
Launched at a GovHack event in September 2015, this portal is central to the implementation of the policy. During the year, Landgate provided regular training and seminar events for the public sector to assist other agencies in making more data discoverable and accessible through the new data portal.
The Capture WA program delivers a coordinated approach to the capture of updated location information, such as aerial and satellite imagery, across the state.
Data requested through the program provides an opportunity to drive decision making on important issues such as climate change, planning, mining and health. The coordinated program allows for greater capture, sharing and reduced duplication among government organisations.
In June 2016, the accelerated imagery capture of regional centres through the Royalties for Regions program concluded. Imagery over larger population centres is now updated more frequently, with updates occurring within two years compared to five or more years previously. New satellite imagery has also been captured and delivered over much of the rest of the state.
Supply arrangements for new services through Capture WA have been established, with effect from 1 July 2016. This provides greater opportunity to improve the efficiency of data capture across government.
Regional and Urban Scenario Planning
The Regional and Urban Scenario Planning (RUSP) program is part of the LIS being implemented by Landgate. RUSP seeks to develop whole-of-government scenario modelling and analysis capability as well as enhance access to new and improved geospatial datasets.
As part of the RUSP program, Landgate launched a new service called Plan WA, which leverages new SLIP services. A range of additional datasets was also published by the Department of Planning to SLIP and data.wa.gov.au for re-use by others.
Another project within the RUSP program, the Coastal Vulnerability project – led by the Department of Transport – delivered several new datasets to the marine and coastal engineering community and local government through data.wa.gov.au and SLIP. This greatly enhanced the access to data needed to manage the vulnerability of coastal communities to severe weather and climate events.
The implementation of a scenario-planning tool was managed by the Department of Planning, with support from the Department of Regional Development. Although a tender for a scenario-planning tool went to market in November 2015, this work did not proceed through the LIS. However, through SPUR, Landgate has been able to support the provision of scenario-planning capabilities, which has provided services to a number of regional development commissions.
HackED, GovHack and GovCamp
Landgate continued to demonstrate its commitment to industry and the community through three special events in 2015/16.
HackED is an education program organised and sponsored by Landgate to engage tomorrow’s workforce with the power of location data and applications. HackED was launched during the year, with the first junior ‘hack’ event taking place in August 2015. About 120 students in 24 teams from seven schools across Perth competed, developing map-based apps using SLIP to help solve a range of problems. Based on the success of the first event, a second HackED event is scheduled for August 2016.
GovHack is about developing great things with open government data. It is where programmers, designers, entrepreneurs and open data enthusiasts come together to develop innovative solutions to business and community challenges. In July 2015, 140 data hackers took part in GovHack Perth 2015, which was held at the Spacecubed co-working and innovation centre. The weekend event involved hackers forming groups and using data accessed through SLIP as the creative spark for innovative projects. In August 2015, just weeks after the launch of the Open Data Policy, WA was recognised for the success of the event, winning Best Government Participation Award at the first international GovHack Red Carpet Awards in Sydney.
Landgate continued its contribution to innovation across government this year through its support of GovCamp 2015. The event was held in Perth in July and brought together experts from across government, private, academic and community sectors. The focus of the event was how to nurture innovation to create a better public sector.
Landgate is a leader and key supporter of innovation, research and development, both internally and across government and industry. The land registry commercialisation project (Advara) and Kaggle projects were developed through the Innovation Program to help achieve Landgate’s strategic objectives. These projects have the potential to deliver significant growth and productivity gains to the people of WA.
Landgate processes over 1.3 million property valuations in WA, along with other services, for local government authorities to determine annual rates and taxes.
In 2015/16 Landgate launched an innovative crowdsourcing competition via Kaggle, an Australian company based in the US, to investigate ways to streamline the valuations process and improve efficiencies in our property valuations area. Landgate engaged the expertise of Kaggle’s top data scientists to improve on our existing property valuation model. The Kaggle competition resulted in 60 teams vying to provide the best property valuation solution. The selected model has formed the basis for the development of a ‘proof-of-concept’ tool, currently being assessed and tested prior to implementation.
Harnessing knowledge through innovation
The innovation team ran an extremely successful communications and engagement campaign during the year with a series of business challenges introduced through Landgate’s innovation forum. Drawing on the expertise of Landgate’s people, the forum used crowd-sourcing to find solutions to real-world challenges within the agency, encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing.
A highlight was Landgate’s Innovation Month. Held in March, it featured a series of information and workshop sessions for employees. Special guests were invited to speak and run workshops about creative thinking and mindfulness. Innovation Month concluded with a celebratory event and presentation, with the land registry commercialisation project presented with the Innovation of the Year Award for 2016.
The Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) is Landgate’s main vehicle for coordinating spatial research and development. It enables Landgate to be actively involved in research that aligns with its business focus and supports the spatial industry.
In 2015/16, through its engagement with the CRCSI, Landgate contributed strategic, business and technical expertise to research and development programs such as:
spatial infrastructures program – creating value-added applications by exploiting semantic web technologies for next-generation spatial infrastructures
biomass and carbon monitoring system – high-resolution, high-frequency application for use on farms and improved environmental monitoring
positioning program – facilitating precision mining, agriculture and intelligent transport throughout Australia
built infrastructure program – creating new tools and strategies to support sustainable urban planning and built infrastructure and development
earthmine – trialling automated sign detection and system changes in 3D street-level data.
Recognising that the security of land ownership underpins every economy, Landgate shares its expertise in land administration with developing countries.
In 2015/16 Landgate delivered two successful Australian Award Fellowship programs under sponsorship by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. These programs aim to build capability and foster relationships with developing nations in the Asia–Pacific and African regions. In September and November, Landgate shared its location information expertise with a total of 20 visiting fellows from Ghana and Sri Lanka. Landgate also hosted study tours for delegates from South Africa, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Afghanistan.
Enhanced valuation tools
The state Valuer-General is required to maintain valuations of all rateable land in WA for rating and taxing purposes. Local council rates are predominantly determined using gross rental values (GRVs), which are assessed by Landgate valuers.
Landgate valuers trialled an enhanced residential rent analysis tool, resulting in a 10 per cent reduction in time spent on rent analysis and value assessment. This saving allows valuers to redirect time to more complex aspects of the valuation program.
Development continued on an online mobile mapping tool for land valuers. The tool improves efficiency by allowing valuers to create, store and manage maps, applications and data in a digital environment, alleviating largely manual paper-based processes. Using mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets, valuers can digitally share, update and capture property information, including photos and videos. This delivers further benefits by allowing valuers to update property records while ‘on the road’.
Strata Titles Act 1985 reform
Based on current trends, it is predicted that WA’s population will increase to between 4.4 and 5.6 million by 2056 and more housing options will be required to cater for this growth.
Landgate has been tasked to deliver reforms to WA’s Strata Titles Act 1985 as a priority to allow more flexibility in strata developments and provide for better community environments. The reforms will ensure the state has a modern legislative and regulatory environment to better meet its future housing needs, particularly in light of population growth and declining housing affordability.
Over the past 12 months, extensive work and consultation was completed to deliver the final recommendations for reform. A submission to request approval for drafting of a Bill to amend the Strata Titles Act 1985 and the accompanying drafting instructions was delivered to Cabinet.
Cabinet gave approval to draft the legislation. The drafting priority assigned to the Bill at the time of Cabinet approval indicated the Bill may be introduced to Parliament in the second half of 2016. However, due to the size and complexity of the reforms, the Bill will not be able to be introduced before the end of 2016.
Despite the delayed legislative timeline, Landgate has continued to support the drafting process and consult with key stakeholders about the reforms, including peak property industry bodies and government agencies.
In addition, Landgate continued to identify internal business requirements needed to support the legislative reforms, including changes to systems and processes. Implementation of these system changes will be reviewed in 2016/17 when the legislative timeframe is finalised.
Sale of Land Act 1970 amendments
During the year, Landgate progressed amendments to the Sale of Land Act 1970 to support the timely release of new subdivided property lots, while providing better protection for buyers.
A Supreme Court decision in 2014 – known as the ‘Barker Decision’ – led to legal uncertainty about the enforceability of sales contracts if they were signed before the developer owned the land. This was detrimental to the property industry with banks reluctant to lend money in these circumstances.
The Sale of Land Amendment Bill 2016 – introduced in Parliament on 23 June – will ensure that the Act continues to deliver protection to consumers by clearly stating the obligations of developers and buyers when the developer is not the registered owner of the land at the time of sale. The amendments will also provide certainty to land developers, supporting the ongoing timely release of affordable new lots into the market.
Landgate worked closely with the Department of Consumer Protection to make sure the amendments delivered better protections for buyers. Consultation with peak industry bodies has also revealed widespread support for the changes within the property industry.