Transform – business improvement program
Landgate is fundamentally changing the way it does business to deliver an even more efficient and effective service to customers. In 2016/17 Landgate continued to deliver technology, process and workforce reforms through its business improvement program Transform, which was initiated in 2014.
Review of our operating model
This year, new structures were implemented across approximately half of Landgate’s business, including core operational areas and some corporate support functions. The changes delivered improvements to business processes and introduced new roles and capabilities, with a focus on roles which support Landgate’s future business needs. The new structures were implemented in a staged way to ensure smooth delivery of service, manage salary costs and minimise the potential number of employees displaced as a result of the changes.
Overall, systems, process and technology improvements have enabled Landgate to significantly decrease salary costs while maintaining high levels of service. During the year, Landgate reduced the number of full-time employees by 15% with approximately 100 employees accepting a voluntary severance.
A career transition centre was established to provide training and support to those people who did not secure a role in the new structure and did not accept a voluntary severance. The career transition centre ensures Landgate’s registrable and registered employees are gainfully employed and delivering value, while increasing their skills and experience in order to secure new job opportunities.
Reforms to Landgate’s property and valuations functions commenced towards the end of the financial year, with benefits to be realised in 2017/18. Initial changes to the leadership team were made to separate some functions of the Valuer-General from the day-to-day management of the valuations team, allowing this important role to focus on its vital statutory responsibilities during a period of significant change.
A new structure was designed to deliver a new valuations and property analytics function that will have a greater focus on data quality, analytics, leadership and program management capabilities. The new structure will also allow greater flexibility in the way valuation work programs are resourced and managed across the state, and provide greater career development opportunities for employees.
Improvements to valuations processes were implemented to streamline, automate and digitise manual, paper based valuations processes. Valuation customers are now receiving valuation data through electronic channels rather than paper, enabling faster, more efficient service delivery. For example, gross rental value and unimproved value schedules previously printed and posted to local government and other agencies are now delivered to customers electronically.
Further reform activities for the valuations and property analytics function are planned whilst ensuring customer service and delivery expectations are met.
Design of new structures and opportunities for process and technology improvements for the remaining areas of the business (Finance, Legal Services, Records, Information Management and Procurement) has commenced and these will be implemented in 2017/18.
Reform of title registrations
In 2015, Landgate commenced implementation of its new land registry platform, NLR™, revolutionising the way land transactions are conducted by automating manual, paper-based land registration processes. During the year, Landgate successfully completed implementation of the NLR™, with the WA Titles Register moving to the new system in January.
The transition took place without disruption to customers, and with 100% service availability maintained throughout the changeover period.
The NLR™ was developed to replace Landgate’s ageing land registry system and to support e-conveyancing. The system enables several of Landgate’s transactions - including transfers of ownership, mortgages and discharge of mortgages – to be automated, significantly reducing backlogs and rework and improving the integrity of the titles register.
Over the year enhancements to the NLR™ were implemented to improve the functionality and useability of the system, enabling a further increase in automation. The level of automation introduced by the system has reduced the manual effort associated with the processing of land registry documents. During the year, this enabled Landgate to reduce its employee numbers and extend the use of a more flexible labour model through its business improvement program.
Following the successful transition to the NLR™, Landgate commenced a project which will continue the journey of registration and plan reform into the future. The digital channel extension project looks to progressively increase the digital processing of land registry documents, expanding the types of transactions that can be lodged electronically and retiring Landgate’s legacy document and plan registration systems.
Landgate worked closely with relevant stakeholders including the Australian Registrars National Electronic Conveyancing Council (ARNECC) and other land registries to develop a delivery plan for the project. Preparations to simplify and rationalise the existing number of forms eligible for lodgement also commenced.
Landgate received a Premier’s Award for the New Land Registry (NLR™) project under the Developing the Economy category. The development of the innovative cloud-based computing platform was initiated through Landgate’s Innovation Program. Landgate developed the NLR™ in collaboration with its commercial partner Ajilon.
Reform of plan registrations
Landgate expanded the NLR™ platform to provide functionality that improves the way plans are prepared, lodged and managed in the spatial cadastral database. The first release of the new plan system went live in July 2016, and allows surveyors to electronically lodge simple plans through Landgate’s NLR™.
Since July, additional releases have added greater functionality, enabling all types of plans to be lodged through the new system.
The new system makes the lodgement of plans more efficient for surveyors by introducing a digital validation service that confirms the details of the land being subdivided, to enable lodgement of the plan with Landgate. New tools have also been delivered which enable surveyors to create plans directly with Landgate systems, instead of separate traditional surveyor software packages. This facilitates automated processing for these plans, reducing turnaround times for issuing Certificates of Title for new lots in developments.
Landgate has worked closely with the surveying profession throughout the project and feedback has been positive. A working group was established, comprising seven firms representing the surveying community, who were consulted on the design of each release of the new plan system. The wider surveying community was also consulted on the changes delivered by the system and were provided training on its use.
As of the beginning of June 2017, all surveying firms were lodging plans through the new system. With the technical functionality in place, Landgate’s focus has moved to supporting surveying firms in its use to enable them to realise the time and cost savings the new system can deliver through automation.
Over time, as surveying firms use the full functionality of the new plan system, Landgate anticipates plan approval times for deposited plans and survey strata plans will dramatically decrease. This will result in a significant reduction in industry holding costs for land developers and has the potential to improve housing affordability over time if savings are passed onto the consumer.
Keeping customers at the heart of everything we do
Landgate has continued to identify opportunities to keep customers and the community at the heart of everything we do.
Through its business improvement program, Landgate identified an opportunity to know our customers better in order to deliver change centred on customer needs. To achieve this, Landgate invested in a Customer Relationship Management platform (CRM). The CRM was deployed in 2014/15 and since that time, has been integrated with Landgate’s titling and contact centre systems and is connected to key touch points across the business.
As a result, the number of customer queries able to be resolved at the first point of contact has increased by over 30% to 84%. In addition, customer feedback captured through Landgate’s CRM system has identified opportunities to improve our service offering. This year, in response to customer demand for more self service options, Landgate commenced development of new online tools to make it easier to do business with us online.
Landgate began enhancements to its website to provide an online question and answer tool which guides customers in choosing the correct product or service to meet their needs, tailored to their individual circumstance. A webchat facility was progressed and the development of a number of self-help videos commenced to help answer frequently asked questions in relation to Landgate’s document lodgement processes. These self-service tools will be made available in 2017/18 and provide a more empowering, personalised and efficient customer experience.
Land registry commercialisation project (Advara)
Landgate’s subsidiary company Advara was created in 2015 to provide Landgate’s IT services and pursue commercial opportunities for its new land registry platform (NLR™). This year, following significant preparatory work, Advara commenced operations and began providing IT services to Landgate on 1 December 2016.
In December, Landgate received an exemption from the State Supply Commission’s Open and Effective Competition Policy to award Advara its IT services contract for a five-year period, with a possible two-year extension.
Some members of Landgate’s Corporate Executive team were seconded from their operational roles to Advara. The Corporate Executive worked on bids for up-coming commercialisation opportunities, and prepared Advara as it moved to commence operating as Landgate’s primary IT service provider.
During the year, Landgate’s main technology provider Ajilon Australia Pty Ltd (Ajilon), through its parent company Adecco Holdings Pty Ltd (Adecco), contributed equity and held the minority shareholding in Advara (22%). This public-private partnership ensures alignment of Landgate’s interests with its IT provider and strengthens Advara’s expertise and commercial offerings.
In April, the New South Wales (NSW) government awarded a 35-year concession for the operation of its land registry to Australian Registry Investments (ARI). Advara is ARI’s specialist technology consultant and will use its intellectual property and experience to improve land and titling services in NSW. ARI will commence operations of the NSW Land and Property Information registry services in the 2017/18 financial year.
Advara will continue to seek opportunities to commercialise the NLR™ in the Australian land registry market and potentially internationally as the sector transitions to digital, privatised service delivery models.
e-Conveyancing provides a faster, more secure property transfer process by enabling the exchange of property to occur online through an electronic conveyancing system such as PEXA. PEXA is Australia’s first system for the online lodgement and settlement of property transactions. This year, Landgate has continued to lead education and change management initiatives to help the conveyancing industry transition to a more efficient electronic conveyancing environment.
The ability to realise the benefits of e-conveyancing depends on the number of businesses using the system. Landgate has worked collaboratively with industry to increase the use of e-conveyancing by identifying obstacles and facilitating problem solving. This has been done through Landgate’s representation on ARNECC and its working group, as well as on various industry forums, such as the WA e-Conveyancing Industry Forum and the Landgate and Industry Reference Group. Landgate has also conducted information sessions and supported electronic accreditation training for the conveyancing industry, run by the Australian Institute of Conveyancers WA Division.
Electronic conveyancing was successfully introduced in WA in 2015 for a range of common transactions including some transfers, mortgages, discharge of mortgages, caveats and withdrawal of caveats. Since then, the Registrar of Titles has been working with Landgate to achieve full digital lodgement of all land registration documents.
In August, the Registrar of Titles mandated the use of electronic channels for mortgage and discharge of mortgage documents for residential properties. The next step towards paperless conveyancing is to require additional eligible document types to be lodged electronically.
In October, Landgate, on behalf of the Registrar, published a discussion paper inviting comments on a proposal to require all eligible land registry documents to be lodged electronically. In December, following consultation, the Registrar of Titles advised she will introduce a new Registrar’s Requirement for all eligible land registry documents to be lodged electronically, under Section 182A of the Transfer of Land Act 1893. Landgate has worked to consult with industry on the changes, and held information sessions, including four industry update seminars in April.
Since that time, in consultation with the Minister for Lands and the conveyancing industry, the Registrar of Titles has determined that the best method of requiring eligible land registry documents to be lodged electronically is by regulation under section 181 of the Transfer of Land Act 1893. Landgate expects these regulations to come in to force during the fourth quarter of 2017.
The number of transactions conducted electronically through PEXA showed a moderate increase this year. Following the introduction of a requirement to electronically lodge certain mortgage and discharge documents in August, the number of eligible transactions lodged electronically increased from 8% to 13%.
As at 30 June, 15.6% of eligible transactions were lodged through the e-conveyancing platform, compared to 6.7% last year.
Strata titles reform
Western Australia’s population of 2.62 million is estimated to grow by approximately 600,000 over the next 10 years. Currently, almost 30% of West Australians live in a strata titled property and the trend to community living is growing, with 40% to 50% of land subdivision being for strata developments.
There have been no reforms to WA’s current strata legislation in over 20 years and the state has seen considerable growth in that time. Landgate continued to lead strata title reform to support sufficient, affordable housing and development options into the future.
The reforms will be delivered through the Strata Titles Amendment Bill and the Community Titles Bill. The changes will transform strata titles across the state by creating new and more flexible housing and development options and improve the way strata is managed. They will also deliver new development options that will drive investment and economic growth in WA. The introduction of community title - a new form of strata - will support priority state infrastructure projects such as METRONET and associated station precincts, through the creation of community developments that mix residential, retail and commercial uses. This will enable people to live and work close to public transport.
During the year, Landgate worked with Parliamentary Counsel’s Office to progress drafting of the Strata Titles Amendment Bill, though progress has been slower than anticipated due to the size and complexity of the reforms. Drafting of the Community Titles Bill was also progressed.
Four portions of the Strata Titles Amendment Bill were released to key industry and government stakeholders and their feedback was used to refine the draft. A discussion paper covering regulations for some aspects of the reforms relating to management, dispute resolution and staged development was released to stakeholders for consultation.
Due to the delay in drafting the new legislation, work to implement system and process changes to support the legislative reforms was put on hold. The focus of work remained on drafting of the new legislation, consultation on the regulations and stakeholder education and management.
An information campaign to consult, educate and share information about the reforms with the strata industry and owners of strata lots has continued. Presentations have been provided to members of key industry bodies and members of parliament, while meetings have been held with stakeholder working groups. Regular updates about the reforms continue to be provided, with Landgate‘s website containing comprehensive education material, which is updated as drafting progresses.
There has been strong support for the reforms from all sections of the property industry. The reform recommendations were approved without change by the new State Cabinet in April 2017. The drafting priority assigned to the new legislation indicates the introduction of the Strata Titles Bill and Community Titles Bill into Parliament in the first half of 2018.
Sale of Land Act 1970 amendments
During the year, Landgate led changes to the Sale of Land Act 1970, with the Sale of Land Amendment Act 2016 coming into effect in Western Australia on 3 April 2017.
The changes were made following a Supreme Court decision in 2014 – known as the ‘Barker Decision’ – which led to uncertainty about the enforceability of sales contracts when lots were sold ‘off the plan’. In these instances, lots were sold by developers before they were the registered proprietor, resulting in contractual uncertainty for both buyers and sellers of property.
The Sale of Land Amendment Act 2016 introduced more protection for consumers by more clearly stating the obligations of developers and buyers when the developer is not the registered owner at the time of sale. This provides greater certainty for buyers and sellers of lots ‘off the plan’ and gives greater certainty to land developers, supporting the timely supply of new lots to the market.
These amendments were developed with consultation and support from the property industry and government.
Landgate worked with the Department of Commerce (Consumer Protection) to develop training for the property industry on new practices required by the legislative amendments. Communication material was also provided on Landgate’s corporate website to ensure it was up-to-date with all the relevant information for stakeholders and the general public.
SPUR turns one
SPUR, Landgate’s location and innovation hub, celebrated a year of operation during the year.
Since its launch in April 2016, SPUR has stimulated innovation and new business enterprises needed to diversify and grow the WA economy. The SPUR grants program and developer’s licenses for the access and use of Landgate data, have assisted in helping a number of emerging WA businesses to market.
SPUR has also driven collaboration across government to realise cost savings by improving the way government data is captured, accessed and shared. Through implementation of the State Government’s Open Data Policy, SLIP platform and Capture WA program, SPUR continues to reduce duplication of effort and resources and creates efficiencies in the way location information is collected, managed and used.
Showcasing leadership in innovation
While Landgate has long been recognised as an innovation leader across Western Australia, this year, the agency received national and international recognition for its innovation achievements.
In August, Landgate was named the 22nd most innovative company in Australia in the Australian Financial Review 2016 Most Innovative Companies list.
The list was compiled after rigorous research by a panel of industry experts, who considered Landgate’s overall approach to innovation, as well as two of our initiatives - the New Land Registry and Pastures from Space Plus. There were over 1,000 entries across Australia and only one other government agency, the CSIRO, ranked ahead of Landgate.
The award is a significant achievement for a government agency and recognises Landgate’s innovative culture and achievements. The announcement was made during an awards ceremony in Sydney.
Landgate’s innovative business practices also received global attention, with the agency being selected to participate in a case study developed by Princeton University. Following publication of the case study, Landgate Chief Executive, Jodi Cant was asked to present to Princeton University’s prestigious ‘Innovation for Successful Societies’ program in the United States. Ms Cant travelled to Washington DC and shared the story of Landgate’s journey to becoming an innovative and dynamic business.
Landgate continued to share its innovation expertise across the WA public and private sector, with nine external agencies working with Landgate to develop their own innovation programs.
Inspiring innovation everyday at Landgate
In March, Landgate celebrated Innovation Month, an annual event that showcases and inspires innovative thinking. This year was the most successful yet, with approximately half of Landgate’s people attending an Innovation Month event.
The theme was ‘Innovation: Everyday by Everyone’ in recognition of the impact small changes can make to the success of a business. Over 21 days there were 11 events including speakers from Woodside, Aurecon, Dialog, Bankwest and PwC.
Innovation month concluded with a ‘hack event’, where staff were invited to apply innovative thinking to solve business challenges. People from across the business formed teams and worked collaboratively to develop new ideas and solutions to solving Landgate’s business challenges. The day was energetic and productive and showcased the power of innovation, collaboration and teamwork. The winners of the three official Hack Attack! awards, received innovation funding of $10,000 each to progress development of their business solution.
Landgate reinvigorated its intranet for internal communications, which now includes a Twitter-like newsfeed which averages around 400 views per day. Landgate’s internal online innovation forum was also revamped, with a new ideas management tool that allows for better sharing of ideas and information across the business.
Through the innovation program, a series of recruitment videos were produced which showcased Landgate’s innovative culture to prospective new employees.
Supporting new business in WA
The inaugural round of the SPURonWA grants were awarded in December 2016, providing nine emerging start-up companies with funding towards the development of their location based business.
There were 47 highly competitive proposals for grants received. Nine companies from eight industries, including property, transport and finance were awarded SPURonWA grants of between $6,000 and $15,000. The grants were provided to help accelerate the growth of emerging WA location based businesses. Landgate will continue to work with recipients to develop their businesses in 2017.
One of the grant recipients was Instatruck, a Perth based start-up business that enables users to hire trucks for short jobs by selecting the location, destination, truck and goods to be delivered and watch the delivery in real time. Instatruck used its SPURonWA grant to develop an android platform that matches loads to truck types and track delivery. The success of their Perth based business means they are expanding to the east coast of Australia. Instatruck was named in the top 20 finalists of the Oz App Awards and was the Growth Category winner of the Western Australia Innovator of the Year 2016.
In addition to the grants, SPUR has provided co-working, mentoring and simplified access to data to stimulate and accelerate start-up businesses. SPUR achieved a significant milestone with the launch of the first product to market, PropertySMS, under its start-up assistance program.
Property SMS was launched in November 2016, and is a real estate app which changes the way real estate professionals communicate with their clients. The app sends automated, personalised SMS messages from real estate agents to their contacts, keeping them updated of sales in their area of interest.
A SPUR developer’s licence provided access to Landgate’s property sales data necessary for the app’s performance. The developer’s licence is specially designed for start-ups to avoid costs of retail data which would have prevented the company entering the market. In addition, SPUR provided mentoring and support for the business through its development phase and launch.
Another new business enterprise, BuildingApprovals.com has successfully developed new on-line services using data accessed through a SPUR developer’s license. BuildingApprovals. com are developing a fully automated online building approval system, ensuring a smoother, more efficient planning process for consumers.
SPUR has facilitated the access to government data needed to further develop the online platform, including cadastral data, aerial imagery and Department of Planning zoning codes. BuildingApprovals.com was a SPURonWA grant recipient, and used their grant to fund development of a business marketing strategy.
During the year, BuildingApprovals. com was a beneficiary of Westpac’s “The Business of Tomorrow” program, recognising companies that are capable of shaping Australia’s future.
Improving public sector collaboration and efficiency
Open Data WA
Landgate, through SPUR, continued to lead the implementation of the state government’s open data policy, aimed at improving the management, use and access to the public sector’s data assets.
During 2016/17 WA’s open data service - data.wa.gov.au – continued to grow. Approximately 850 datasets from more than 40 state and local government agencies are now accessible through this one open data service. Landgate released more of its own high value, high quality data to data.wa.gov. au, including 24 of its fundamental land information datasets. These were downloaded over 8,000 times by over 1,300 different customers during the year.
Landgate assisted other WA public sector agencies to publish data online using SLIP and other data services to reduce the duplication of effort and costs. For example, PlanWA from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage draws on open data to help local government, industry and the wider community make planning decisions and understand the impacts of future development.
Shared Location Information Platform (SLIP)
Landgate manages the Shared Location Information Platform (SLIP), which forms part of the technology platform that supports WA’s open data service (data.wa.gov.au). As part of the open data service, SLIP delivers geospatial data and services to reduce duplication of effort and costs for the public and private sectors by providing access to data in one location.
During the year, 185 datasets were added to SLIP, and the WA public sector shared 3,653 spatial datasets through the SLIP service. SLIP data services were accessed nearly 10 million times by the public and over 2,900 by registered users.
Enhancements to SLIP were completed to enable imagery services to be delivered much more rapidly to customers, and to continue to make SLIP services accessible to more Western Australians through popular services like Locate.wa.gov.au.
Work commenced to make it easier for agencies to more easily publish their data for re-use by others through SLIP, and to create shared products, such as a common WA base map, that will further reduce duplication of effort and costs.
The Capture WA program delivers a coordinated approach to the capture of updated location information, such as aerial imagery, across the state. Data captured through the program, and made available through the open data service for re-use across the public sector, is used to support the delivery of major projects and public services.
For example, Landgate and the Public Transport Authority collaborated to identify an opportunity to use the Capture WA program. This resulted in significant cost savings being achieved for the capture of aerial imagery over the south-west rail network.
In 2016-17 Landgate coordinated the procurement of approximately $2 million worth of data through the program. By combining public sector buying power through Capture WA, significant cost savings were realised.
More than 120 secondary students from 12 schools put their creativity and entrepreneurial skills to work to develop new business ideas and tackle a range of community challenges during HackED 2016.
The event was held by SPUR at the Midland Town Hall in August. The students used data made available through WA’s open data service to develop their applications, websites and other creative projects.
Governor Stirling Senior High School won the Best Hack prize for developing a bike safety game and John Calvin Christian College was awarded the Innovation prize for an idea to build a shark experience hotel.
Professionals from a range of industries, including entrepreneurs, data analysts and academics used their creative skills and government open data to find innovative solutions to everyday problems during GovHack 2016.
The GovHack events were held simultaneously across Australia and New Zealand over three days in July. In WA, Landgate staff supported the events from FLUX, Perth’s newest co-working space; and for the first time a regional event was held at Pollinators, a MidWest start-up hub in Geraldton.
Landgate sponsored the event, mentored participants, and provided access to government data through the open data service. Landgate also sponsored the prize for the ‘Most Innovative Use of Location-based Information Prize’, which was won by team ‘WA Public Housing’. The team aimed to develop an algorithm for determining where public housing should be built, and developed a map using open data sets from a range of government agencies including Landgate.
Sharing expertise with developing nations
In 2016/17 Landgate delivered two Australian Award Fellowship programs sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. These programs aim at building relationships and sharing knowledge and technical expertise on land administration systems with developing nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
Landgate shared its innovative approach and business practices through fellowships with China and Sri Lanka. Landgate hosted eight fellows from Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Lands during a four week fellowship in October and November. The agency also hosted four fellows from China’s Provincial Government’s Department of Land and Natural Resources for four weeks in March.
Landgate hosts national and international 2016 Registrars of Title Conference
Landgate hosted some of the world’s most knowledgeable land titling professionals for the 43rd International Registrars of Titles conference, held in Perth in October.
Delegates included Registrars of Title, Valuers-General, as well as members of PSMA Australia, the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping, and the Australia New Zealand Land Information Council. All Australian jurisdictions were represented, as well as guests from Canada, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Ireland. The theme of the conference was ‘Disruption: Evolution or Revolution?’ and featured keynote speakers on emerging and future trends in a rapidly changing industry.