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Transformations, transitions, or tall tales? A global review of the uptake and impact of NoSQL, blockchain, and big data analytics on the land administration sector

Bennett, Rohan Mark, Pickering, M., Sargent, J.
Land use policy 2019 v.83 pp. 435-448
data analysis, databases, land tenure, landscapes, politics, prototypes
Unstructured data, non-relational databases, distributed databases, and big data analytics potentially change the landscape for digital land data creation, use, management, and dissemination. The way land data is governed and the resultant impact on land tenure security delivery is open to substantial re-thinking. Drawing from international cases, this paper provides a state-of-the-art examination of prototypes and demonstrators from the global land sector. The aim is to deliver an insight into the opportunities, challenges, impacts, and future scenarios regarding the application of the emerging technologies. The paper finds that whilst uptake of non-relational and distributed databases is occurring, it remains largely at the level of proof-of-concept, demonstrator or pilot. Scaled uptake is occurring slower than anticipated, and to a lesser degree than in other sectors. However, the broader and longer-term impacts on the land sector remain difficult to judge. Meanwhile, emerging distributed analytical databases appear to be under-exploited or at least underexplored within the land sector. Overall, the examined technologies are seen to enable new operational approaches for conventional land sector transactions, and also entirely new land related services, digital products, and actors: the ways and means of holding, transferring, and securing land may become more nuanced, fractionalized, and/or automated. Whether these observed embryonic developments lead to sector transformation or orderly transition, is seen to be heavily reliant on the prevailing political, socio-cultural and institutional settings within a jurisdiction.