Registers of Scotland: What, exactly, is your land?

For many years OS mapping has helped to define your land in law. What constitutes your land in law goes beyond your property and land ownership. It is more than just the actual earth beneath our feet within what we know to be the physical boundaries and buildings. Nowadays the registration of title to land is particularly important as it is often the most valuable asset of any individual or business.

In Scotland, the transfer of land from one owner to another has been recorded for centuries. Read this guest blog from Registers of Scotland who have been transforming this process.

Before we dive right in and tell you about the exciting digital transformation projects happening at Registers of Scotland (RoS) we should probably start with what we do here at RoS…We are the non-ministerial government department that looks after registers relating to land, property and other legal matters.

The maintenance of our property registers underpins the Scottish property market and economy. For hundreds of years we have been a largely paper-based organisation – until now! In fact we are in the midst of a radical business transformation; with the aim of offering fully digital registration and information services by 2020, which will not only improve efficiency and our carbon footprint but enable us to offer even higher levels of security and transparency concerning Scottish land and property transactions. A lynchpin in this digital transformation programme is ScotLIS, the brand new map-based land information service we launched in October.

October 2017 was a pretty big month for us as we hosted the Registrars of Title Conference as part of a series of events to mark the 400th anniversary of the Sasine Register. Dating back to 1617, the register is not only the oldest one we hold but is the oldest, national public land register in the world. As it was the first time Scotland had played host to the conference and with land registration experts from across the globe, it was here that we chose to launch ScotLIS. Showcasing our new digital service as a key component of our business transformation, ScotLIS.ros.gov.uk allows citizens, communities, professionals and businesses to access comprehensive information about any piece of land or property in Scotland for the first time.

In little over a month since the launch ScotLIS has attracted over 8,700 citizen users and almost 2,500 business users and we are delighted with the feedback so far, which has been really positive. The service was designed iteratively using agile development methodologies and improvements have been made based on extensive user feedback and stringent testing. Post-launch we continue to gather feedback and while our customers are impressed with what we have achieved so far we aren’t resting on our laurels – short cycle development sprints continue that process of improvement.

On that note, while we still have your attention, if you would like to be involved in ongoing usability testing read on to the end where we have included an email address – we would love to hear from you!

ScotLIS for the citizen is still in its infancy and is being fully developed along with the first wave of additional features planned for business users. Based on customer feedback analysis the team behind the ‘citizen’ side of ScotLIS are exploring ways in which to make the maps more dynamic and interactive.

While ScotLIS currently shares our data in a user friendly way the plan is eventually it will combine with other public sector and government data sets to offer both a useful and unique view of Scotland. The ambition is for ScotLIS to become the platform of choice for land and property information in Scotland. Launching ScotLIS on time and to budget was an enormous undertaking and while we are proud of the achievements to date we are now focussed on making further developments in the coming year and endeavouring to be as innovative as possible in the way that we deliver our services.

If you would like to know more about the services we are developing at RoS we like to talk about them on insideros.blog where you are more than welcome to join us!

We are now live so have a look around Scotlis.ros.gov.uk and if you would like to be involved in the ongoing process of improvement please email ruth.baxter@ros.gov.uk for more details.

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