The Dutch Kadaster (Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency) has switched to using Postgresql for four of its major business solutions. “Open source allows us to deliver services at lower costs”, says Paul Schluck, one of the database administrators at the land registry.
The Postgresql RDBMS is used for the national portal for spatial planning, providing country-wide zoning information and construction plans. The RDBMS drives repository of geodatasets, that can be accessed by digital geographic information systems. The open source solution also manages the country-wide registers of real estate information and Energy Performance Coefficient.
“Postgresql came to us by chance in 2008”, said Schluck. The RDBMS came as part of the real estate registry, which had been built by the Dutch ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment. It also brought along Linux and Hibernate, making it easier to create Java-based database-solutions. None of the IT staffers at the agency had ever worked with these solutions before, Schluck admitted, yet the team managed to take over the registry in one month.
The open source relational database management system is now part of the default software development cycle, which also includes other open source tools, including the Linux operating system, the Apache web server and Docker for managing virtual machines. Moving to open source has made the land registry’s approach for software development and deployment much more flexible, Schluck says. “It is easier to request servers. We now use more than 1200 of them.”
Schluck recommends that organisations considering switch to open source use their good sense, start with small-scale projects and look for ICT service providers that can assist them. “Do not begin by using unknown open source solutions, and make sure the organisation employs is more than a single IT staffer understanding the technology.”
Schluck talked about the agency’s use of open source on Monday at a meeting in The Hague organised by open source firms EnterpriseDB and RedHat. The land registry is a non-departmental public body, operating under the political responsibility of the Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.