In order to comply with the Welsh Government’s digital-first approach and further enable the implementation of the Commons Act 2006, the current paper-based registers and associated maps will be transformed to an electronic register of common land for Wales. OSGeo open source tools will be put forward which enable online browsing of the registers by Commoners and enhance efficiency for the Common Registration Officers.
There are a multitude of issues with the current form of registers that need to be solved. In fact, the registers’ physical state is declining and limits readability and citizens have to personally visit the Local Authority to obtain access to paper records and maps, which is time-consuming for both citizens and the Common Registration Officers. In addition, the registers are inconsistent in between them, due to the fact that information must be entered manually in each system.
The Welsh system is currently based on the Commons Registration Act, that dates back to 1965. The new Commons Act was published in 2006, which allows for registers to be kept in digital form. In 2018, the Welsh Government launched an open call for opportunity for the development of digital registers for common land and town or village greens in Wales. The current registers’ and maps’ data, which are predominantly paper-based, need to migrate to digital registers. The scheduled launch for the digital registers is planned for 2022.
The call was awarded to SCISYS UK, a computer software and services company. To gather both spatial and textual register data the SCISYS bespoke software solution will deploy Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) compliant OSGeo open-source tools within a Microsoft.NET framework. These open source tools will allow those interested to search and browse registers online. In the back-office, the standard data management system will foster the Officers’ efficiency. Finally, the sustainability issue of paper-based registers and maps will be solved by the new electronic register.
The transformation of the register of common land for Wales to electronic format aligns with the Digital Wales goals and digital-first approach of the Welsh Government.