Indonesia’s national land certification programme is problematic. The country has a backlog of 60 million land certificates to issue, but has only managed to hit 44 percent of its total target in 35 years.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has since ordered his officials to hasten the process, and has set high target numbers for them to hit, he announced in a land titling handover ceremony last weekend. He wants to see 5 million certificates issued next year, 7 million the year after, and 9 million after that. This would mean it would take the government till 2020 to complete the target, assuming exponential growth.

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The government is turning to manual means to solve its backlog problem – employing more land surveyors and data officers to speed up the work.The programme will need more than 15,000 data talents and “will create jobs for people”, Jokowi added, according to Jakarta Globe.

The lands targeted include under-developed villages, agricultural areas and satellite cities yet to be recorded by the country’s land and spatial planning agency.

But Western governments are using a different approach – they have gone digital. The UK government’s land registry now handles 30 million transactions each year, after moving away from paper-based systems. The team explored different digital offerings, and aimed for streamlined and secure services for residents. It has also teamed up with the country’s digital service to improve citizen-facing services.

Among the services available, users can submit documents electronically, search for property prices, and information – including data on previous owners.

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Australia also undertook a digitisation programme, shifting its land records online. Each state maintains a central register recording all ownership of lands. In New South Wales, “more than 32.5 million records have been digitised including plans dated from 1792 and aerial photos going back to 1947”, the website writes.

Countries like Sweden and the UK have also turned to Blockchain to secure its land registry transactions.

Blockchain is a digital ledger that records real-time transactions across a network of computers, and provides secure means against hacking. Records that are logged cannot be changed, as any tampering will need to be verified across the network.

Sweden’s land registry will allow all parties involved in the land transaction to monitor the progress of the deal. “Digital documentation of property transfers and good technology will enable the confirmation for all parties in a real estate transaction [with] the highest level of security,” said Mats Snäll, Land Registry Development Director, Swedish Land Registry.

The benefits of going digital are huge. It’s proven too; Indonesia should look to the West.

Image taken from President Widodoˈs Facebook page