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Self-service property index launched in 'beta'



Land Registry Digital Transformation Discovery Day

Land Registry has launched a public beta version of an interactive map that allows customers to 'self serve' and instantly access its repository of 23 million property ownership titles to make property index requests.

Usually, a solicitor or conveyancer sends a request to the department to discover whether a property is registered and waits for a response.

The move is part of its wider digital transformation programme, one of Government Digital Service's (GDS) 25 central department flagship transformation projects. One year in to the strategy and Land Registry has asked for the views of local authorities to gauge ideas, expectations and feedback on the best way forward at an event hosted by the department with Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), part of the Local Digital campaign.

The transformation programme focuses on three key strands, Land Registry's Commercial and Customer Strategy Director Eddie Davies told Local Digital at the Land Registry Digital Transformation Discovery Day: to further open up its data, to digitise customer-facing services and to devise a way to "share 150 years' worth of expertise to drive efficiencies in other parts of the public sector" he said.

During one of eight 'speed briefings' on the day, Land Registry's Simon Cairns, Digital Service Delivery Lead and Duncan Chittenden, Head of Organisational Strategy told delegates that the digital programme will address "Horribly inefficient processes" and "Apps that don't fit together well", and said that as a result "our ability to respond is not quick enough".

The duo told delegates that plans revolve around the creation of more joined-up services for local authorities, among other customers, by stepping into their shoes and thinking "what might they want to do next?" While paper forms have largely been replaced with online versions - some 98% of applications to the Land Registry are made electronically - customers may still have to repeatedly provide the same information to navigate an overly-complex system.

Chittenden said this figure simply represents use of forms that have been made available online but does not representing the deeper wholesale "digital re-engineering" that needs to happen.

Part of the transformation process underway is taking place in user experience labs in conjunction with GDS in which participants test out online services, while techniques such as eyeball tracking monitor their behaviour.

Other topics discussed during the free event included digitisation of paper records for which a 'prototype' project recently took place with Watford Council; and a case study from Infoland, the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry owned company that handles property data requests.

Local Land Charges (LLC) were also under discussion on the day. A consultation with local authorities and other customers is taking place until 9 March to gather views on a new model for charging for property searches to standardise both price and turnaround time, which currently vary widely across the country.

Eddie Davies in his closing speech told the audience: "We can debate if it should be a centralised or local service - I promise there are pros and cons for both. This is a journey we are on influenced by the economy and the people who purchase online. We can't stop the journey. We've got to see how we can work together on that across central and local government".

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