Guides to open data in land ownership now live!

Earlier this year, Open Knowledge International announced a joint-initiative with Cadasta Foundation to explore open data in property rights with the ultimate goal of defining the land ownership dataset for the Global Open Data Index. Now, we are excited to share some initial, ground-breaking resources that showcase the complexity of working at the intersection of open data advocacy and the property rights space.

Our initial resources include a comprehensive Overview of Property Rights Data and a Risk Assessment. These two guides are intended to explain what land ownership data is, where it can be found, as well as outline the process that OKI and Cadasta conducted to determine what of this data should be open. All current and forthcoming resources, as well as additional background on this project can be found on Cadasta’s Open Data page.

Land ownership information, including the Land Registry and Cadastre, are traditionally closed datasets within a pay-for-access system. In these situations, the instinct within the open data community is to default to open. While we believe more openness is vital to our aims of using data to secure property tenure, who can use this open data and for what purpose must also be taken into account. Further, property rights administration systems are highly complex and vary greatly from context to context. The implications of open data in a country where the frequent clash of government, community and private sector interests fosters mutual mistrust are very different from those in countries with established land administration system where most of the population’s property rights are formally documented. Our acknowledgement of these nuances are reflected within our research thus far and has been the foundation of our process to define open data in land rights.

These guides also exemplify the results of a partnership between the open data community and actors with sector-specific expertise. We foresee these resources and the lessons learned providing a framework for cross-sector data explorations as well as specific guidance for the international open data community involved with the Global Open Data Index.

We are actively seeking feedback to inform our research going forward and ensure that this work become core resources within the open data and land rights communities alike. Please reply with your comments and questions or by reaching out to our researcher, Lindsay Ferris, directly at We look forward to hearing from you.