Property rights data in the open data index

Last year, land ownership was included in the Open Data Index for the first time. While it is great to see recognition of the importance of this dataset, there are unique challenges with releasing property rights data – from security concerns, quality issues and the fact that sometimes cadastres are maintained at the subnational level. Now, Open Knowledge International and Cadasta Foundation have launched a joint-initiative to better define open data in land for the next publication of the Open Data Index.

We just published our first blog post addressing some of the initial issues we’ve observed barring governments from releasing data on land and would love your thoughts. We would love your feedback on the post and are interested in hearing from both open data and land advocates alike. What datasets on land should governments be responsible for releasing? Where are there particularly open cadastre systems? What about particularly closed ones? What issues have you run into with governments in trying to access this data?

Looking forward to hearing from you!


Hey Lindsay,

Great to see this conversation developing. Some assorted quick thoughts:

Have you thought of talking to the Land Portal about hosting one of their Land Debates on this topic? I suspect it could be really interesting to explore these issues with groups including local land rights activists across the world.

I recently read the fantastic Guerilla Auditors which explores the land registry systems in Paraguay, and the practices of activists to assemble documentary evidence to support their land claims - as well as processes of land digitisation. Still processes the learning from it, lots of learning in there about the overlapping nature of land claims, and the difficulty of any database accurately capturing the complexity of the history and different rights over land.

Right now, there is a consultation going on around privatisation of the land registry - with questions raised about whether this might limit the creation of new sources of open data from the registry in the future. Right now, the main datasets releases are price-paid data, but actual mapping data is only available for a charge on a plot-by-plot basis (and is incomplete - only updated in digital form when property registration changes). It would be interesting to understand the mix of public and private models for land registries around the world and whether this has an impact on data availability.