JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Past winner of the 2008/2009 Public Sector Customer Service Competition, the National Land Agency (NLA), is keeping abreast of new technology to improve its service delivery.
  • The NLA has recently agreed to two important Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) initiatives - the International Property Measurement Standard (IPMS) and the Valuer Registration Scheme.
  • Commissioner of Land Valuations at the NLA, Eric Allen, says that as of January 2, 2015, IPMS became mandatory in all its valuations of office buildings.

Past winner of the 2008/2009 Public Sector Customer Service Competition, the National Land Agency (NLA), is keeping abreast of new technology to improve its service delivery.

The NLA has recently agreed to two important Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) initiatives – the International Property Measurement Standard (IPMS) and the Valuer Registration Scheme.

Commissioner of Land Valuations at the NLA, Eric Allen, says that  as of January 2, 2015, IPMS became mandatory in all its valuations of office buildings.

“We want to be compliant internationally. A lot of our valuations are requested by government agencies, many of whom interface with donor agencies. So, we want to ensure that our valuations are compliant to the highest standards,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. Allen explains that the use of IPMS will ensure “that our buildings are measured properly and that we are reporting correctly on the value.”

With regard to the Valuer Registration, he says persons performing evaluations will have to be “compliant with the highest levels worldwide, so they can stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone right across the world.”

“So, the reason we have adopted these standards essentially is to promote and maintain the highest quality of evaluations that we undertake at the NLA,” he adds.

Apart from putting valuation in Jamaica on firmer footing, the NLA has endorsed many other practices to meet international standards and the needs of its customers.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NLA, Elizabeth Stair, said the NLA’s core functions came together under one roof (merger), with Land Titles; Surveys and Mapping; Land  Valuation  and Estate (Crown Land) Management.  Prior to the merger, there were four distinct departments.

Following the merger, a Land Registration System was implemented to improve and computerized the work flow and to link related functions across divisions. This was done using software known as Aumentum Registry Solutions (ARS), designed by a special team at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm. Prior to ARS, the work had to be done manually, Mrs. Stair says.

Since implemented in 2003, the ARS has enabled the agency to streamline the land registry process, speed up turnaround times and improve its service delivery to customers.

Additionally,  the CEO  notes that  a Document Scanning System (DSS) was implemented by Thomson Reuters to secure the records at the agency.

“We felt that we must be able to secure our records. It makes no sense having such an important function and not being able to find the records, and so document scanning is a very important task,” she says.

The Estate Management System (EMS) was also supported by Thomson Reuters, allowing the NLA to manage rent reviews, enable real-time collection across the island and reduce the time for property divestment from months to a few weeks.

With the introduction of the EMS, Mrs. Stair points out that turn-around times at the agency are “remarkably improved.”

She emphasises that the agency will continue to implement new innovations in order to provide a better service to customers.

“In the end, what we really want to do is to ensure that our customers have a very good experience working with us. That is really what we are hoping to provide,” Mrs. Stair says.

Registrar of Titles at the NLA, Cheriese Walcott, notes that the agency has become more efficient in storing and managing data related to land records and titles.

“Our turnaround time has been significantly reduced over the past decade. We have seen a shift from registering a simple transfer from 15 working days to a mere 48 hours,” she adds,  noting that everything is now done electronically at the agency.

Ms. Walcott informs that the agency has also developed a Document Tracking System, which allows customers to track their documents from submission to completion, instead of having to visit the office or call personnel to discuss the matter.

As a result of the system, she says the NLA is able to allocate more time and resources to go into communities across the island and educate individuals about applying for land titles and the importance of maintaining proper records.

The ARS has also facilitated the implementation of an online portal which hosts two key services – iMapjamaica, through which persons can view land parcel information, and eLandjamaica, which allows persons to access copies of various land related documents globally at their convenience.

Meanwhile, Director of Business Services Division, NLA, Lori-Ann Thompson, said the agency “has taken a lot of traffic out of our offices because of these services.”

“Our iMap is an interactive map, you can look for any parcel of land anywhere in Jamaica and get the information that you need. You can get the street number, the street address, the valuation number, and the title reference number, and if you need to see a copy of the valuation roll or title, you can actually go to eLandjamaica,” she informs.

Customer, Joseph Lincoln, describes iMapjamaica as “efficient, user friendly, and professional.”

“What I’m very impressed with, is that if there is a query, you’re able to go to the land agency and you’re able to correct that without even leaving the office,” he noted.

Another customer, Attorney-at-Law and Partner, Jennifer Messado & Company Limited, Lanza Turner-Bowen, is also happy with eLandjamaica.

“It’s an on spot facility. If you have a client who is sitting before you and you need to access the title, the records to see if a caveat is on, who lodged the caveat, you can access it immediately,” she tells JIS News.

“If a mortgage is registered, who are the mortgagees, you can access the information readily. Anything you want on the title is readily available to you,” Ms. Messado adds.

The new innovations at the NLA are not only being recognised by its customers, but over the years, the agency has received prestigious awards. It received the Manpower and maintenance services award for Best Executive Agency, and in 2004 the NLA was awarded a Special Achievement in GIS by the Environmental Systems Research Institute’s International User Conference. The most recent accomplishment was the Thomson Reuters Public Sector Champion Award.

The NLA also received the Most Creative/ Innovative Entity Award in 2010/11; and the Most Improved Entity Award in 2012/13 under the Public Sector Customer Service Competition.

This competition, a critical component of the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation Programme, is one of the strategies implemented by Government to achieve higher levels of service delivery in public sector entities. It rewards entities that demonstrate service excellence in various categories, with winners being selected through public vote and independent judging.