We expect to make around AU$51 million in savings over five years through our land registration as a service infrastructure running on AWS. 
Peter Walczak Chief Digital Officer

Landgate oversees property ownership across one million square miles in Western Australia. The business manages the allocation of land titles on behalf of the State Government of Western Australia and maintains a database of property details, valuations, maps, and property sales reports. Landgate began in 1829 as part of the original Survey General’s Office and became a statutory board in 2007. In 2014, the organization launched its business-improvement program—Transform—which focuses on enhancing processes and systems for the benefit of staff and the state’s citizens. 

The process of land registry in Western Australia had very little changes in more than 150 years. Citizens would complete paper-based forms when registering land and submit those forms to the state’s land registry office. Processes were largely manual, involving lots of physical checking of paper documents. Although administrative staff at Landgate had IT in place to support them, there was a constant backlog of forms to work through. At its busiest, Landgate had a pile of 30,000 land-registration documents to process, and state residents had to wait weeks for registration to be completed.

In response, Landgate launched the New Land Registry (NLR) project as part of a broader transformation. The organization’s goals were clear: Landgate wanted to drastically reduce its backlog and digitize forms and processing to speed things up. The business wanted to maintain the same level of efficiency even during busy periods, so customers had a consistent and positive experience regardless of the time of year. This was crucial to boost rates of customer satisfaction. Most importantly, Landgate wanted to reduce its costs and become a self-sustaining organization whose operational expenses were covered or exceeded by fees from land registry and related services.

“A cloud-based delivery system for our NLR project was a strong proposition for us,” says Peter Walczak, chief digital officer at Landgate. “Cloud services were maturing, making it easier for us to sell the idea of ‘land registry as a service’ back to the business. We felt that taking the NLR platform to the cloud would give us a highly secure and flexible infrastructure to deliver our efficiency targets.” 

Landgate engaged with Ajilon—a consultancy and systems integrator and Advanced Partner of the AWS Partner Network (APN)—to help deliver the NLR project and land registry as a service through a cloud infrastructure. Ajilon and Landgate reviewed offerings from several cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS). “We looked at a lot of documentation around the different service providers,” says Walczak. “Based on what we considered to be the services’ completeness, we chose AWS.” Crucially for Landgate, AWS also had its AWS Asia Pacific (Sydney) Region up and running. “Our data would be domiciled in Australia, and hence, there would be no push back from the organization on housing data outside of the country.”

A typical workflow could involve a member of the public presenting a land-registration document to a counter assistant at Landgate. Counter staff capture details about the document in a web-based form running on Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (Amazon EC2). A barcode, with data stored in Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), is issued, printed, and attached to the document for it to be tracked. The document is digitally scanned and stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) within hours of being lodged with the agency, whereupon it passes to data-entry staff who, double-blind, extract the document’s information from the scanned image. This system then runs the data against a business-rules engine to determine if it can be processed automatically through the platform, or if it requires manual inspection.

The team from Ajilon created a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline based on a combination of Atlassian Bamboo and the open-source Jenkins CI/CD platforms, split across separate security domains and environments. The platforms automated the on-the-fly generation of AWS CloudFormation templates, permitting developers to specify infrastructure requirements and integrations required in a dynamic microservices environment. The AWS CloudFormation templates ensured consistency was managed through environments, and network firewalls and security groups were used referentially between authorized components of the solution.

The attention to security means that even baseline images are regenerated on a regular basis, taking into account the latest security updates across the application stack. With a combination of a strong CI/CD pipeline and Auto Scaling, code fixes and security concerns can be addressed in production within minutes.

“We were adamant that we did not just meet the customer’s requirements around security, reliability, and efficiency, but we exceeded them,” says James Bromberger, principal cloud architect and national cloud director for Ajilon, who worked on the Landgate project. “We templated everything we could to make it repeatable, and leveraged modern approaches like loose coupling and fault tolerance at a component level. We also made sure that the non-production environments for development and testing were destroyed at the end of each day and automatically rebuilt the next working day. Not only did this save the customer 16 hours of Amazon EC2 cost per day—and more on weekends—but also gave confidence that any scaling-up events would be reliable in the production environment.” 

Using AWS, Landgate has increased efficiency of the land-registration process in Western Australia and is drastically reducing the costs of its land-registry operations. “We expect to make around AU$51 million in savings over five years through our land registration as a service infrastructure running on AWS,” says Walczak.

Landgate has also reduced the number of registration documents that need processing by staff. “We’ve cleared the backlog of 30,000 documents using our land registration as a service platform. Today, we can process a land-registration deed in 20 seconds with our AWS Cloud-based platform, versus a couple of weeks.” Thanks to the infrastructure’s automatic scaling, an increase in land-registration documents is unlikely to extend processing times. “Our AWS solution is highly flexible, so we can handle the extra workloads toward the end of the financial year when there is a rush to register land because of an upcoming tax increase,” says Walczak. “Seventy to 80 percent of our customers are highly satisfied with our land registry as a service solution running on AWS. That is a significant increase from the past.”

The NLR project has been a success for Landgate. The land registry as a service infrastructure won a Premier’s Award in the “Developing the Economy” category from the State of Western Australia in 2016. “We delivered above and beyond what we set out to do through the NLR project,” says Walczak.

The land registry as a service environment was completed quickly, enabling Landgate to see benefits sooner than expected. “Initial estimates were three to four years to complete the project, but with Ajilon and AWS, we finished the work in just 19 months,” says Walczak. “There has been little innovation in our industry. Manual, paper-based processes are the norm, and we see our AWS-backed land registry as a service as a great opportunity for organizations like Landgate around the globe to save significant amounts of resources.” 

Ajilon

  • An Advanced Partner of the AWS Partner Network (APN). Ajilon is a leading global technology consultancy delivering innovative solutions to meet complex, large-scale business and technology challenges.
  • For more information about how Ajilon can help your company build and manage your AWS environment, see Ajilon’s listing in the AWS Partner Directory

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