The Impact of Blockchain Technology on the Surveying Industry, Cadastre and Land Registry Systems

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Surveying and its techniques and science have been employed in construction and land development since ancient times. 

Babylonians used surveying methods to build the pyramids. The Romans used them to mark the boundaries of their empire. Today, surveying has taken on specific functions. The main types are land, mining, engineering and hydrographic. Other spatial science fields include geodesy, topographic surveying, remote sensing, geospatial and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).      

This paper focuses on land surveyors who determine the legal property lines and help determine the exact locations of land, built property and construction projects.

Surveyors are licensed professionals with academic and technical credentials. Surveying activities or tasks, like many other aspects of real estate, can benefit with blockchain adoption. 

Surveying activities include but are not limited to:

  • Measuring and establishing officialpublic or private land, air and water boundaries (national or cross border) with the subsequent registration of results with the appropriate authorities or governmental bodies;
  • Searches for historical evidence of previous boundaries;
  • Researching land records and other sources of information affecting a property’s physical and legal status;
  • Acquiring, analyzing and integrating spatial objects and phenomena in GIS (Geographic Information System), including the visualization and communication of such data in maps, models and mobile digital devices;
  • Verifying data accuracy and recording the results of surveys;
  • Collaborating with other real estate professionals;
  • Preparing plots, maps and reports;
  • Writing descriptions of land for deeds, leases, easements, and other legal documents;
  • Providing expert testimony in court regarding their work or that of other surveyors;
  • Presenting their findings to clients, government agencies and other interested or vested players.


The traditional image of a surveyor’s activities seems far removed from crypto, coding, hash algorithms and network nodes. But there are enormous benefits for surveying professionals to utilize blockchain technology.

Surveying work is becoming increasingly global and cross-border with surveyors and others often working in a fragmented way. Blockchain’s primary benefit then, is connecting technology and its data with the people who work in the surveying industry — where trust and accountability is essential

Blockchain will…

1) connect different parties associated with a project allowing for increased collaboration and trust,

2) provide a shared, tamper-proof digital ledger or journal of transactional information, 

3) allow smart contracts to pay subcontractors (or others) automatically as soon as work has been completed and checked, reducing the payment delays,

4) facilitate and streamline workflow processes, 

5) provide efficiencies in the way different pieces of information or data [2] (the “blocks”) are stored, collated, and referenced and shared,

6) allow all participants involved in the transaction to monitor project progress – every step of the way

Network Participants – Connecting and Sharing on the Blockchain 


Blockchain will not…

1) affect surveying standards or methodologies,

2) replace surveyors or their work,

3) fix mistakes or errors made during the course of project work,

4) improve your golf game.

Data Storage on the Chain

  • * Final field notes and data can be uploaded to the chain in a sequential format for authentication, safekeeping and reference;
  • Legally accepted descriptions and definitions of property can be recorded on the chain and accessible to others via permissioned access;
  • Older recorded documents can be digitized and uploaded;
  • Previous surveys can be posted with subsequent access to others;
  • Current satellite images and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) data (including parcel, building and utility information) can be stored without danger of tampering;
  • Building Information Model (BIM) digital files can be safely stored, exchanged or networked to support decision-making enabling a virtual information model.

* “All field notes, field data, soil boring logs, reports, deeds and title reports, calculations, working drawings, estimates and other documents acquired or prepared by Surveyor as instruments of service shall remain the property of Surveyor. Attorneys have advised us that these “instruments of service” rightfully belong to us and are ours to use in appropriate circumstances, such as future    recognized in a litigated dispute, but the prudent step is for the surveyor to make it a matter of agreement in her signed contract with her client.”       (Robert W. Foster, PE, PLS, “On the level: Who owns the surveyor’s information? “April 1, 2009)

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