Landwrap February 2006

Landonline

Landwrap

February 2006 - Issue 19

LINZ News


In brief

After continued growth in December 2005, figures for electronic lodgements in January 2006 dipped slightly, reflecting the constraints of the Christmas / New Year holiday period.

  • A total of 398 law firms lodged an e-dealing in December (up 35 on November), and 349 lodged in January. Twenty seven law firms were first time e-dealing lodgers in December, and eight in January.
  • The e-dealing share of the total e-dealing capable lodgements sat at 22.7% in December, and 19.1% in January.
  • A total of 119 survey firms lodged an e-survey in December (four more than the previous month), and 108 lodged in January. Nine survey firms were first time e-survey lodgers in December, and two in January.
  • The e-survey share of the total survey lodgements sat at 37.0% in December (up 2.3 percentage points from November), and 37.4% in January.
  • A number of teaching institutes, including the NZLS Legal Executive courses, are incorporating e-dealing into their 2006 syllabus. More information and course materials are available on the Landonline website.

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LINZ survey audit methods to change

'Significant changes' lie ahead for LINZ's survey audit and quality assurance area.

LINZ's plans were outlined at the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors (NZIS) Conference late last year, by LINZ CEO Brendan Boyle.

Brendan said that in partnership with the surveying profession, LINZ wants to put processes and controls in place to ensure that surveyors can be confident they get it right first time.

The traditional survey audit method has been to select some surveys for audit: for example, to sample a surveyor's work.

However, current best practice in quality assurance is to look at processes, risks and controls. This leads to positive change in the surveyor's checking processes - and thus the end results. It will provide surveyors with a better 'bang for their buck', by providing them with a higher level of confidence in their work at a lower cost.

Survey audit methods: assurance vs cost/effort

Survey audit methods: assurance vs cost/effort

Pilot project will focus on control processes

The Surveyor-General and LINZ Regulatory Quality Assurance are now working with NZIS and the Consulting Surveyors of New Zealand (CSNZ) to progress the initiative, to be piloted by 12 firms.

The pilot will involve the LINZ audit team reviewing and assessing front end survey practice and procedures, backed up by field audits as deemed appropriate: the better the processes and controls, the lower the level of field audits required.

Traditionally, Brendan said, LINZ would select a prescribed number of surveys for field and desktop audit. If 5% of surveys are selected for audit, that's still only one in 20. "If the audit shows the survey is fine, what does that tell us about the other 19 surveys that surveyor lodged?" he asked.

"A better way is to look at the surveyor's quality control processes. What does the surveyor do to make sure their surveys are correct before signing them?"

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100% e-lodgement

Small number of enquiries about 100% electronic lodgement decision

Following Government's announcement that 100% electronic lodgement will be phased in by 1 July 2008, LINZ has received only a small number of enquiries from Landonline and manual lodgement customers querying aspects of the decision.

General Manager Customer Services, Sharon Cottrell, says the small number of enquiries, while all important, gives a clear indication that conveyancing professionals and surveyors understood the parameters of the decision.

"The enquiries we've received so far have related to the following topics:

  • When more information will be available about accessing core paper records, once 100% electronic lodgement is in place
  • How 100% electronic lodgement will affect accredited agents
  • What types of discharges conveyancers can do now, using e-dealing
  • When more information about the extended range of instruments for e-dealing will be available
  • More information on how LINZ will assure Landonline availability and robustness through to 100% electronic lodgement

New FAQs reflecting these and other queries will be entered onto the Landonline website's 100% e-lodgement InfoCentre as they are received.

"We're now focusing on setting up the 100% e-lodgement Programme Office which will be dedicated to managing and driving all aspects relating to 100% electronic lodgement. This is a vitally important programme of work and LINZ is committed to ensuring the Programme Office has the appropriate levels of skill and resource to deliver what is needed."

According to Sharon, many of the topics raised by customers and noted above are either being worked on now or are entering the planning stage. "Some are complex and hard to explain in just a few short sentences. Consequently, we are going to provide detailed information on a topic by topic basis and publish this in Landwrap in the coming months as more information becomes available."

In this issue: Landonline availability and robustness & DR planning options

In this issue of Landwrap, LINZ's Chief Information Officer, Tony Lester, shares his presentation to the LINZ Survey and Titles Advisory Committee that details the range of projects that are planned and underway to assure Landonline's availability and robustness. We also outline the recommended option for Landonline Disaster Recovery and Availability.

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Making the move to e-lodgement: setup costs

If you are considering moving to electronic lodgement of land title transactions and survey plans via Landonline, here's some information about typical setup costs.

Hardware and software

Landonline has been designed so that users can work with readily available PC software and hardware. This means that you may already have a suitable existing computer. However, if you need to buy a new computer, you can get a 'standard spec' machine, which is readily available.

The total indicative set-up costs for buying a suitable new PC are shown below, with links to a cost breakdown:

For more information about technical requirements and issues, see:

Breakdown of indicative set-up costs for a single e-dealing user

Windows XP Professional computer* $1,400.00 (basic model retail)
Inkjet printer/scanner/copier* $300.00 (basic model retail)
e-dealing license $600.00
Annual Registration $105.00 per licence (from 2nd year)
Digital Certificate $174.00 ($87 per user x 2)
Annual Certificate Renewal $92.00 ($46 per certificate x 2) (from 2nd year)
Internet connection via dial-up modem* $335.00 ($28.00 per month for one year)
Total cost $3,006.00

(* a user may already have these items which could be used for e-dealing)

Note: If your firm already holds an e-search licence, it will cost $100 to upgrade to an e-dealing licence.

Breakdown of indicative e set-up costs for a single e-survey user

Windows XP Professional* $2,750.00 (high performance model retail)
Laser printer/fax/scanner/copier* $500.00 (basic model retail)
e-survey license $1,200.00
Annual Registration $380.00 per licence
Digital Certificate $87.00 ($87 per user)
Annual Certificate Renewal $46.00 ($46 per certificate)
Internet connection via Xtra Broadband or Broadband modem* $720.00 ($60.00 per month for one year)
Total cost $5,683.00

(* a user may already have these items which could be used for e-survey)

Note: If your firm already holds an e-search licence, it will cost $700 to upgrade to an e-survey licence. If your firm holds an e-search plus licence, it will cost $200 to upgrade to an e-survey licence.

Training

LINZ provides free training and a helpdesk to support users. New users will need to allocate time to attend free LINZ training courses or undertake online training. Email info@linz.govt.nz if your firm wishes to request training.

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Did you get our message?

After the Government's 100% e-lodgement announcement was made public, LINZ sent 2,316 letters to land professionals in New Zealand, including Landonline and manual lodgement customers.

To ensure that everyone got the information as soon after the announcement as possible, we also sent 2,166 emails with a PDF of the letter. Where we didn't have an email address, we faxed the information.

If you didn't receive an email or fax on February 8, and a confirming letter a day or two later, about the government's announcement of 100% electronic lodgement – please email info@linz.govt.nz with your firm's name, primary contact name, email, phone, fax, and postal address details.

We will then send you a copy of that information material, and hold your details so we can keep you informed about 100% e-lodgement in the coming months.

To help ensure we send you relevant information, please also let us know which LINZ service/s you use.

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Landonline

Projects focus on assuring Landonline reliability and availability going forward

LINZ's Chief Information Officer, Tony Lester, recently briefed the Survey and Titles Advisory Committee on a number of projects either underway or about to commence that focus on ensuring Landonline's robustness, reliability and availability in the coming years.

Landonline's existing availability goal of 99.5% was confirmed and actual availability statistics over the past 9 months were presented:

In the 9 months to September 2005, Landonline availability was 99.62%.

For the last three months of the year, availability results were:
  • October - 89.71%
  • November - 98.41%
  • December – 99.19%

Tony stated that although Landonline's performance in the last quarter of 2005 was not acceptable, the system is still robust as evidenced by the availability results above.

LINZ well understands that non-availability and poor performance impact on customers, resulting in an inability to work when required, slow performance causing frustration and work interruptions. These, in turn, result in customers needing to contact the Customer Support team for assistance.

LINZ's projects

The projects outlined below aim to support the performance goal of 99.5%. Several were already planned as part of LINZ's ongoing Landonline software and hardware management planning.

  • When Landonline became unavailable due to disk failure on 30 November last year, LINZ's Disaster Recovery (DR) planning was immediately put into action. Tony reported that our current DR process worked very well and that the Landonline DR environment is strong, well-tested and proven. However, the DR event also highlighted areas of improvement for us to focus on. A critical point identified is that the current DR recovery timeframe of 72 hours does not meet our future requirements to be more responsive.

    The 'Landonline Disaster Recovery Options' project is exploring options to add greater robustness to the Landonline database and image store availability, and to ensure DR recovery timeframes can be reduced in future.

    Tony shared a discussion paper on those options with the Survey and Titles Advisory Committee, including the recommended option which would see a new, primary DR site in Auckland, supplementing the existing DR site in Wellington – see 'Landonline Disaster Recovery Options – optimum DR and availability planning' for more details.
  • Another project which LINZ has been working on for some time is the replacement of the image store hardware in Landonline to ensure future robustness. The image store is where copies of titles and survey plans are held on file and accessed when a title or plan is amended by a user, before being re-filed. The current image store hardware was leading edge when Landonline was first designed back in the late 1990's but has now been superseded by more efficient and effective technologies.

    The replacement solution – Centerra – will be installed later in 2006 involving moving 11 million-plus images across to the new image store hardware, well in advance of the first of the 100% electronic lodgement deadlines.
  • The 'End-to-End Service Review' project is reviewing the Landonline infrastructure to identify any single points of failure that prevent access to the system by users or system administrators. As well as highlighting immediate opportunities available to improve availability and reliability, it will also help identify further work required and feed into the 'Landonline Current State Assessment' project below.
  • Researching the scope of operating systems and web browsers customers are using now and are likely to use in future is the focus of the 'Landonline Support of Customer Environments' project. This will enable LINZ to identify systems being used by Landonline customers that LINZ can support.
  • The 'Landonline Current State Assessment' is a forward-looking project examining the options for re-engineering Landonline's architecture. Regular architecture reviews ensure new technologies are utilised and incorporated to maintain system robustness and currency. The project will continue through 2006 and will help inform many of the other projects as well as providing the all-important blueprint for Landonline well into the future.
  • Ensuring LINZ has the right people with the right skills to provide the necessary system and technological support is another key planning function we undertake regularly. The 'LINZ Technical Resource Capability' project will confirm that LINZ has the necessary resources to ensure appropriately skilled technical support going forward.

Managing hardware, software and data for robustness

During his presentation, Tony stressed that it is important to understand the differences between managing hardware, software and data and how ensuring robustness varies across all three, especially in relation to Disaster Recovery (DR) planning. A 'disaster' includes events such as something that would remove a whole site in either Auckland or Wellington.

The various hardware components used for Landonline must be upgraded on an ongoing basis, and this is an ongoing, critical focus for LINZ. Similarly, software can and should be enhanced and replaced to improve usability and system functionality. LINZ manages this process via the range of software releases both within the system and for customers.

Holding and protecting the data in Landonline is obviously of paramount importance. The 'Landonline Disaster Recovery Options' project aims to increase the level of data protection exponentially to mitigate the risk of hardware and software issues or failure.

Managing and mitigating the risk of other forms of data corruption is an issue all organisations holding data have to contend with all the time.

Mitigating the risk of data corruption becomes even more critical when that data is New Zealand's land titles register and cadastre. Tony delivered a pragmatic summation of the facts relating to data corruption risk for Landonline to the Committee. He explained that data can corrupt from any number of different sources for any number of reasons – some random (e.g. for sometimes unknown and frequently unexplained reasons) and some are deliberate acts (e.g. inadvertently or specifically introduced viruses or bugs).

Tony also stressed the fact that modern database engines, such as those used by banks, go to extreme lengths to ensure the integrity of the data stored and Landonline is no exception. It is very likely any database induced corruption would be picked up within a relatively short period of time (in the order of minutes). However, other forms of random and deliberate data corruption, while not preventable, are obviously key aspects of DR planning.

The recommended option outlined in the 'Landonline Disaster Recovery Options' project is a primary and secondary DR site as this provides the highest level of data protection.

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'Landonline Disaster Recovery Options' - optimum DR and availability planning

Customer and stakeholder feedback is helping LINZ plan new Disaster Recovery (DR) arrangements for Landonline to safeguard the hardware, software and data.

The background to the planning includes learnings from and after the 30 November disk failure. That event was the first 'live' test of LINZ's DR arrangements which were developed primarily with a 'one in 20 years' catastrophic event in mind.

LINZ and key stakeholder groups have agreed that while our DR processes worked well, the DR recovery timeframe does not match availability requirements, especially given the advent of 100% electronic lodgement. DR planning also needs to encompass serious outages that are less than a 'catastrophic event' yet hinder access and availability of Landonline, along with arrangements to bring the system back up as quickly as possible.

LINZ has looked at a range of options, focusing on three in detail. This article outlines the recommended option which would see a Primary and Secondary DR Site for Landonline.

Landonline's current DR plan

The current Landonline DR plan was developed to address a catastrophic event at the Mt Wellington datacentre in Auckland (Landonline production site) knocking the system out for an extended period. If this type of event were to occur, the whole system would be transitioned to a DR site which is sited in Wellington.

The current arrangement is to have the system available within 72 hours. While we are likely to have a system available within the required 72 hours, this still falls short of customer expectations for access. In a 100% electronic lodgement environment, Landonline customers will rightly expect any problems to be resolved more quickly, enabling them to keep working.

Key to resolving such problems are two types of recovery:

  • Recovery from a site failure such that the DR site can be up and running without loss of data – largely associated with hardware and software
  • Recovery from a database corruption where that corruption has already resulted in corrupt data being replicated to the secondary site.

The modern DR solution – data replication

The standard DR approach today is based on data replication solutions. This more advanced approach was not available when Landonline was designed in the late 1990's and is typically demanded by banks and financial institutions.

Essentially, data replication involves connectivity between the production site and a DR site. The secondary DR site is a mirror site and the connectivity between the two sites ensures data is continually updated. All Landonline data (database, images, and authentication details) could potentially be included in this type of replication solution.

It is important to balance the risks of possible data corruption being copied into the second site, with the need for minimal loss of data.

Metrics

The key metrics used to evaluate a Data Protection Strategy (besides cost), are the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

  • The RPO indicates how much data might be lost (therefore requiring re-entry)
  • The RTO states how long one can afford to be non-functioning due to the failure.

Unfortunately the cost of lowering the RPO/RTO increases exponentially towards zero. For example, an RPO of five minutes is achievable using available techniques. However, improving the RPO much below five minutes requires a different (and much more costly) approach.

Landonline DR solutions

Of six solutions to reduce RPO/RTO times for Landonline, we have identified three preferred approaches:

  • Near real-time disk based replication. This provides a copy of specified data repositories from the production environment to a DR site over an Internet network connection. The data refreshment cycle is tuneable - typically around five minutes. This option provides a very economical solution, significantly better than is in place today
  • Real-time replication to a second Storage Area Network (SAN) located in the production environment. A good all-round solution that provides a high level of protection for the most likely DR scenarios/failures
  • Primary and secondary DR site (LINZ preferred option). A very robust solution that utilises a DR model that approaches that of banks and financial institutions.

The preferred Landonline DR approach: Primary and Secondary DR sites

This option provides for two DR sites (known as the primary DR site and the secondary DR site respectively).

The reason for the second DR site is that it is not possible (without serious performance implications) to achieve a RPO of zero with sites that are connected via a standard WAN (wide area network) connection. As a result we have to "fibre connect" the production and primary DR sites.

Owing to technical limitations with fibre connections, these sites must be within 40km of each other, (ruling out use of the current DR site in Wellington). The most likely candidate is a second EDS datacentre in Auckland, approximately 15km from the current datacentre.

This option would allow us to maintain two identical copies of the Landonline Informix database. As data is written to the production database it is simultaneously written to the mirror at the primary DR site. Then, as data is written to the primary DR site, it is then replicated (near real-time) to the secondary DR site.

This configuration protects the Landonline database from problems at the production site (without data loss), and provides protection from an Auckland wide event via the replicated data at the secondary DR site (~5 minutes data loss).

Under this option, replication of the image and authentication data (held in Centerra and the Active Directory) is still performed on a near real-time basis. There is currently no practical way to perform synchronised writes for this data.

Given the low frequency of changes to authentication details, however, this is not problematic for authentication data.

In respect of images, system generated images can be re-imported without user intervention. Images that might have been submitted by external users (e.g. supporting documents) may require the user to resubmit these – however the window for loss would be reduced to five minutes, rather than 12-24 hours.

Under this option, the primary DR site would contain sufficient servers to accommodate the full production workload. The secondary DR site would have a reduced set of servers. The rationale behind this approach is that the probability of an Auckland wide event of sufficient magnitude to take out both sites simultaneously is exceedingly low. In the event of a production fault, it is far more likely that service would be delivered out of the primary DR site.

Next steps

After further consultation with stakeholders, LINZ anticipates confirming the preferred approach and commencing design by the end of April 2006. We will keep you posted on progress in future articles of Landwrap.

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Hours to be extended for Landonline users

Landonline hours of access are set to change in April, making Landonline available to all users for extended hours during weekdays and on Saturdays.

The new extended hours for Landonline will be:

Monday to Thursday: 7am – 9pm
Friday: 7am – 7pm
Saturday: 9am to 5pm

The new hours will extend availability for e-search and e-survey lodgements to Saturdays, plus an additional two hours each evening Monday to Thursday.

e-dealing users will have an additional two hours each day Monday to Thursday, plus 8 hours on Saturdays to create dealings and prepare instruments before saving them in Workspace. Note that current legislation only allows lodging of dealings to be undertaken between 9am and 4pm on LINZ business days.

The extended hours were worked out in consultation with the Survey and Titles Advisory Committee. See March Landwrap for the date the extended hours of access will commence.

0800 Customer Support hours also extended

Our Customer Support team will be available to offer both technical and Landonline user support during the extended hours of Landonline availability - call 0800 665 463.

This means any users having technical issues, such as a needing a password reset or a helping hand with conducting a search or using e-dealing can call for assistance.

Any complex technical or processing enquiry that can't be answered immediately will be logged for answering the next business day.

More Customer Support information including touch tone keys for enquiry types is on the Landonline website, Support page.

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Remember to keep your firm and user details up to date in Landonline

Landonline users can easily check and update their contact details in Landonline, by clicking on the 'My details' icon.

If roles have changed in your firm, you (or your firm's Trusted Contact or System Administrator) can add, change or remove individuals using the Change your details forms on the Landonline site.

Please note that LINZ cannot change any user details: only licensed firms and authorised users can do this.

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e-dealing


New e-dealing practise tools

Three new e-dealing practise tools are available on Landonline for e-dealing users. The tools provide most of the information LINZ trainers cover during e-dealing training. The tools are good to use as a refresher and invaluable for new staff to practise e-dealing while they're learning.

With the addition of the new tools, users can now practise all the e-dealing steps, from 'create' right through to 'submit'.

The new tools are:

  • Create e-dealing.
  • Certify and Sign Release Instruments.
  • Submit e-dealing.

To try the practise tools, simply go the Online e-dealing Practise page and click the 'Start the practise / Walkthrough now' button.

A welcome page (shown below) will load in a new window, in which you can select the tool you're interested in. You can start at the beginning with 'Create e-dealing', or jump straight to any of the other tools shown.

e-dealing practise tools welcome page

When you've selected a practise tool, you can then choose to 'Walkthrough' or 'Practise'.

e-dealing Training Coordinator Julie Gillatt says the 'Walk through' provides an overview of how the e-dealing process works. 'Practise' encourages you to practise what you have learnt by following interactive steps.

Technical requirements

To use the tutorial, you need the (free) Macromedia Flash plugin installed on your computer. If your computer doesn't have it, you will be prompted to install it: we suggest you click 'yes', and your web browser will be directed to the site to download the plug-in.

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Discharge instruments available now using e-dealing

A question asked by many conveyancing professionals is 'What sorts of Discharges can I do in Landonline using e-dealing right now?'

You can prepare the following Discharges in Landonline using e-dealing:
  • One or more full Discharges as to one or more whole titles, and/or
  • One or more partial Discharges as to one or more whole titles.

Note: Where there is more than one encumbrancee, all encumbrancees must discharge their interest.

Discharge instruments are:

  • Discharge of Mortgage
  • Withdrawal of Caveat
  • Discharge of Family Benefit Charge
  • Withdrawal of Notice of Claim
  • Discharge of Charging Order
  • Discharge of Compensation Certificate
  • Discharge of Encumbrance
  • Discharge of Statutory Land Change

Partial discharge instruments are:

  • Partial Discharge of Mortgage
  • Partial Withdrawal of Caveat
  • Partial Discharge of Family Benefit Charge
  • Partial Withdrawal of Notice of Claim
  • Partial Discharge of Charging Order
  • Partial Discharge of Compensation Certificate
  • Partial Discharge of Encumbrance
  • Partial Discharge of Statutory Land Change

Landonline e-dealing Quick Reference Cards and the e-dealing User Guide contain detailed information about preparing discharges in Landonline.

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Practising certificate renewal reminder

For e-dealing solicitors, it's time to send us a certified copy of your practising certificate renewal:

What you need to do:

  1. Photocopy your Practising Certificate or Land Brokers Licence onto the space provided on our Practising Certificate Form - (pdf 185KB).

    (The photocopy should clearly show your name, the date of issue and the issuing District Law Society.)
  2. Take the original and the photocopy/form to a person authorised to certify it as a true and correct copy.
  3. Mail the completed form by the end of April to:

    Land Information New Zealand Registration Authority
    Private Box 5501
    Wellington

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e-survey

Strong interest in new LandXML training tool

Surveyors are invited to sign up for a copy of LINZ's new LandXML computer-based training (CBT) tool.

When presented by LINZ Business Analyst Miriam Tinkler and e-survey trainer Ralph Winmill at the 2005 NZIS Conference, interest in the CBT was strong with many surveyors signing up to receive a copy.

A transfer medium, LandXML saves surveyors time when using Landonline e-survey, by removing or reducing the need to manually re-enter data. With LandXML, surveyors can electronically import and export data between their survey package and Landonline.

Many of the survey software packages used by New Zealand surveyors are already LandXML enabled. While some packages will populate more fields within Landonline than others, firms continue to increase transfer automation by improving their interface and field mapping.

e-survey's Product & Service owner, Jan Lawrence, says that the percentage of e-surveys produced using the LandXML process continues to grow, as surveyors seek to save time and automate as much as they can.

Despite the obvious advantages of automating data transfer, new e-survey users are first shown how to manually enter data into Landonline. Besides equipping users to enter or edit data themselves, it also helps users to understand the connection between their survey data and the Landonline fields. Once this is understood, it's easier to use the LandXML file to enter the data.

Request a copy of the LandXML CBT tool

To request a copy of the LandXML CBT tool, please email us at esurvey@linz.govt.nz with your postal details and put LandXML in the subject line. If you signed up for a copy at the NZIS Conference, expect to receive your copy at the end of February.

More about LandXML

LandXML is an international industry standard to assist data exchange in land planning, civil engineering and land survey. Prior to 2002, LINZ representatives worked with the international industry consortium to include extra classes in the LandXML schema to assist the cadastral area.

XML is short for eXtensible Markup Language, which is a simple, standard mark-up language that can be used to store and transfer information.

LandXML derives many advantages from its parent XML:

  • Open, standard, non-proprietary format.
  • Machine readable, but also human readable (plain text files).
  • Style-free - so data can be displayed in different formats using style sheets.
  • Flexibility - subsets of the data are readily accessible.

Landonline has been designed to allow surveyors to take advantage of LandXML especially for automated data export and pre-validation:

  • Data import - Landonline allows fields to be populated without needing to open the screen.
  • Data processing – Landonline carries out a number of processes such as mark and parcel linking, parcel topology checks, and spatial drawing of the data.
  • Pre-validation – rules can be run to identify mandatory fields that were not populated.

Find out more about LandXML.

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Great experience in e-survey specialist support team

e-survey customers who phone Customer Support any time Monday to Friday between 7am and 5pm, get the benefit of exceptionally qualified specialist e-survey support.

Each member of our e-survey support team has between 10 and 25 years work experience in the survey area, enabling the team to provide specialist support for e-survey users that is well in advance of the expected technical and user support.

Please note: Our e-survey specialist support team is available Monday to Friday between 7am and 5pm. Outside those hours, any complex enquiry that can't be answered immediately will be logged for answering the next business day.

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Landwrap


Landwrap is the authoritative news and information source for survey and title customers.

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