Land Rights Philippines

Working towards secured property rights in the Philippines

Philippine Land Sector Meets Drone Technology

Last March, a group of geodetic engineers (GEs) from the Land Management Bureau (LMB), the regional offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), educators and students from the University of the Philippines (UP), and drone practitioners explored the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drone technology on land surveying through field tests in Bulacan and Cavite, and lectures and discussions in Metro Manila.

The activity is part of a larger initiative, in partnership with LMB, to explore new tools and technology in improving the land titling process in the Philippines.

Out of the estimated 12 million untitled parcels in the Philippines, 8 million are residential lands and the rest are agricultural. Having a land title provides secured tenure and access to formal credit, and settle community disputes, therefore contributing to national development.

However, one of the problems in getting a title is the subdivision survey. The cost of a subdivision survey can go as high as Php 15,000 per parcel and can take months to be approved. The group explores the potential of drone technology in addressing this issue. Based on the initial tests conducted by the team last April 2016, drones can survey a 20-hectare land for just about 30 minutes.

Walter Volkmann, President of Micro Aerial Projects L.L.C. – a US based company – and an expert on Urban and Rural Cadastral Surveying, served as the resource person in demonstrating Structure for Motion, a low-cost, user-friendly and advanced photogrammetric technique for obtaining high-resolution datasets at a range of scales. He introduced the VMAP system in a test flight at Bacoor, Cavite, assisted by Skyflix, Inc., to show that its output meets the Philippines’ standard surveying accuracy.

The V-Map system consists of Dual Frequency GNSS receiver, camera, antenna, memory card and wirings. It can easily be integrated into any system, from DIY drones to proprietary unmanned aerial vehicles.

Walter Volkmann sharing the “A to Z Personal Mapping Operation” with demonstration of the Do-It-Yourself Drone

The VMAP System

Furthermore, the UP Department of Geodetic Engineering (DGE) conducted an academic research to determine the applicability of using drone for land surveys. The team conducted a series of field tests on different terrains (flat, rolling, high density area) in Norzagaray, Bulacan.  The activity also became an opportunity for some drone suppliers such as Sitech Philippines, with their Trimble UX5 HP, and Rainbowgeo Scientific Corporation, using their eBee Sensefly, to show how their drones are operated. Data acquired by these drones will be analyzed by DGE to determine if they meet the accuracy standards of the surveying regulations.

Drone field test participants

The activities are geared towards the development and issuance of a policy that would allow and accept drone-supported surveys. The development of the policy is consistent with the policy of upgrading survey and mapping practices using the most appropriate modern techniques and technology.

Future efforts would include capacity building of the DENR land sector as well as continuing education of GEs in adapting to this new technology.

The activity is part of the Technology for Property Rights project of the Foundation for Economic Freedom being funded by the Omidyar Network and supported by The Asia Foundation.

Learn more about the Technology for Property Rights project HERE