Anguilla – Working with the Department of Lands and Surveys

By Frank Pichel, Leslie Hodge

Leslie Jasen Hodge took over as the Director of the Anguilla Department of Lands and Surveys (DLS) Department in 2014 with a grand vision to modernize and digitize land administration island-wide. 

As is often the case in governments around the world, a limited budget meant that many of his envisioned reforms were not immediately possible. However significant damage to the DLS building by Hurricane Irma in 2017 brought to the forefront the significant risk the maintaining paper-based land records. The Government of Anguilla, with support from the British Government, granted permission for the DLS team to immediately embark on an effort to scan and digitize all existing land records. This became the foundation for the new land administration system, which leveraged Spatial Dimensions’ (formerly Trimble) Landfolio software platform, to bring a secure, accurate and transparent digital land registration system to the island nation of Anguilla.

With this first critical stage completed, the team turned their attention to the next problem – a lack of up-to-date island-wide imagery. This is key to visualizing the land records in relation to current land use/land cover information (i.e. such as infrastructure development, natural resources, etc.). The lack of up to date imagery had previously limited the ability to assess how a survey record aligns with the reality on the ground.  With satellite imagery lacking the resolution and detail needed, and traditional aerial photography from a crewed aircraft being too expensive, Director Hodge reached out to PLACE in early 2023 as both an economical and rapid solution to his problem.

Director Hodge in his pitch to the Legislature and fellow stakeholders cited that “very often we find that we as policymakers, planners and decision makers need to understand what, where and when things are happening to keep up with the lightning pace of change to make the best informed decision for the nation of Anguilla.” 

Mr. Hodge has expressed that land management, disaster and emergency management, natural-resource management, agriculture and disease control are all fields that require precise, up-to-date spatial information. The ability to develop and implement interagency solutions is ever so crucial. One way to achieve this is through updated imagery and the inclusion of streetview imagery has taken it to another level in Anguilla. The Government of Anguilla and PLACE signed an agreement in August of 2023, and the PLACE team were in country and collecting PLACE Ground and PLACE Aerial data within weeks. Over the course of October and November, approximately eighty-five square kilometres were captured with a resolution of 5 cm per pixel. In addition, the offshore cays of Sandy Island (0.4 kms2, 2.5 cm resolution) and Scrub Island (12.5 kms2, 10 cm resolution) were captured.

Production included a series of flights from the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport, requiring close coordination with Air Traffic Control, and prior approvals from the Air Safety Support International (ASSI), a subsidiary of United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority responsible for civil aviation in the UK Overseas Territories.

DLS staff created and mapped sixty-six (66) Ground Control Points (GCPs) across the island prior to the imagery capture, ensuring the data can be processed into a single ortho-photo with an approximate positional accuracy of 1 – 1.5 times the ground sampling distance (GSD) that ranges from 2.5 cm to 10 cm/per pixel and meeting the needs of DLS, as well as other government agencies expecting to use the data.

In addition to the aerial imagery, over 325 linear kilometres of PLACE Ground was captured, resulting in streetview for all primary, secondary and the vast majority of tertiary roads.

As soon as the data was available the DLS teams working with PLACE immediately started work on creating data products. These included flood models, a digital surface model, 3D Visualizations of the Central Business District and the use of machine learning models to extract building footprints, classify land use and identify vegetation. These data sets are already being used as the government embarks on new infrastructure developments such as the expansion of the Clayton J Lloyd International Airport and Altamer Marina development for which the information is crucial. The new imagery and streetview will be the main gateway to discover, access, and communicate spatial data and information about natural and built environment in Anguilla.

For Director Hodge, imagery from PLACE, combined with the Landfolio system and Esri software, has helped to ensure the DLS is where he always envisioned it would be – “leading in the Caribbean – having the digital imagery, registers, and the land information system.  Everything comes together as one with up to date data and imagery.

For Anguilla, imagery has proved to be the missing piece.

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View our STAC Catalogue to see what data is available for Anguilla through the PLACE Trust. 

Find more detail in our Anguilla Field Report.

Hear Director Hodge’s recent interview on Anguilla Radio