As home of the world’s oldest national land register – the General Register of Sasine – Scotland can be proud of the pioneering work that was done here to protect the citizen and secure their rights over their land more than 400 years ago.
Back in the day, land transactions took a literal form; it would be marked symbolically by handing over a clump of ground or a stone – backed up, or course, by legal protections. Our methods of transacting have altered radically, but the protections for the citizens lie at the core of our work.
While we are proud of that rich history at Registers of Scotland (RoS), we are ensuring that we honour it in the best way possible – by continuing to evolve and innovate, striving for the best possible land and property registration services for the people of Scotland and the wider Scottish economy.
RoS is in the midst of an ongoing digital transformation, with the intention of progressing from being a historically paper (or soil!) based organisation, to one that does everything digitally as its preferred option.
Key outcomes will be the automation of services to boost efficiency and quality, while at the same time reducing risk. Crucially, we are designing all of this with the customer at the heart of service and product design.
Digital innovation is embedded in the work that we are doing at Registers of Scotland, and we are proud to be playing our part in the delivery of the Scottish Government’s digital strategy, which sets out steps for ensuring that Scotland is a vibrant, inclusive, open and outward looking digital nation.
At the heart of that is the principle that the digital approach must be fit for purpose and deliver excellent public services that are what customers want and need.
Our land and property information service – ScotLIS – and our Digital Discharge Service, which is primarily used for removing repaid mortgages from title sheets, were both developed with stakeholders involved at every stage. The result is two first-rate digital services that have been positively received.
ScotLIS, Scotland’s Land Information Service, our online land and information system allows citizens, communities, professionals and business users to find out comprehensive information about any piece of land or property in Scotland with a single online enquiry. Additional layers and functions are being added to ScotLIS every week, based on consultation and testing with the customers to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
Then there’s our digital discharge service, DDS, that enables the discharge of mortgage securities. Thanks to DDS, we’ve transitioned from a paper process that could take weeks to travel between the lender the solicitor and ourselves before the application was processed, to a fully digital replacement in which the customer journey for both solicitors and lenders can be completed in minutes.
The digital services that we’re developing ensure that no area of Scotland finds it harder to access services than any other area. Using digital means that whether businesses are in rural areas or in urban areas, they can access the same services, at the same speed, with the same results.
Our approach was welcomed by the Minister of Digital Economy and Public Finance, Kate Forbes, when she visited our HQ towards the end of last year. She noted the progress that we are making on delivering our digital agenda, and stressed the importance of ensuring that the end-user is at the heart of the development of digital services and that “we don’t use technology for its own sake but we use technology to improve the lives, ultimately, of those who are using our services.”
We couldn’t agree more. That’s why services like ScotLIS and DDS were developed with customers and stakeholders involved at every stage, and we are mindful of the fact that different communities may have different requirements, and we strive to support their needs.
If you are interested in Scottish land and property data you can find a range of our free data and statistics such as our House Price statistics and House Price Index on www.ros.gov.uk.
Kenny Crawford is Business Development and Information Director at Registers of Scotland
You can view ScotLIS at www.scotlis.ros.gov.uk.