About Survey of Israel

Survey of Israel is the goverment agency for Mapping, Geodesy, Cadastre and Geoinformatics. The Survey is responsible for the national infrastructure in these areas as well as for a number of official functions. In many countries the responsibility for these various areas is shared by several agencies.
There is much to be said for centralized responsibility, because of saving professional human resources and the potential of increased efficiency and improved level of services to the public.​​

There is a coordination of activities and of investments and the potential for making a concentrated effort in cases of a defined task of national importance. It is essential to develop professional policy in the various areas of the responsibility of the Survey, including the licensing of surveyors and the supervision of surveys.

In the field of geodesy, the Survey operates as the National Geodetic Institute, adopting the reference ellipsoid, developing and maintaining the geodetic control network, defining the national datum, both horizontal and vertical and establishing an appropriate projection with accompanying mapping equations and transformations, for applications in mapping, cadastre and geoinformatics.

The Survey represents the country in international projects. Its Chief Scientist leads research, as well as geodetic surveys and temporarily acts as Registrar of Surveyors.

In the realm of cadastre the Survey leads activities leading to land registration (Land Surveys Department). The registration of rights to land is based on Torrens principles, which in effect provides a state guarantee of the rights registered. The Survey is responsible for defining boundaries of blocks and parcels in terms of coordinates and plans. All these procedures are anchored by Survey Ordinances.
95% of the country's area has undergone the settlement process. All this area is subdivided into approximately 15,000 blocks and 800,000 parcels. The Survey deals every year with the continuation of settlement and also with new subdivision (re-parcellation) which express mutation in rights to land or its use, or both.

The Survey of Israel is the National Mapping Agency, responsible for defining mapping products required, with a special attention to construction infrastructures, security and emergency services, environmental protection, tourism and research and development.
These tasks require the establishment of standards, coordinate networks including specifications for map projections, accuracy standards, practice of toponymy and symbology.
The standard map series at the present is the 1:50,000, from which the 1:100,000 series is derived. The present editions of these series were produced by analogical methods and revised by digital methods. In addition, a number of 1:25,000 maps have been produced, all based on the National GIS digital data files, managed by the Survey. It would be appropriate to say that all map series are in the stage of transition to a digital cartographic process. Additional products worth mentioning are town plans and the Atlas of Israel being produced with the cooperation of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The topic of geoinformatics has been entrusted to the Survey by government decisions of 1990 and 1993, meaning that the Survey is responsible for the National GIS databank, including a uniform set of codes to ensure compatibility and an interministerial forum which is a platform for discussion and formulation of policy.
The National GIS includes a topographic data bank, derived from aerial photographs at the scale 1:40,000 and periodically revised. The data bank consists of 10 data layers with appropriate codes. There is also a cadastral data bank, based on cadastral maps and plans. It is used to supply information and to manage cadastral operations, but it has no legal standing equal to the original documents. In addition, there is a bank of addresses, in larger population centers, managed in cooperation with the National Census Bureau.
A major progress has been made in supplying information to the community of surveyors, with the aid of access through computer terminals.

The Chief Scientist is responsible for channeling the research and development activities within the profession and has become a major influence on research performed in the academic in fields such as dynamic geodetic networks, a three dimensional cadastre, etc.
It is appropriate to mention successful projects in the field of geodesy, such as the geodynamic network G1 and the permanent station GIAN network which serves the whole surveying community.

Challenges and goals

The following are the main topics to be taken care off when I took responsibility as Director General of the Survey:
The Survey of Israel has been facing for the recent years a number of major difficulties, namely a budget crisis, human resources crisis, a lag in bridging the requirements of the agency and the requirements of the clients and some inadequacies in the relationship with the users.

The budget crisis is not limited to the Survey, but is common to all government bodies and is the result of an economic depression, radiating on almost all fields of activity. The simple reality is, that after reserving the sums required for the cost of manpower and a very basic maintenance expenses, there is an insufficient budget left for routine operations and particularly for development. The insufficient investment in development has resulted in a lag in technology, in updating of information resources and unfortunately in the quality of services to the users.
One of the steps taken by the Treasury in order to improve the economic situation has been a cut in the budget available for manpower, resulting in a systematic reduction in the number of employees, a cut in the already low salaries, no promotions and not even a remuneration for increased productivity, all of which contribute negatively to motivation of the personnel.
Another step has been to declare many budget items as dependent on income from services performed, resulting in a major reduction in resources available, since many of the Survey's customers were themselves affected by cuts and limitations.

The human resources crisis is characterized by a number of phenomena. The low constrains imposed on the manpower budget resulted in the Survey's inability to absorb new professionals and to rejuvenate its ranks.
A great many professionals retired without being replaced, the only source of available human resources coming from the immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
If we add to this a low level of motivation caused by diminished salaries, very limited prospects of promotion and the unclear future of the Survey, we have a very dim picture of human resources.

The lag in readjustment to requirements and to users - The Survey has been in the past a leader of technological advancement amongst government agencies. It received a Kaplan Prize for computerization of professional procedures 30 years ago and was entrusted with the responsibility for Geographical Information Systems in the government ministries some 15 years ago. It leads in the introduction of new concepts such as the three dimensional cadastre.
Notwithstanding all this, the Survey has not succeeded, for a number of reasons, to adapt itself to customers and to requirements.
The principal reasons for this have been an insufficient investment in research of requirements in the government sector as well as in the public and private sectors, non-receptiveness to changes in organizational structures and hierarchies, usually derived from such investigations. The budget crisis and the human resources problems contributed their part to the state of affairs. Two examples show the inadequacies. The first one is in the realm of cadastre, where a large gap developed between the rate of approval of registration plans submitted and the requirements of the public.
The second example is in the realm of GIS, where a gap has developed between the requirement for up to date information and the information currently supplied by the Survey.

A crisis in relations with customers

​The budget and human resources problems mentioned earlier, caused in the last few years a crisis in relationships with the customers of the Survey. The customers in other government agencies complained about methods of budgeting in general and the need to pay another government agency for data. The licensed surveyors in the private sector complained about the prices of various services and also about the slow pace of checking and approval of registration plans. Many customers in both private and governmental sectors complained about the absence of ready availability of the data (e.g. through the internet).

Goals to be achieved

The challenges to which the Survey will have to stand up in the next few years, are to a considerable extent influenced by the presently existing problems. The following goals are seen on the agenda in their order of priority:

Effectiveness – to improve the effectiveness in realization of the Survey responsibilities to the public and to the government. 

Re-Organizational – to adjust the organizational structure of the Survey, in order to increase effectiveness, to adapt it to the constraints imposed by the government in order to decrease the size of the government sector and increase the use of the private sector, especially in tasks involving production.

Cooperation – to improve the cooperation between the Survey and other government bodies and also between the Survey and the communities of surveyors and customers in general.
The relation of goals will be formulated in a multiyear comprehensive plan which will include short and long term priorities, to be approved by the minister responsible.

As a very first stage of planning I see a comprehensive evaluation of requirements and of users in all areas of responsibility.
The very first goals set out by me on assuming the Director General's position in 2003 were: acceleration of land registration, creating a topographical map series based on the National GIS and cultivating the level of human resources from the point of view of motivation and professionalism.
The acceleration of land registration is gaining momentum within a 3 year plan, the objective being a complete elimination of a backlog by 2006. The period of checking and approval of registration plans will be limited to two months, instead of up to tow years, applying a number of means to achieve the goal. More than 50% improvement has been achieved by the end of 2003.
The most difficult problem to deal with is the problem of human resources, especially in view of the constraints imposed by the Treasury in the form of a freeze on hiring new employees. We need a certain leeway in absorbing young and promising professionals who will form the future core of management, both administrative and professional. We shall have to find a way to convince the Treasury that we have in mind a remedial plan, which will permit us to achieve our goals without deviation from the personnel levels approved. We are thinking in terms of absorbing some 15 carefully selected employees within the next 4-8 years, in order to ensure a core of the future infrastructure.
A number of activities are worthy of mentioning, because they are characteristic of the Survey deployment for the future:

The three dimensional cadastre project.

The analytical cadastre.
Geographical data banks at a national level.
The Survey supports the idea of closer cooperation with the Association of Licensed Surveyors and with other partners, with the objective of providing more effective and less expensive services to the public.