The Chief Surveyor, Michael Whiteman, heads the Survey Section and holds statutory powers that empower him to direct, supervise and control all surveys, including the authentication of legal cadastral surveys. He regulates the land surveying practice and is the authority for the preparation and publication of the official maps of the Cayman Islands.
The legal cadastre underpins the Cayman Islands Land Registration System. Cadastral surveying is the process of mapping property boundaries to provide an unambiguous definition of the parcel extent and to maintain the Registry Maps. A legal requirement in the registration process, they can only be undertaken by Licensed Land Surveyors and Government Surveyors in accordance with the Land Surveyors Law and Land Survey Regulations for the Purposes of the Registered Land Law.
Legal surveys fall into two categories: Fixed Boundary and General Boundary Surveys.
These are governed by stringent technical and legal requirements. In order to facilitate their efficient processing, Quality Assurance (QA) has been introduced. Quality Assurance is more proactive and efficient in regulating land surveying practices and processes. Although many benefits have been realized with the introduction of QA, one of the more obvious is the shorter through-put time of surveys. Immediate beneficiaries are Developers, Realtors, Creditors, Bankers and the general public that deals with land transactions. Government has also benefited by the more expedient collection of Stamp Duty and other legal fees.
In addition to legal surveys, the Survey Section carries out other types of surveys such as: Control Densification, Topographical, Engineering, Road, Volumetric and Hydrographic. The Cayman Islands is a coordinate-based, not a measurement-based system (see Cayman Islands Coordinate System). Technological advancement in survey instrumentation, computer processing power and software developments have effectively positioned the Department as a leader in surveying expertise and consultancy.
Of special note is the rapid development of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology that readily lends itself to a broad range of applications, including but not limited to, beach monitoring to determine erosion and accretion and the measurement of storm surges. On the back of such applications critical to the environment and the economy, additional CORS/RTK stations have been installed to provide complete coverage of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
Additional tide gauges have been installed to better monitor the rising sea level as a result of global warming and the Mean High Water Mark (MHWM). Both are essential in determining property extents of seaside parcels.
The Survey Section is also currently undertaking highly specialized projects such as the formulation of a new Cayman Islands Geoid and Projection, extensive bathymetric data acquisition from shore to “drop-off” and the installation of Seismic Monitors for Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI).