Town & Country Planning crosses digitization milestone of 100,000 legacy documents

Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis announced for public information that the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) of the Ministry of Planning and Development has made another stride in the transformation of its services to the public, which involves digitization of vital documents as well as the automation of its construction permitting system through DevelopTT.

The TCPD has completed the large scale digitization of 100,288 files and application documents as part of Digitisation Project, Phase I, which covered its North and South Regional Offices. This achievement involved the digital conversion of 1,524 plotting maps; 2,935 subdivision layouts and 95,829 green file applications. Green file applications are for permission to develop land and consist of outline approvals and final permission for planning applications.

This phase of the project also saw the Creation of:

  • An online digital vault to house all digital data. This vault is accessible to all staff of the TCPD from any device.
  • A digital plotting register of applications submitted to the North Regional and South Regional Offices for all submissions over a 9 year period.
  • The 100% repair and remediation of all records constituting the TCPD’s datasets.

The overall goal of the Digitization Project is a complete shift to digital capture, management and storage of the TCPD’s paper-based development control legacy data to allow for easy incorporation into the automated system of construction permitting, DevelopTT, which is now being prepared for piloting in the South Regional Office.

According to Minister Robinson-Regis, the Digitisation Project creates an ease of access to land data for the TCPD, presenting several benefits, which include:

The availability of a comprehensive, readily accessible database to assist in accurate decision making; increased efficiency of development control processes due to the elimination of unnecessary and time-consuming vault searches and the elimination of illnesses to staff caused by dust, mold and mildew found on old files. Staff can now access thousands of materials and legacy information without ever having to leave their desks.

This also provides an electronic medium to access historical data regarding the spatial development of Trinidad and Tobago.

This will also benefit citizens by eliminating the wait on responses to queries regarding applications and land use data.

There are two other sub-phases of the Digitisation Project yet to be completed which include phase II A- involving 51,000 applications; 3,611 sub-division layouts and 605 plotting sheets in Trinidad. Phase II B is the Tobago component, which has an estimated quantity of 14,255 applications; 903 sub-division layouts and 476 plotting sheets.

The Planning Minister adds that this achievement falls in line with the overall Transformation Project of the TCPD and government’s digitization thrust. It incorporates enhanced service delivery in the TCPD’s offices; the automation of the construction permitting system now in effect in Port of Spain and environs as well as County Caroni, facilitating the building application process online and of course the digitization of all records.

This will help to meet Trinidad and Tobago’s National Development Strategy: Vision 2030’s goal of ‘Delivering Good Governance and Service Excellence’ while meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11: ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’.

The Ministry of Planning & Development through the TCPD possesses almost fifty (50) years of information on the spatial development and growth of Trinidad and Tobago and it is imperative that a high premium is placed on the maintenance and management of this critical data.