"This project not only means a significant service improvement for citizens, lawyers, financial institutions and other government agencies, it has the potential of increasing revenue by allowing us to capture approximately $5 million that were lost annually due to inefficiencies."
“Today our registry ranks 164 out of 189 in the world. We are moving towards an accessible, agile, efficient, 100% electronic registry. In less than two years, we have placed it at the top of the list.”
Cesar Miranda, Department of Justice Secretary
For prospective buyers trying to close a deal on a property in Puerto Rico or lawyers investigating current owners in an inheritance settlement, title searches were often cause for frustrating delay. Obtaining a clean certification or registering any real estate transaction required a visit in person to the specific section of the Puerto Rico Property Registry (PRPR) where the land record or deed was registered.
The original volumes, dating as far back as 1863, were plagued by mold and rapidly deteriorating due to manual handling: “Our country’s heritage was disintegrating”, says Mayra Huergo, Department of Justice Associate Secretary.
The PRPR’s legacy application Ágora acquired a decade ago was a disconnected system individually serving each of the registry’s 29 sections, housed in 17 locations throughout the island. The system was so complex that PRPR could have as many as 300,000 documents waiting to be processed, resulting in loss of revenue as lawyers withdrew documents before they were registered.
Government agencies could not search for critical information such as possible tax fraud or place embargoes.
“This project not only means a significant service improvement for citizens, lawyers, financial institutions and other government agencies, it has the potential of increasing revenue by allowing us to capture approximately $5 million that were lost annually due to inefficiencies.”
Cesar Miranda, Justice Department Secretary
“The 260,000 document backlog we have today will become a thing of the past because we are simplifying processes, eliminating paper and digitalizing information. Users will be able to access services anytime from anywhere on the island or around the world,” he added.
The creation of a Digital Registry was divided into two projects; the first required the digitalization of all the registry volumes and the second entailed creating a robust technology infrastructure for the registry’s archives to centralize data management and to expedite services through online access, automatic notification of inscriptions and errors, and electronic payment capabilities. New legislation was required to allow electronic signature, payments and document delivery.
The PRPR selected INVID from 20 local and international firms that participated in a public bid to develop and implement the new IT system that would bring the land registry’s 19th century system into the 21st.
The new Puerto Rico Digital Registry now connects not only the land registry’s 29 sections and its parent agency the DOJ, but also the Treasury Department, Planning Board, Municipal Tax Collection Center (CRIM) and Permits Management Office (OGPe).
Microsoft SQL Server 2014 was implemented over a Windows Server Failover Clustering cluster and AlwaysOn Availability was enabled. INVID developed stored procedures for all data queries CRUD and data business logic. Reporting Services was used for reports, receipts and other documents generation. Reporting Services are accessed via web service to get a PDF instead of using a report viewer component.
The API application is hosted in a dedicated IIS server web farm with load balancing. All data is transmitted used JSON format.
Karibe’s web application is hosted in another dedicated IIS server web farm with load balancing. It is a single page web application that uses HTML templates. The development architectural pattern used was MVC. Jade was used to create HTML and CSS files faster. It also uses bootstrap framework for responsive adaptation to mobile or desktop browsers. Cloud Backup is provided by Microsoft Azure to protect data and critical applications in case of natural disasters.
Centralized data and online access means all users can access the system 24/7. Notaries can submit all supplemental documents in PDF format and will receive timely notification via email of any defects that may prevent registration of documents they have submitted.
Connection with five other agencies not only benefits the government but also expedites transactions for citizens. Treasury receives the revenue generated by transaction fees directly and agencies have instant access to the information required to fulfill their responsibilities.
Integration with CRIM y OGPe allows citizens to validate if a property they are registering is situated in the correct location or if it has any municipal tax issues at the CRIM. Citizens and notaries can avoid long lines at multiple agencies by accessing information about deeds, property maps, leans and embargos, tax debt, and permits through a single web application.
“Supervision of the registrars and other personnel was difficult for lack of adequate tools”, says Huergo. “The system now streamlines processes and automatically assigns cases preventing arbitrary selection of documents presented for processing. Registrars access documents pending their approval with their digital fingerprint.”
The revenue estimates have exceeded all expectations making the project self-liquidating. The cost of the entire Digital Registry transformation, including the digitalization process, IT infrastructure and development and implementation, was paid with the revenue generated in the first two months.
At a Glance
Customer: Registro de la Propiedad
City: San Juan, Puerto Rico
- API: RESTful API architecture, .Net, C#, Entity Framework, LINQ, JSON
- Microsoft Visual Studio
- Microsoft SQL Server
- Reporting Services (SSRS)