My Conversation with a Fellow of Nigerian Institution of Surveyors on Zenvus Boundary

My Conversation with a Fellow of Nigerian Institution of Surveyors on Zenvus Boundary

Since we launched Zenvus Boundary, a tool which helps anyone to map his/her property for N7000, to the public, we have received many emails and calls from licensed surveyors (in Nigeria) for explanations. This is not a new product: we have used this for works with (farming) cooperatives which the Central Bank of Nigeria funded. Honestly, I do not understand the confusion: Zenvus Boundary has never claimed it is a legal tool or can help you overcome government CoC, DoA, etc legalities. We simply have a technical tool.

Zenvus Boundary maps farm, land or house perimeter boundaries, calculates the areas and populates the data onto Google Earth. From Zenvus portal, the surveys can be downloaded or printed. It supports cooperatives, governments and individual farmers, enabling these entities to have survey reports at a fraction of the typical cost of surveys.

Today, a Fellow of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS) took it public; we truly appreciate the comments as it offers the opportunity to respond in this way. I have responded to him. Largely, the confusion in Nigeria is that it is only licensed surveyors that can help a farmer or a gardener who needs farm map before deploying precision agriculture. For us, registering properties with government is just one of the uses of a map. CBN does not even care on what it does with farm surveyors: it simply wants to know where this land is situated, size, etc to help in its loan scheme. No one asks you if a farm in a bush in Yola was registered with the ministry of lands.

Again, Zenvus Boundary is a technical tool. We do not claim any legality. See it as a pencil which can help you as a surveyor but it does not give you a surveyor license. But if you want to work with us, we will generate that your typical output.

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If you present a photo to a court, it may ask you to get a notary public to “legalize” it. That you need to do that from a notary does not mean the photo is not valid. Our outputs deliver the same thing those expensive ones do. But we are not notary public and do not put any legality to the outcomes. It is left to our partners and users to work on those.

Meanwhile, to download and install Zenvus Boundary app, do it on Google Play here. The following are the manuals (PDF) on how to use the app and also print the survey results: Mobile App manual  and Web manual.

This is the conversation.

Are you aware that the profession of Surveying is regulated by law in Nigeria? Are you also aware that Surveys used to state claims to any land holding are called cadastral surveys and such surveys should be prepared to a specified precision and duly authenticated by a professionally qualified Surveyor?
1. Zenvus: Thank you for writing. This is highly appreciated. It means people are noticing our product. This product is not JUST for Nigeria. This is a global product. It is a tool just as the surveying tool you use for whatever you do. I am not sure the tool you use knows you are a surveyor. Take this solution as a technical tool. It is irrelevant if your T-square or pencil knows you have a surveyor license. We have a tool which is not designed to overcome any Nigerian surveyor law, specifically. Please check well, and read our claims: we did not quote any Nigerian law. We do not just operate in Nigeria. Our largest market today is East Africa. It is left to local surveyors to meet all the legal obligations by using our tool. Nonetheless, I would be happy to work with you to help Nigeria develop a cheaper way to ensure we reduce the cost of property surveyors in order to encourage people to patronise the industry.

In most states in Nigeria only Cadastral Surveys prepared as I have described above can be used to process Certificates of Occupancy, Deeds of Assignments, Serve as documentation for Loans and process building and development approvals. As innovative as your “system” is, it falls far short of meeting not to talk of replacing the requirements of a cadastral survey.
2. You are extrapolating on the possibilities which is good. But I know that the pencil you use as a surveyor does not give you COC, DEA, etc. I am not sure we have claimed any of such. We have a tool and we do not claim any legality or law. Just as you buy pencil for your surveyor service, see this as a technical tool. But note that there is nothing in your typical survey output we cannot generate using our raw data. Of course, you sell it more expensive because you have a license. We offer a technical product and not a legal one. People build on that.

I think you have been economical with the truth regarding the points on which your service can deliver. truth be told you cannot self audit, self medicate, self investigate and self try someone in a case you are involved.
3. Keep writing. Our services are used in the CBN Anchor Borrowers programme for farmers. Go and ask those farmers how this has helped them. Farmers cannot afford the expensive work of the surveyors which are not necessary for the use-cases. I will be happy to attend your association meeting and educate on the benefits of mapping. Do not look at the law. Without digital mapping you cannot do PRECISION AGRICULTURE. A farmer does not need to register his farm with government before implementing new farming technologies. Your understanding of the use of surveyors is largely focusing on pay me to get surveyors so that the output is registered with government. That is a very limited use-case. There are many use-cases that would not affect registering with government.

The public should be warned that this will give u a good photographic representation of what you call your property. Something you alone can enjoy and possibly others may admire but not something can can stand up legally for you as a properly executed SURVEY.
4. We are not claiming any legality. Nothing here states that. We are simply offering a technical solution which can power precision farming. I have surveyors like you that have signed like agents, nevertheless. They are customizing the output to make what you have but in a very inexpensive way. Their license will handle the legality. The pencil you have as a surveyor does not make you one.

Dear Sir and members of the public kindly check up the following The Nigerian Institution of Surveyors, The Surveyors Council of Nigeria, Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation, Office of the State Surveyors General etc.
5. We know them. Our product is not against them. If you take a photo and present it to a court. The court may say it is not legal until a notary public notarizes it. But that does not mean the photo is not valid. You, the surveyors are notary public. People do the work and pay you to endorse so that the documents can be “normalized by law”. Our simple request: do not charge them much for those that want the legality element. But on the technical capability, modern tech is making doing this at 10% what the old system used to offer. We are a technical company and not a legal/surveyor/etc. We offer a technical product.

Finally, Zenvus Boundary is used in India, Kenya, Liberia, etc. It is not just Nigeria. So, we have not made this to overcome any local law. This is very important.

[Another comment] It is beyond endorsement, it is about precision and accuracy that is what a professional Surveyor is know for. Whatever your tool or app does as long as you are using Google map as you cliam is not accuracy as relate to survey laws and regulations in Nigeria.
If you care to know, I don’t use Tsquare or pencil to draw survey plan. The tools we use it’s about accuracy depending on the type and area of the survey. Any GPS does not do that. It is good for you to know that.

I do not know the level of accuracy you need in a farmland with a market value of N70k in a bush in Zamfara but you need the survey to tap into the CBN fund or prepare the land say for precision farming. Hiring you may cost N300K. But with my technology, the farm gets it done at N7k. As I have said, the lack of innovation in the sector is this thinking that every survey must be on the same level as though you are mapping Aso Rock. To unlock value in modern farming, NIS has to evolve. What we have is helping farmers track farm boundaries to enable precision etc at scale.
On pencil and T-square, that is actually a joke. Do they still make T-square? But get the point. Again, this is not just for Nigeria – this is a global product. I will be happy to visit NIS and educate how innovation in surveying can unlock more productivity in agriculture. Surveying is not just buildings!


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