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Data Standards will Encourage PropTech Revolution in Real Estate
By Andrew Knight, International Data Standards Director, RICS
However, while there are many organisations using technology to allow built and natural environment data to be held in a structured form, there remains a significant issue around the lack of a common data standard to provide a common environment to facilitate the sharing of trusted data.
Data is the new oil
The real estate industry is changing every day, and with continued advancements in technology, decisions around everything from how we build the best affordable eco-homes to the smartest transport systems, are heavily influenced by data collection.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that data is at the heart of the PropTech revolution and it’s worth reflecting on the widely stated phrase that ‘data is the new oil.’ However, oil in its various forms flows relatively smoothely around the world, while valuable data, and particularly real estate data is often not stored in a form that can be shared easily. In many cases, there are market drivers and behaviours that act as a strong disincentive to sharing.
Lack of data standards & data models
As well as potential disincentives, there are practical issues to sharing real estate data. Much of the existing data on real estate from land, which includes planning, construction, sales, leasing, letting, occupation, maintenance, and end of life, is still held in paper form albeit available in pdf format or as scans of original documents.
This data is held in more formal, structured databases or as Excel spreadsheets, as the lack of common data standards and data models makes sharing data within organisations and across the broader marketplace problematic.
It is key to understand that data governance procedures and policies protect not only sensitive data from unauthorised access, but also provide clear direction on what data can be shared, and with whom
New RICS Data Standards
As a global professional standards body, RICS has recognised that this issue remains a significant barrier for the sector and has developed open data models that complement its existing suite of professional standards for the real estate sector.
These new RICS Data Standards support the capture, verification, and sharing of data in a standard format, enabling property professionals to use and communicate trusted data for analysis, benchmarking, and decision-making around investment opportunities.
The RICS Data Standards are available for both construction costs (International Construction Measurement Standards) and property measurement (International Property Measurement Standards). Shortly, these will be joined by data standards for the International Land Measurement Standard (ILMS)—a due diligence framework for rural land property surveying—and the International Valuation Standard (IVS), known to many as the ‘Red Book.’
Furthermore, we are developing—through our BCIS (Building Cost Information Service)—the ability to take construction cost data from a variety of data formats and sources and convert these into a variety of standard industry data formats. Without data being available in a common format, the ability to carry out meaningful benchmarking across global construction and infrastructure projects is limited.
Data must be trusted and protected
It is critical that the data that is collected and stored can be trusted. The role of professionals right across the built and natural environment has never been more vital to ensure that information is collected and verified and that any digital representation of a real estate asset is true to life. While the data held on blockchain applications is immutable, the sector needs to make sure that the original data sources can be relied upon, because provenance and data quality is critical.
Whilst the benefits of sharing data across the sector should be clear, allowing market transparency, and benchmarking for owners and users of real estate assets alike; there will always be situations where data cannot be shared for privacy and reasons of commercial sensitivity. It is key to understand that data governance procedures and policies protect not only sensitive data from unauthorised access, but also provide clear direction on what data can be shared, and with whom.
Our solutions provide trusted and safe data for real-estate firms to help signpost them to PropTech firms and technology innovations that adhere to RICS’ professional standards, through our Technology Affiliate Program (TAP) and growing global community of exemplary PropTech firms.
PropTech must be embraced
The coming years present a massive opportunity for those in the built environment to embrace the innovation of the latest technology advancements, including data standards. We will provide support to help stakeholders understand and implement property technology and RICS data standards at a commercial and technical level, to ensure that they advance their capabilities and keep pace with the evolving market and changing customer needs.