Data Intelligence for the Real Estate Sector: Freeing humans from the equation

The hype around data intelligence is huge. If you listen to the experts it will:

  1. Allow you to see the future from patterns of data from the past
  2. Create breakthroughs in business productivity by exposing hidden opportunities
  3. Allow machine learning to take over from human thinking to make better decisions

In the real estate sector, we deal with massive amounts of data. Buildings are complex entities that spew forth literally millions of data points, from energy usage to tenant behavior, from security management to rent records. While there is a plethora of rich data that could provide valuable insight and accurate forecasting, these insights are irrelevant, however, if you don’t have accurate data.

The showstopper is to use people to gather the data. In the course of our business, we have noticed that people are starting to resist responding to questionnaires, filling out online forms or submitting to good old-fashioned data entry! In fact, they are rebelling, and you can blame smartphones for seeding the rebellion.

Many of the apps on your smartphone are beginning to combine readily available data with information like the appointments on your calendar or your list of contacts to do useful things for you. Just recently I’m sitting in a meeting and my phone rings unexpectedly. It’s a notice from Waze (a traffic routing app) telling me I need to leave now to make an appointment downtown. It was frankly a little creepy. However, it was also very useful. Waze accessed my calendar, found out where I needed to be next from the appointment address, knows where I am now from my geolocation and then calculated the time and alarmed me in advance.

In everyday life, we are getting more and more used to data being synthesized intelligently to serve us in unexpected ways. With machines now beginning to work for us, there is a rapidly declining tolerance to have to work for a machine. The challenge with data intelligence is to gather the data without requiring a human being.

One obvious source is through sensors. New smart buildings use sensors such as temperature, humidity, utility metering, along with digital outputs from HVAC equipment to automatically monitor and manage the building environment. For example, security cameras are now able to double as monitors of human traffic through the building and can even be applied to manage below grade parking.

The solution is to ride this rebellion and use these and other readily available data to begin to look for opportunities to support people in the normal course of doing their work. For example, if a building operator gets a report about a leak in the basement, we can notify him of approved vendors, send out automated quote requests and even tell him that the fan on the nearby wall needs an inspection. Using current technology cleverly connected to how people work, we can turn the tables and have the technology start to work for people, rather than the other way around!


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