Technology is here to stay - but are we ready for it?
Danielle Lester looks at the potential impact of surveying technology, as well as technology's impact on society as a whole
Digitalisation offers huge opportunities for professionals working in the built and natural environment. As we adapt our practices to integrate new technology, we still need to think and act differently – more "smart", in fact – to reap the full benefits of the digital revolution.
The built and natural environment sector has been something of a latecomer to digitalisation. Even so, we are seeing the emergence of digital solutions that connect real estate clients and customers at a previously unachievable scale – particularly in the field of valuation. Professionals are now also using BIM to create digital twins of assets to reduce costs within construction phases; and to manage and maintain the assets through their lifecycle once completed.
But to realise the full potential of digitalisation, we need to standardise while we digitise. We have already seen – from the automotive sector in the 20th century, to the music industry in the 21st – how certain industries have implemented standardised data-driven processes to increase profitability and efficiency. Standardisation has allowed these sectors to collect and use data to optimise business performance, create new revenue streams and transform customer experiences.
Doing this in our sector presents a challenge. The way we currently collect and analyse our data is, in most situations, unique and the results unstructured, which makes data difficult to share and compare with confidence. Where we do hold data in more formal, structured databases, the absence of common standards still makes sharing it within organisations and across the broader marketplace problematic.
Without data being available and shareable in a common format, the ability to carry out meaningful benchmarking of global construction and infrastructure projects is limited. This means forecasts are less accurate, projects less predictable, and investors less confident. We can only use data to its full potential if it facilitates good collaboration and timely decision-making.
The role of standards here is key, as they create a consistent basis for measurement. RICS has developed data standards to help professionals convert information produced via the International Construction Measurement Standard and the International Property Measurement Standard into shareable digital formats. We are now expanding this suite of standards to include the International Land Measurement Standard and the International Valuation Standard, offering greater scope for professionals to act with confidence when providing digital services.
These products will help resolve the issue of inconsistent, unstructured data in the marketplace. Crucially, our suite of data standards do not replace our existing standards, but instead complement them by supporting the capture, verification and sharing of construction and real estate data into common formats.
Data is now woven into the fabric of the modern world. Just as we navigate around cities, so too do we trace routes through data, and use it to build knowledge and products. My advice to the sector therefore is this: digitalise soon, be open to working differently, and don't look back. Ultimately, the value of using these technologies lies in their potential to generate insight that helps us work better together, and therefore provide greater confidence to the people and societies we serve.
Chris Brooke FRICS
Chris is the Co-Founder of Brooke Husband Limited, a consulting firm based in Hong Kong which provides strategic market insight, development consulting and investment advisory services to real estate owners, developers and investors throughout the Asia Pacific region.
Chris is also an Independent Non-Executive Director of Link Asset Management Limited, the manager of Link Real Estate Investment Trust.
Chris has 28 years of experience in various fields of the property industry, including 12 years with CBRE during which he held senior management roles in both China and Asia, as well as overseeing consulting activities throughout Asia Pacific.
Chris was previously the Chair of the RICS Asia Pacific World Regional Board, and was RICS Senior Vice President from June 2016 to November 2017.