The concept of using data to revolutionise business progress is happening across almost all industries. Its value lies in its potential to enable us to discover insights into ways of doing things better that fundamentally improve the world around us.
The opportunities for the built and natural environment sectors which have flourished for hundreds of years on finding innovative ways to foster communities, manage land and resources, and build successful clusters of towns and cities, are vast.
How can we ensure we don't miss out on these opportunities to improve productivity and innovation?
The problem is that much of the existing data on real estate from land itself, through planning, construction, sales, leasing, letting, occupation, maintenance to end of life, is still held in fundamentally paper form albeit available in pdf format or as scans of original documents. Where data are held in more formal, structured databases or as Excel spreadsheets, a lack of common data standards and data models still makes sharing data within organisations and across the broader marketplace problematic.
This is a problem because data as we understand it today – continually forming in real time, and in gigantic quantities – can only really reach its true potential if it is shared, facilitating collaboration and fluid decision making to best serve the needs of our clients.
Take the construction industry for example. Without data being available and shared in a common format, the ability to carry out meaningful benchmarking across global construction and infrastructure projects is very limited.
The benefits of sharing data can be seen across the sector, allowing market transparency, improved productivity and insights to share with our clients to win business and positively impact the built and natural environments around us.
In order to resolve this challenge around inconsistent, unstructured data in the profession, we've developed a suite of data standards – open data models - that complement our existing suite of written standards.
These data standards support the capture, verification and sharing of data to a common format.
RICS Data Standards are already available for construction costs - International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS) - and property measurement - International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS). These will soon be joined by data standards for the International Land Measurement Standard (ILMS) – a due diligence framework for land and real property surveying, and for the International Valuation Standard (IVS) – known to many as the 'Red Book'.
RICS data standards are freely available to anyone wishing to implement them.
The Data Standards are available in both xsd/xml and json format with documentation describing their implementation and the full schemas.
RICS are happy to provide technical support and advice on how to implement the Data Standards and how to map across to other existing data formats. Please email Andrew Knight for more information.
It is critical for our profession to be able to understand and utilise data effectively. The underlying quality of the data will need to be managed...
RICS Future of the Profession consultation report, 2019
The built and natural environment sectors are on a journey to an increasingly digital future. In addition to the multitude of PropTech start-ups, well established firms are also investing in technology to reject traditional forms of data capture in favour of high-tech, more efficient and cost-effective ways to harness information. But are we culturally ready to make the most of this golden opportunity?
The built environment is seen by many, unfairly or not, to be slow to implement new technologies and approaches, and as a result to miss out on the opportunities to improve productivity and innovation. Yet it is easy to forget quite how far we've come in a short space of time. There are early signs everywhere that the industry is evolving and embracing new technology. The use of data is now a business priority in almost all sectors of the profession, and support for the development of RICS digital products and services highlights the impetus for evolving and adapting in this new digital age.
However, the sheer pace of change can make it feel unsettling, especially in an industry founded on long-term principles.
Aiming to increase engagement between the built environment sectors and technology companies, this growing community of firms from both worlds are working together to:
The coming years present a huge opportunity to embrace all the innovation that the PropTech world is bringing, coupled with a continuing focus on the role of common standards and the human professionals who guarantee their delivery.