Introducing data standards – the link between RICS standards and PropTech

Dave Ramsey

Director of Data Standards (RICS)

We're committed to developing a suite of data standards to help the digital world interact with data that represents information created by its professionals. We need your help.


We focus much of our efforts on professionalising the world of surveyors, and people are at the heart of that focus. But the world is bigger than just people. Today’s world is awash with data, software applications, hardware components and digital companies all of whom interact with each other.

Data standards form the link between the standards our professionals follow and the software products they use.

What are data standards?

A data standard guarantees only that the format of the data is correct and present; it cannot guarantee quality. 

Data Standards are not a substitute for the written standard, they are complementary.

Often data standards are invisible but they serve an invaluable role of ensuring that data is portable, comparable and re-usable.

They are also a way to provide a focused, logical check on what our professional statements require of the user. Eventually we envisage defining the data standard will be a key step of every standard setting initiative – and arguably the most important part for many users.

Why are we focusing on this?

Buzzwords such as the Internet of Things are moving beyond the concept stages and into the real world. Behind every device there must be a standardised way of communicating and representing data-objects and developers rely on clear standards to ensure information can be used in ways they haven’t considered.

Cost measurement, valuations and building measurements are clearly embedded into much of what will be digitised over the coming years; defining schemas for the representation of data, providing guidance and ensuring compliance of software tools which make use of our standards is therefore vital.

How will we do it?

One of the first data standards will be the International Property Measurement Standard (IPMS) data standard, which defines the measurements of a building, so that it can be exchanged between applications. We must challenge ourselves to consider how issues such as ethical and compliance aspects should be captured since these areas are critical to our professionalism as an industry.

For many individual users a data standard will be – and should be - almost invisible, but the value they bring can be likened to the effect a coral reef has on the sea bed, a common and healthy platform for which an ecosystem can form around.

We know that without common languages local dialects can spring up which in turn water down the impact of a shared understanding of the world our data reflects. We must also seed this landscape with tools and processes to help our professionals use these new data standards.

A further challenge we face is the multitude of data standards already in the marketplace. Much of our work is to evaluate these standards and understand how they fit together with our own professional statements and the standards that these refer to.


We plan to publish the first of our data standards within the next six months and to do so we rely on working closely with the industry to deliver high quality implementations. If you are interested in working with us, please do get in touch.

We’ll continue to update the profession and we look forward to working with you all.

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