PropTech: Why should you care?

Stephanie Bentley

Prop Tech Product Executive, Data and Information Products Group (RICS)

Recent years have seen advances in technology that are impacting on all areas of the economy and the real estate industry is of no exception. Whilst it is true that some technology is being developed simply for technology’s sake, others are adding real value to the work of a professional.

Plotr world drone

So how do we sift through the noise to decipher what to ignore and what is worth paying attention to? We asked leading industry thinkers at our recent Dilapidations Forum Conference.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has started with billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to information.

It may therefore come as no surprise that mobile devices are outselling traditional desktop and laptop computers. But what does the increasing rate of technological change mean for surveyors?

6 ways that data and technology is impacting on surveying professionals

1. Cloud technology

This is enabling professionals to store and access data and workflows over the internet, meaning that wherever you have a connection to the internet, you are able to work...

2. Connectivity 

... and connectivity around the world is only set to improve as we move from 4G to 5G. 

3. Open data

Whereas in the past, professionals were limited to using information only in the way that was prescribed, open data is enabling us to make use of information in a myriad of useful ways.

4. Intelligent data

For example BIM is now being widely accepted as a key part of the world going forward. As we gradually move from ‘big data’ to ‘intelligent data’ (unambiguous, concise data that aids decision-making), data is becoming increasingly invaluable. 

Data is the new gold.

5. Drones

Improved visualisation, reduction in health and safety risks and the ability to operate in confined environments (think sewers and power stations) were just some of the benefits of drones identified by Tom Willcock, Founder of Auster Aviation.

6. Voice to text transcription and the ability to annotate photos

Improvements in technology such as these are enabling surveying professionals to capture information digitally, and in at least the same amount of time (and in many cases much more quickly) as traditional pen and paper methods. Structured, ‘intelligent’ reports allows surveyors to take electronic data and make use of it (edit it, review it, share it, publish it) in any way they see fit, saving hours of time.

What does the future hold?

1. Better sensors

As sensor technology develops, point clouds will become more highly detailed offering myriad benefits to surveying professionals including increased levels of accuracy regarding the exact shape and size of a building in its physical space, precise data usage for 3D modelling and visualisation and improved cost estimates. Watch the video to find out other ways that sensor technology is impacting on the sector:

2. Improvements in LIDAR technology

This will have huge implications for drone technology. LIDAR allows drones to detect their surroundings and dramatically improve obstacle avoidance. And while we’re on the subject of drones…

3. Flight controllers

Drone racing as a sport is becoming increasingly popular (yes, you read that right!) and as a result, we are beginning to see dramatic improvements in flight controllers. Autonomous drones bring with them many benefits, not least vastly improving efficiencies as humans are able to work at their desks while the drone operates on its own.

4. Computing power and robotics

Machines are already outperforming humans in a number of tasks and as computing power increases, this trend will only continue. Look out for our ‘Artificial Intelligence in the Built Environment’ insight paper coming soon for more on this topic.

5. Regulation

Think back, if you can, to when there were lots of cars on the streets but no laws regulating them. They were almost impossible to keep track of until the government started regulating the market. Similarly, as the use of technology increases, we can expect to see the regulatory forces around the world slowly catch up.

The opportunities presented by the technologies listed above are numerous and this is likely to usher in a period of disruptive change for all industries including surveying. The time to act is now.

Comments (1)

  1. As a Chartered Surveyor and UAV/drone operator I am undertaking more and more work on a wide variety of property related projects. These jobs range from surveys for proposed development sites through to detailed building inspections. I would though emphasise the importance of using only licensed operators. Most property work would result in "commercial gain" requiring that only a licensed operator may be used. A further point is that all licenced operators have to carry the appropriate insurance. Check that the operator can supply the outputs you require and has the relevant experience.

    Jeremy Murfitt Jeremy Murfitt, 22 October at 12:14PM

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