How can Real Estate take advantage of Big Data?

The ubiquity of mobile devices and the growing number of sensors are generating a massive amount of data that real estate professionals can take advantage of. I have been asked to present my thoughts on the topic on the 7th of February at the Digital Real Estate Summit organized by SVIT School and POM+ at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. The objective of this article is to share some examples where big data could play a role.

I will illustrate the potential within two areas:

  1. Finding new ways of working
  2. Developing new services

Finding new ways of working

Nowadays, telecom operators such as Swisscom produce billions of data points daily that can be transformed into anonymized and aggregated traffic patterns. In my previous article, I presented the advantages that it brings to a city to improve its city center attractiveness.

Having access to this “big data” stream can enrich 3D tools that are being built for Real Estate professionals. For example, the ETH spin-off CloudCities is developing an intuitive 3D map for property management. These maps include property details such as picture, floor space, price, availability. In the future, population density and a dynamic view of traffic could be added. These new insights could for example be used for property valuation or vacancy monitoring. This information can be integrated into Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems and I could imagine companies putting their Real Estate portfolios online with up-to date information to promote them more effectively.

A second field where big data can bring a competitive advantage is during the construction phase: 30% of the total construction costs are related to logistics. Currently, there is no real time traffic planning performed, there is a continuous flow of heavy vehicles which are not fully loaded and there is a lack of synchronization between material demand and material delivery. Furthermore, there is an increased pressure from cities to reduce construction site impact related to CO2 emission, noise and congestion around construction sites. The company Amberg Loglay is working on such a logistics optimization platform for construction sites. By combining multiple sources of data, the number of truck rides, the time to delivery and the routes to the sites can be optimized.

Developing new services

An interesting area to increase the value of your real estate assets while addressing a major societal challenge is through building adapted apartments for elderly people. According to the European Commission, the 80+ population will increase by 40% between 2016 and 2030 and the main objective is to enable living at home as long as possible to this group. Property owners could install sensors to monitor the well-being of the elderly individuals. For example, the startup DomoSafety is already monitoring more than 200 apartments and has developed algorithms to detected abnormal behaviors. For instance, diseases like Alzheimer can be detected.

This service is an opportunity to mix the demography of your building or neighborhood. Construction companies like Losinger Marazzi are introducing community apps in their new construction. In the future, new services and new roles can be introduced: beside the traditional concierge, facility management company can have a medical concierge service. This medical support is local and human, but combined with a data driven approach enabling early diagnosis of disease, monitor of diseases recovery and chronic disease treatment.

Identify where you want to go

The Real Estate sector has a lot of data, which combine with external sources and new sensors can make them more efficient, improve the customer experience or bring new services. Currently the real estate industry starting point of using digital data is coming through the Building Information Modeling (BIM), where the stakeholders are still challenging the advantages and value against the upfront investment.

Starting your digital journey by enhancing and adapting your existing processes is a possible path but since digital transformation is about solving problem in a new way or creating new business model, what about starting first by identifying your objectives for a transformation: Based on our research, the objectives can be divided in three categories: support the execution of strategy, solve a problem or improve the customer experience. In my above examples, it would mean that a company:

  • has the strategy to balance the age mix of their tenants
  • wants to solve their problem of high construction cost
  • wants to bring more transparency and simplify the customer property selection

You can find below the slides I have presented at the conference.