Blog: 5 October 2017An eye opener - tech in the property industry

Dan Mitchell

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Dan Mitchell

Planning Partner

Manchester office

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Speaking at the Insider “Proptech” conference this week challenged my thinking about our sector. Technology is moving at a pace and we are perhaps all guilty of not seeing the bigger picture of how this change is influencing the property and construction sector.

I also learnt a few new things. I must admit that I had no idea what ‘cloud mist’ is, or the great potential offered to cities by advancing the rollout of dark fibre, but this new digital infrastructure will underpin a revolution in the property sector.

Let’s consider the context.  Around 1,000 apps are created every day. People are using typically nine apps per day, 30 apps per month. 88% of adults in the UK regularly use the internet including social media – that’s over 55m people. Software is already disrupting most traditional industries. High profile companies like Uber and Airbnb are examples of how tech-orientated business models can influence the built environment. Undoubtedly there’s more to come with electric vehicles and ever speedier logistics.

In China they have built an apartment block using 3D printing. Surprisingly it was finished in 2015.

In Dubai they are trialling the use of drones to deliver Costa coffee to sun worshipers on the beach – the so-called ‘Coffee-copter’ – don’t you just love it!

In our own business we are developing new software tools to help our clients effectively promote their developments. Recently this includes our stakeholder engagement software that enables our clients to engage with the silent majority when submitting new planning applications. Codename ‘Project X’ (as it would be), we are aiming to link our client’s projects with social media, so that developers can engage with occupiers from scheme inception through to first occupation of a new building. Put simply, we are advancing new systems which the Millennials can tap into.

So, what can we expect over the next few years and what are the implications for developers? We are already seeing tech creep into the mainstream. It is already common to see intelligent heating and energy systems in the home that minimise energy use. Voice controlled home control devices can now be picked up cheaply which act as the new digital housekeepers. Some Council’s are asking for electric vehicle charging points as standard in new builds and super-connected broadband is the highest criteria in choosing an apartment (after price and location). We will soon see the mass rollout of supercharging points for electric vehicles and driverless cars. Now, where’s that drone with my Latté?

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