When thinking of adjectives to describe technology, “life-saving” likely won’t come to mind — especially in terms of property technology, or proptech. However, a panel at the Proptech Association of Australia’s webinar Proptech in 2023: What lies ahead? explained how, in fact, tech could literally be a lifesaver, Australian Property Investor reports.
For example, panelist Julian Kezelman, program director for Taronga Ventures, explained how Trendspeks’ technology employs drones that capture imagery of a property’s exterior and take photos to create a full 3D model of the asset. That model can then be used to plan maintenance and repairs. Given that working from heights is the real estate industry’s leading cause of death – whether during repairs, maintenance and construction – such a technology could help save lives.
“It means not having to go up on the roof of industrial buildings to look for cracks, corrosion and roof deflection,” Kezelman said during the webinar. “It’s safe and provides millions of data points rather than just notes on clipboard.”
Proptech has also changed how the healthcare industry can respond to emergencies, Australian Property Investor reports. Taronga Ventures has also invested in Melbourne-based Spacecube, a flat-packable modular building system that can quickly create temporary buildings.
“They’re making temporary hospitals, so when a ward is being upgraded for example and you need to still provide continuous care, you basically just build a hospital unit in the adjacent car parks,” Kezelman said. “These kinds of concepts give asset owners the opportunity to experiment with that asset flexibility and think about new form factors into the future.”
Proptech can also help save the planet
The Spacecube solution helped build two modular sections of a two-story hospital during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic that was fully equipped in three weeks, Australian Property Investor reports. Once it was no longer needed, 90 percent of the building was recycled and the hospital is currently a community health center elsewhere, Kezelman.
Meanwhile, the desire for proptech growth in Europe has become more socially focused vs. using it solely to improve business operations and generate revenue, according to Kezelman. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) has played a large role in driving that movement.
“That comes from a macro-government level but also from the very responsible capital providers, such as the major Dutch pension funds and the sovereign funds in the Nordic countries,” Kezelman said during the webinar. “They are pushing this message onto their managers and that’s cascading down to the proptech we are seeing emerge in that space.”
Kezelman also noted that the proptech companies in the U.S. that have existed longer and have enough revenue were beginning to acquire other proptech firms and create broader platforms. For example, Measurabl, which provides ESG data for commercial real estate owners, is now purchasing smart building platforms and other data automation developers so they integrate their business throughout an entire property chain.
Protecting CRE data
Recent data breaches among larger companies have led the federal government to consider stronger penalties for these incidents, Australian Property Investor reports. Victor Dominello, the new South Wales minister for customer service and digital government, has also pointed out the type of data that real estate agents and landlords collect.
Panelist Rebecca Cope, digital economy partner at law firm Ashurst, said proptech companies should plan to get closer scrutiny and tougher penalties if they breach data regulations.
“I like to use the analogy that data used to be seen as gold but is now more like uranium; still incredibly valuable but you’ve got to treat it right or it’s going to blow up in your face,” Cope said during the webinar.
Cope also mentioned said Minister Dominello was exploring closing loopholes that exempted companies with less than $3 million of revenue, including many in the rental agency sector.
“We’re going to see more stringent regulations coming our way, and way more active regulators in this space, such as the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) who have received additional Commonwealth funding,” she said. “It’s crucial that people dealing with data and personal information are across all their compliance obligations.”