Truth, transformation and real estate

First, seek out new ideas and try new things; second, when trying something new, do it on a scale where failure is survivable; third, seek out feedback and learn from your mistakes as you go along."

We are experiencing the most extreme changes in our behaviour and mobility.

It is a terrible irony of this current period that whilst we appear to be more connected than ever, we are at the greatest risk of drifting further apart. As Joseph Heller put it, 'insanity is contagious', our behaviour is situational and together we're facing a steadily growing risk of crippling alienation, exclusion and loneliness. For the built environment, for those involved in its provision and operation, the danger this poses to retaining a high level of quality in occupancy, management and maintenance is nerve wracking, for it comes at a moment in time when the world is changing rapidly.

As consumers we are being forced and manipulated into the most extreme changes in our behaviour and mobility since the advent of the motor car. From remote working, to online shopping and rapid local deliveries, to electric transportation, our built environment is being stretched and pulled to respond in new and unpredictable ways.

The whole of the property market, from housing to retail, is having to move to models of greater flexibility, and the built environment is becoming ‘experience’ orientated. This is fundamentally not the way in which the systems designed to operate, provide and manage property have been built to work. Huge movements need to be made by the sector if it wants to embrace a more consumer focused and user orientated approach. One in which the movement of information and data needs to be generated by the users of property, as opposed to those that operate it.

This presents a mammoth exercise in digital transformation.

Digital transformation is super hard. In many cases it simply is not possible because of the culture of organisations. Let's be frank, organisations that work with property are some of the least likely to undertake the risk and the costs involved. Thankfully as the urbanist Jane Jacobs put it, ‘new ideas must use old buildings’.

Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them…. for really new ideas of any kind—no matter how ultimately profitable or otherwise successful some of them might prove to be—there is no leeway for such chancy trial, error and experimentation in the high-overhead economy of new construction. Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.

The role of property technology is to find ways in which to more effectively, efficiently and sustainably utilise property. The solutions to the problems we encounter with our homes, offices and shops are not going to come from within the property sector itself. The sector however has a tremendously important role to play in steering the course of technology’s influence, in helping guide its users and consumers towards more sociable, healthier and more responsible ways of working, sharing and collaborating.

Hoop’d brings together stakeholders invested in the health and wellbeing of the local area, its residents and its economy.

In this role housing, spaces and places have a powerful position and responsibility in creating the right environments for data, information and consumer focused digital tools to flourish. For in our ‘post-truth’ society, a society in which misinformation is tearing at away at our best efforts in promoting inclusion and equity, the built environment is based quite solidly in the realm of truth and its interests lie very much in the promotion of clear, accurate, relevant and appropriate information.

This is why we are placing such a great emphasis on creating the tools and resources to build sustainable forms of local area engagement and communication. Our platform Hoop’d is designed to help bring together stakeholders invested in the health and wellbeing of the local area, its residents and its economy, to share information.

With the technical framework in place the barriers to improving digital inclusion are massively reduced, and the utilisation of digital tools and resources can filter upwards through small-scale, targeted and tailored hyperlocal initiatives, projects and programmes.

This is where so much fantastic innovation lies and where digital transformation will grow to create a revolution in data and intelligence for informing better service provision and the better use and operation of all our buildings, new and old.

If something's worth doing, it's worth doing wrong… Get on with it and see if it works.