“Just two years ago I was stumbling around rooftops, often without adequate safety systems and at night, taking infrared images to find areas of trapped moisture underneath the waterproof membrane. Nowadays, I rarely have to leave the safety of the ground at all, day or night.”
Intrigued? You should be.
This is the experience of Mike Edwards, CEO at Ocuair Ltd. Below he shares his views on just how ‘PropTech’ is impacting the market, looking specifically at the use of drones and BIM.
Drones: The ‘right’ sensor
As a surveying tool, a drone is just that, another tool in the tool box, and without the right sensor attached to it, it’s arguably just a glorified ‘selfie’ toy. But what impact can this tool in particular have on our industry?
1. Enabling safer surveying
By this, I do not mean simply that for me as a surveyor, I am no longer required to wander around an entire 1000sqm roof to find a defect isolated to 10sqm. Drones are also able to target where a contractor needs to gain physical access to rectify that defect, leading to substantial savings in those remedial costs by mitigating unnecessary works, time and access required.
2. Enabling surveyors to re-engage in the benefits of other technologies
Infrared, photogrammetry and Lidar are just a few technologies that are improving value for clients.
3. More informed decisions
The more readily we can acquire better data about the assets we manage, and then communicate it effectively to stakeholders, the better we are able to make informed decisions, which in turn leads to more efficient workflows.
The ‘dark’ side of drones
But in some instances, as with aerial drones, new tech brings new safety challenges. Far too often we see members risking health and reputation, either flying without due consideration for the required qualifications, insurances and regulations or contracting to those few who choose to ignore them. As soon as these challenges are overcome, we will begin to see the true benefits of drones in our industry.
BIM: What relevance does it really have?
It would be amiss of me to talk about PropTech and not mention BIM…but what relevance does it really have if the vast majority of projects were constructed long before the dawn of BIM?
Speaking to members of the Association of University Directors of Estate (AUDE) recently, I wasn’t too surprised to hear their grumbles when being told (quite rightly) by a consulting firm they should be ‘exploiting the efficiencies of BIM…’
However, considering that for many years to come, the majority of portfolios won’t have been ‘BIMed’, how can we exploit these efficiencies?
Previously, Scan2BIM, has been perceived as being cost prohibitive, as the technology has been emerging and the process slow and highly skilled.
Today we can generate millimeter accurate 3D models of an entire campus (including roofs) within a matter of hours. I believe we are at the advent of mobile PropTech facilitating the digitisation of existing assets which will enable large portfolios to be ‘BIMed’. Combined with cloud powered processing, big data handling, IoT, machine learning, AR, VR etc. BIM will allow you identify an issue, determine the solution, associate a cost and tender the works, all without once having to strap on a harness.
Once digitised, the potential for cross-disciplinary communication and collaboration is endless and in ways we previously haven’t considered.
One example would be, having created a 3D measurable model on behalf of an architect as a base line for redevelopment, the model was ‘nabbed’ by the clients marketing team and is now being used for VR guided ‘open day’ tours.
We have the tech available to us to deliver this today. What we’re now doing is seeking innovative ways of marrying this tech together, both hardware and software, to further reduce the perceived burden of acquiring this data.
But innovative SME’s and RICS PropTech Affiliates currently leading the way can only make small isolated ripples unless there is a willingness by large practices to integrate it into their day to day work; there are benefits for everybody if there is a willingness to embrace a change in the status quo.