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WING

Google’s Drone Delivery Trial Shows Why Finland Is a Perfect Testing Ground for PropTech

What would compel technologist and property industry professionals from all over the world to pack their bag and fly to one of the most Northern countries in the world on the first week of December? The chance to talk about PropTech of course. Yesterday Finland was host to the self-proclaimed “coolest PropTech event in the Nordics” called RecoTech. At the event keynote speaker James Dearsley, co-founder of PropTech research platform Unissu, revealed that according to their records Finland has the most PropTech technology startups per capita of any country in Europe.

Since the 90’s when Finland aggressively pursued a shift in its economy from mainly forestry related to being a world leader in technology research and development, it has been at the forefront of the technology, particularly telecommunications. Now it is set to be one of the first countries with a working 5G cellular network as the government has already auctioned off the 5G spectrum to its three cellular carriers.

It comes as little surprise then that Finland will be one of Europe’s first markets to have drone delivery. During the conference, Google announced its plans to launch a pilot program that would enable drone delivery of packages of 1.5 kilograms or less. The reasons for choosing Finland are many. One is that Fins are notorious for being early technology adopters. They are the highest users of mobile data in the world (by a good stretch) and have a well educated and affluent population that is able to afford the newest technologies. Another reason Finland is a good testing ground for drone delivery is that the geography and climate of the country are truly a worthy test. As James Burgess, chief executive of Alphabet’s Wing business line put it, “Based on what we know about the winter weather in Finland, we’re pretty confident that if our drones can deliver here, they can deliver anywhere.”

If drone delivery becomes popular in Finland we might start seeing the effects on its property industry as a precursor to the global changes that will inevitably come from the widespread commercial use of drones. Buildings might start to be equipped with drone landing pads and large warehouses on the outskirts of populated areas might increase in value due to their use as delivery nodes. Technology companies have always liked testing out new products on isolated, sophisticated markets. New Zealand, for example, has been a destination of choice for companies like Facebook and Nintendo to test new products.

The property industry should employ the same strategy. We should look at the impacts to the property markets of countries on the forefront of tech adoption and extrapolate it to the global asset class. Since real estate is connected to the changes in the way we live our lives those that best understand the technologies and trends that are affecting us will always be the leaders in the industry.

Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.