Real estate professionals have access to a broad spectrum of technologies which improve the customer experience. Among these tools, geographic information systems have risen to the top. A geographic information system — or GIS — allows for the detailed mapping of various environments.
GIS can capture, store, analyze, manipulate, manage and present a diverse range of geographical data. It often works in conjunction with attribute data, which provides additional information about spatial features. Through a combination of these data types, real estate professionals have a clear image of a given area.
As an example, a GIS gives the actual location of a school, while the name of the school, level of education and student capacity comprise the attribute data. Naturally, this information is valuable to a client with a growing family who wants to learn more about the school district in a specific location.
Of course, real estate professionals can streamline the customer experience and offer value in other ways. The immense potential of mapping technologies is impossible to explore with a single example. First, it’s critical to examine the emergence and adoption of these tools.
Emergence of Mapping Tools in Real Estate
The pressures of a growing population and rising house prices have driven demand for affordable housing. Professionals in the housing and property sector have managed an array of issues, each of them urgent. They’ve had to find land for development, optimize property maintenance and ensure the security of residents.
In response to these challenges and similar problems, real estate professionals have adopted a variety of tech-driven solutions. As they’ve refined their methods and improved upon their former practices, a rapid digital transformation has taken hold of the industry. Mapping software is part of this change.
Its integration is easy to understand when you consider the many applications of mapping technology. It enables automated land assessment, which can unlock development potential. Furthermore, it facilitates ongoing maintenance and management through efficient resource allocation and consistent status updates.
Beyond land assessment and resource allocation, professionals can also employ mapping tools to increase information transparency across an organization. As an example, property development firm Argent has used it for a complete and accurate record of all of the assets from its King’s Cross development project.
As context, the King’s Cross development represents one of London’s largest ever mixed-use development projects. Argent has drawn on the power of mapping technology to scrutinize how the site will look at different points in the future. In doing so, they can make more informed financial and business decisions.
Advantages for the Customer Experience
With the integration of mapping technologies, real estate professionals have found new ways to enhance the customer experience. At the forefront of innovation, the GIS company Esri has changed the proptech landscape and expanded on mapping technology to incredible effect. Their tool, ArcGIS, is a fitting example.
ArcGIS attempts to address a significant problem with the operation of older facilities with modern retrofitting. Though facility owners have implemented a variety of new technologies, these systems are often separate from one another. This makes it difficult to share and utilize the information they generate.
Beau Ryck, a geographer at Esri, said, “Esri’s new ArcGIS Indoors software helps these facility owners and property managers integrate data from these various systems that capture information such as space occupancy, asset condition, work orders, incidents, etc… and represent it on a map of their buildings to help understand it and take action.”
According to Ryck, occupants have easy access to these applications, as they’re compatible with Bluetooth and wifi-based indoor position systems, or IPS. Concerning the applications themselves, ArcGIS Indoors provides a real-time map for facilities and workplace services groups so the occupants can understand where work needs to get done. They also know the best way to get there.
Ryck continued to speak on the capacity of ArcGIS Indoors, saying, “…facility owners can empower comfortable and confident occupants with easy access to information and accommodations and collaboratively engage operators in the maintenance and adaptations of their buildings and sites.”
Mapping Tools on the Market Today
In addition to Esri’s ArcGIS, real estate professionals have a wide range of mapping tools to select from. Some of the less functional tools are free to use, while the more expensive programs can cost $4,960, like MapX. Depending on the needs of the user, they may have to spend a considerable sum of money.
On the lower end of the spectrum, MapBlast provides an accessible solution. It’s practical for a quick mapping of a property and the surrounding area. However, the program has certain flaws, and real estate professionals may struggle with overlapping map labels or illegible text that obscures the information.
They may have more success with Maptitude, a product from Caliper that retails for around $395 with an international version for $495. Users can customize maps with integrated graphics charts and adjust the levels of detail. It works on a network, with a database, spreadsheet package or census CD.
For real estate professionals with a large budget and a knowledge of programming, the aforementioned MapX is a viable option. It enables developers to embed mapping services into a number of software applications that use programming languages like Delphi, Visual Basic, C++ or PowerBuilder.
Ultimately, interested professionals should seek a product which meets their individual requirements. Whether they need to manage resources, integrate data between systems, reduce pain points in offices or something entirely different, they have a long list of options as they continue their search.
The Future of the Industry
Real estate professionals have yet to explore the full potential of mapping technology. As they move into the next decade, they should view systems like ArcGIS, Maptitude and MapX as an opportunity for growth. They’ll learn more about their industry and develop new ways to enhance the customer experience.
However they choose to proceed, one thing is certain. GIS will have an important role to play in the future of PropTech and the future of the industry as a whole.