What are the IT solutions currently in use in the real estate industry?
The real estate and construction industry uses a number of off-the-shelf and bespoke IT solutions. Computer-aided-design tools, geographical information systems, animation and visualization tools, financial modelling software, project management software, back-end tools for accounting and payroll, and other business software tools are regularly being used by organizations in this sector. Use of social media for customer engagement and co-creation has also started taking shape. Recently on large and complex project data management and document management tools are also being deployed.
How has the industry taken to adopting IT? Could you share some examples that deserve to be mentioned as a case study?
Internationally the construction sector has been slow to adopt IT in its various business processes. Indian scene is no different. There is reportedly low usage of IT in the sector especially due to the presence of small and medium enterprises. A plethora of problems exist—fragmented nature of the industry, lack of standardization, restrictively framed contracts, lack of incentives, and general apprehension about IT.
Real estate development is an information intensive process. In real estate development we integrate diverse and specialised intellectual resources and expertise; and thrive on the creation of project delivery networks based on alliances between participants from contractually-bound multiple organisations. Timely information availability and sharing can significantly improve operational efficiencies leading to reduction in project time and cost overruns that we currently face.
Various efforts to showcase the use of IT in the real estate sector are now available. Recently a proof of concept activity was undertaken in Gurgaon wherein existing built environment was modelled using a vehicle mounted 360 degree video camera and laser scanner. Data collected from the equipment was processed and converted into a three-dimensional (3D) model of the 100 acre community for the purposes of urban renewal and regeneration via community input. Recently Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation has recommended the adoption of 3D modelling technology for all the city-level infrastructure development for Dholera city; placing the foundation of a smart city.
Numerous developers have adopted a Building Information Modelling (BIM) or Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) technology to streamline the design and construction processes. BIM or VDC allows the project team to design and construction the project twice once “virtually” and then on the site. This facilitates eradication of a majority of mistakes and inefficiencies in the processes.
What initiatives is the RICS School of Built Environment taking?
Currently the School is engaged in three broad research streams related to the use of IT in the Built Environment sector. The first focus area is in the use of modelling and simulation at various scales starting from a building level to the precinct/city level. We are in the process of forming a National Building Information Modelling (BIM) Taskforce to evangelize the use of BIM in the Indian real estate sector. Enhanced use of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software by project-centric organizations is the second on-going effort in the school. Thirdly we are looking at the use of mobile computing, cloud computing and big-data to fight the inefficiencies caused due to “fog of construction”. The three efforts underpin the broad vision of providing information anywhere at any time in the project delivery cycle.