“Who shares wins: the impact of technology on building safety” – A Look Back In Order to Look Forward

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“Who shares wins: the impact of technology on building safety” – A Look Back In Order to Look Forward

As we move into 2021 with a mix of eager anticipation and an underlying sense of trepidation about what lies ahead, I can’t help but try to focus on what we can do to help our clients -and potential clients – forge ahead and continue to make improvements to their business. For many property management businesses this is the ongoing need to embrace digitisation to enable successful communication with clients and suppliers, to grow, to improve processes and systems. And, to improve the safety and wellbeing of clients.

Last year, the Institute of Residential Property Managers produced a series of White Papers centred around technology in the industry. I’m going to take a look back at one of these papers, “Who shares wins: the impact of technology on building safety” with a focus on what the industry could possibly do in 2021 to prepare for much needed future changes.

You can access the White Paper here.

Comprehensive Data

Comprehensive design and fire safety data is rarely available, so property managers have no way of knowing whether or not they are taking on a building that is safe. They are managing ‘blind’. There was a broad consensus that this must now change: in order to manage risk effectively, comprehensive data must be available and shared. The government’s proposed new regime, with its emphasis on transparency, will help improve building safety going forward but existing buildings will remain a major challenge.”

If Property Managers want to know each and every one of their buildings inside out, for existing properties, this must be done retrospectively. In 2021, might Property Managers  find it useful to pull together a comprehensive checklist of their portfolio? What information gaps are there? And is it possible to fill these gaps? Could conducting inspections and surveys allow Property Managers to start building the information they need?

The Golden Thread

The White Paper goes on to mention the ‘Golden Thread’ of information that will be ‘fundamental to the future safety of all buildings’. This can only be done through information sharing and making it as easy as possible for people and businesses to share that data. This information then needs to be made accessible to everyone who needs it. However, as the White Paper points out, this can get tricky as the net widens. Security and avoidance of data breaches must be a top level priority. This is an area where no potential solutions have been identified and continues to be under discussion. As a software provider we would put forward that a comprehensive procurement process is put in place that allows all partners involved in any type of software development to be able to communicate and work together to provide optimal solutions.

In 2021, Property Managers might wish to take matters into their own hands to collaborate and look for solutions together. Could the industry set up a Steering Group or appoint a Board to set the wheels in motion? Or would Property Management Companies benefit from having a point of contact in each block to be responsible for completing a questionnaire about their building, much the same as a building insurance application?

Data Sharing

“There was recognition of the importance of setting a standard digital model to facilitate data sharing across different systems – for example when buildings are handed over from developer to operator. Government is also considering the feasibility of ‘passporting’ relevant information to and from residents as they move in and out of blocks.”

This is one for the software companies to get right, with the input of the property management industry. As data will need to be shared, this opens up questions around security and data safety, which must be given the highest priority. This will be no easy task and it will have to be done with great importance placed on clear, collaborative measures. Property Management companies can prepare this year by considering what they need and what solutions will best fit them and their clients.

The White Paper outlines the need for Property Managers to have in-depth knowledge of the buildings they manage. This requires consistency, pinpoint accuracy and a zero tolerance approach to errors. Technology is integral to this giant, but much needed step forward. The technology already exists, so we all need to work together to ensure that technology is used to its full advantage for the benefit of everyone involved.

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