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Artificial Intelligence | What it is and why it matters

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Emma Gordon

Almost 70 years since Alan Turing developed a test to find out if a machine could exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from that of a human, today artificial intelligence, AI, is a huge part of our lives.

Whether you’re asking Siri what tomorrow’s weather will be like, having Amazon’s Alexa compile an exercise playlist, or deciding whether emails are spam, we’re increasingly exposed to AI.

What is artificial intelligence?

It means programming a machine to simulate intelligent behaviour and, beyond that, with the likes of machine learning, predicting outcomes and acting on those calculations without actually being explicitly programmed to do so.

Why is it important for property?

AI has potential across the property sector with benefits ranging from fewer mistakes and faster completion in design and construction, to optimising building efficiency and user comfort, as well as accelerating sales.

What are the applications?

There’s a huge number, and it’s growing rapidly. Examples include —

In design and construction, the RICS in its 2017 paper on AI in the built environment, paper said: “AI will…extend the role of building information modelling BIM; for example, identifying missing components and or details, and forewarning of conditions that have been previously identified as unsafe, potentially inoperable or judged to be undesirable against defined criteria.”

In building automation and property management, AI can detect issues and resolve them before an outage or combine sensor information with analytics to optimise space and energy use.

In agency, property search analytics already improve matches between prospective buyers and their ideal properties, while AI chatbots interact with potential purchasers, renters or sellers: speeding up deals.

Who’s working in this area now, and what are they doing?

BuildingIQ | Says its Predictive Energy Optimisation service can deliver a reduction in HVAC consumption in the typical range of 10-25%. Its software works with a building’s control system to automatically fine-tune temperature and pressure set points.

KONE | The Finnish lift manufacturer uses the IBM Watson Internet of Things platform, gathering information from sensors on lifts and escalators, to predict the condition of these machines. If a possible issue is found, technicians are notified. Watson identifies the issue, the likely cause and suggests a solution. All this, the company says, leads to less downtime, fewer faults and more detailed information for its maintenance crews.

Sorbet | Provides a software assistant for letting agents and property managers that, for example, automatically books contractors when reports and safety inspections are due. Tenants can use a dedicated app to report issues, and Sorbet automatically chooses one of the landlord’s approved contractors to carry out the work.

Houseprice AI

 

Houseprice.AI | Machine learning is used to generate property valuations with, it says, an average root mean square error — the difference between the predicted values and those achieved — rate of 2.6%, with half of its projections even more accurate.

Apartment Ocean | Provides “AI-powered real estate chatbot” facilities that answer common questions via a website chat portal 24/7, extracting information so estate agents can target the most promising opportunities.

The RICS insight paper concludes: “AI will impact just about everything. The question is the extent and timescale involved.

“We feel we must underscore the need for surveyors of all disciplines as well as other built environment professionals to understand what it can do for their own work and life outside work, and to do so sooner rather than later.”

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Readers Comments

Love what elevator firms like Kone and others are doing. Read a great piece about their testing sites, deep in a forest in Finland, somehwere recently

By Pete