PropTech start-up using OS data to re-imagine buying property online
As co-founder of property.xyz, Robert Jones has been investing in property for more than 15 years and creating data led content with Property Investments UK for over 8 years. As a member of Geovation, Robert explains how his company has been utilising OS data with the aim of building the world’s most intelligent property platform…
Carly Florina, ex-CEO of Hewlett Packard once said, “the goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight”, and she couldn’t be more right.
Because while collectively we are gathering data at a greater scale than ever before, the usefulness of it all remains largely elusive.
As such, lying before us, at the beginning of the data revolution, are vistas of untapped potential. Companies possessing a vision of how to transform the information at our disposal into something useful find themselves empowered to make a meaningful difference in their respective industries like never before.
As a portal made for property investors by property investors, our mission at property.xyz is to build the world’s most intelligent property platform.
We want our customers to be able to buy and sell property with ease while enjoying access to immediate, user-friendly, well-presented and intuitive information; allowing them to make better and faster decisions about the local housing markets, they are looking to transact within.
Once we understood the kinds of information and insights investors would want access to, the next step was to find our data sources and begin the arduous process of organising it, cleaning it and ensuring that it could be kept up to date.
To achieve this, we spoke to and partnered with many experts and companies in the property data and PropTech community and we built up our technology to process and present these data sets as meaningful, on-page information, for our clients.
And yet, we faced a problem…
Our vision was to give property investors information that was valuable such as local rental yields, house price growth, market activity and demographics. What we had not realised was how difficult it can be to establish where an individual address might be or how we would define the word, ‘local’.
We started by organising our location data according to postcode, but quickly realised that wasn’t going to be enough. A postcode can cross city or county boundaries and, if we wanted the search function on our platform to be intuitive, we would need to organise our information both by postcode but also by place name.
Places and their boundaries, however, can be messy and open to interpretation. Then there are localities that have colloquial names and places that, while technically fall under one region, are perceived to fall under another to those who are familiar with the area.
We created a solution that worked but that wasn’t perfect. We still needed a clean dataset that would give us a central source of truth for address data; one that was both accurate and took into account some of the subjectivity that exists when we think about where some given location might be.
And after all the conversations we’d had, we knew that a good place to start would be the Ordnance Survey (OS).
The OS Data Hub
For technology companies in GB's property sector, OS offers a ‘point of truth’ for locations and addresses. When you are working in such a location-orientated business, such truth is essential.
So, for a newly launched start-up with significant requirements for accurate map data, the launch of the OS Data Hub couldn’t have come at a better time.
It can be both challenging and expensive to find the right data to complement a project and at this stage, we had over a year of navigating the available options for location-based statistical analysis to learn from.
Through its extraordinary APIs, the OS Data Hub makes the acquisition of high-spec, clean data simple to access, on-demand, and is a much more affordable alternative to other datasets available on the market.
But more than that, its use of elements such as UPRNs (unique property reference numbers), OS linked identifiers and OS Vector Tiles allows for greater connectivity between different technologies. This means that PropTech companies can collaborate and move forward more effectively as a community.
In the property world, we are all in the same business. Turning data into information and information into insight is the goal of property.xyz and of the PropTech community at large. To this end, the OS Data Hub is making such a goal much more achievable.