The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated housing issues across the world, drawing attention to the challenges of access, sustainability, and public health and wellbeing. Each city is tackling its own set of location-specific obstacles that intersect with global forces in different ways.
On the plus side, the situation has sped-up digitisation and ushered in long-overdue changes that improve efficiency, help democratise access to housing and boost sustainability.
So how can governments, citizens and landlords of all types harness these opportunities and collaborate to shape housing of the future so that it works for everyone, everywhere? We take a look at some of the challenges highlighted by the pandemic, and a selection of exciting initiatives being pioneered to address them.
1. Addressing supply
As digitisation gathers pace, the power of data is being used across the world by forward-thinking policymakers to improve housing outcomes. In the UK, local and national governments are employing AI-powered geospatial technology that uses big data to map and analyze urban land, revealing its development potential for a range of use cases. According to Forbes, “Supporting the UK government’s need to build efficient housing, organizations such as LandClan and Esri use this technology to identify the right living and working environments, helping facilitate building plans that take into account the best outcomes for residents, developers and investors alike.
Catalyzed by the Covid-19 crisis, the construction industry is leveraging technology to address key inefficiencies – and passing savings on to buyers and renters.
Catalyzed by the Covid-19 crisis, which limits the number of workers allowed on site and extends the completion time of projects, the construction industry is leveraging technology to address key inefficiencies – and passing savings on to buyers and renters. Building Information Modelling, for example, has seen more widespread uptake in the past year, allowing stakeholders to meet virtually and share data across disciplines, significantly speeding up the process at the design phase. At the same time, artificial intelligence is being used to assess things like cost and locale in a virtual environment – massively speeding up the decision-making process at an early stage.
Meanwhile, technology developments like 3D printing are being used to support faster, cheaper, more environmentally friendly methods of construction.
2. Empowering citizens and community
Initiatives to engage the community in housing development existed already, but the onset of the pandemic prompted government, industry and citizens to collaborate in unprecedented ways. Across Europe, events like Wir vs Virus and The Global Hack were set up to tap into the collective insights and expertise from different parts of the community to address emerging shortfalls in urban and community infrastructure. Last year, Housing 2020, Europe’s largest housing festival, hosted a climate change hackathon to spark ideas to engage, educate and motivate the entire housing sector to adopt a climate emergency approach to all their decision making.
The onset of the pandemic prompted government, industry and citizens to collaborate in unprecedented ways.
Covid restrictions, including social distancing and lockdowns, also saw loneliness skyrocket. Yet, despite the challenges of living in large groups during a pandemic, many intentional communities and co-living spaces have thrived – with residents enjoying a heightened sense of community and wellbeing while retaining access to reliable digital resources.
3. 100% digital rental process
Perhaps the most significant impact in the last 12 months has been the accelerated push for the real estate industry to be more digital. Digital contracts are starting to become the norm, with Vonovia, one of Germany’s largest housing companies, recently introducing digital lease signing.
Bureaucracy is a major hurdle for renters and landlords alike. Real estate agencies have tended to work mostly offline, dealing with piles of paperwork and in-person meetings. For renters, applying for a home can be a major upheaval, especially for new arrivals, freelancers and those with non-traditional forms of income. At the same time, landlords and property managers are sometimes unable to access suitable tenants due to communication issues and data privacy concerns.
Digitisation provides an opportunity for the industry to address legacy issues and recognise the realities of renting in the 21st century. They can better respond to customer demand for digital end-to-end processes, and select tenants efficiently while accommodating a diversity of applicant backgrounds.
Digitisation provides an opportunity for the industry to address legacy issues and recognise the realities of renting in the 21st century.
Domi is using a cutting-edge, decentralised technology called self-sovereign identity (SSI) to provide a unique solution. Their digital passport allows users to own and control their own data, and provides a verifiable and transparent way for individuals, companies and governments to exchange private information. Potential renters can share only the data that’s relevant, while proving their income and other essential details that landlords require. Landlords and property managers get peace of mind through access to relevant information about their tenants, while guaranteeing data privacy and digitally managing contracts and tenant relationships.
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