The real estate industry is in flux right now, reacting to the new ways we communicate and share information.

The internet has shaken up the buying and selling process, getting in way of the traditional realtor-customer relationship. And new tech is making it possible to make real estate transactions faster and more efficient, reducing costs and providing better data along the way.

That's why Team AiLTA from the William Warren Group created the $100,000 AiLTA Challenge. They're looking for a new way to perform property boundary surveys, using an efficient and autonomous survey system.

Boundary surveys are costly and can take over a month to complete, slowing down the entire process quite a bit. But an autonomous survey system could be cheaper and much more effective, performing surveys for a fraction of the cost.

Team AiLTA believes that the solution will come from combining machine learning with aerial imagery, perhaps taken with drones. Check out this interview with the challenge creators, learn why they do what they do, and you might get some insight into how you could win their contest!

Q. What drives you to work at William Warren?

The entrepreneurial spirit of the company.

Q. When did you realize you wanted/needed to run a HeroX challenge? Were you inspired by any other incentive competitions?

I was at a conference early in 2016 where there was a presentation about the original Ansari XPrize competition and many of the incentive competitions that they are currently managing. Later in the conference, HeroX presented their platform. As I thought about the analog nature of the real estate, it seemed like an incentive competition was a perfect way to disrupt the industry.

Q. What aspect of incentive competitions makes them effective?

The smartest people, the cutting edge thinkers never work in your company. The incentive competition allows for the access of the collective intelligence of the community and provides a solution you’d never get on your own.

Q. If crowdsourcing wasn’t an option, how would you (or your industry/organization) approach this problem? How has it been approached in the past?

It probably wouldn’t be addressed.

Q. What major recent innovations come to mind when you think of the real estate industry?

The advent of web-based realtors like Redfin and Zillow. Prior to web-based relators, residential real estate transactions were controlled by traditional realtors. Web-based realtors have improved information sharing and reduced commissions paid by the consumer.

Q. If you had to guess, which professional field will your solution most likely come from? Why?

Aerial imagery and data science. We need to combine aerial imagery and cognitive computing, and also data science seem like the fields best equipped to effectively come up with a solution.

Q. Do you have any advice for HeroX innovators working on your challenge?

Focus on solving components of the problem, rather than solving the whole problem.

Q. What are some of the world-shifting effects you think might come from your challenge?

Improving real estate transaction speed and lowering costs. Additionally, the technology developed to solve this problem can be applied to other industries.

Q. Where do you see the real estate industry going in the next 50 years? Do you think property surveys will always be necessary?

I would expect that property ownership information will transition to a public ledger database like the blockchain. Currently, there are frictional costs in all parts of real estate transaction which will be significantly lowered through the use of a public ledger database. As information becomes more accessible the survey will be unnecessary.

Did this interview get your gears turning? If you have a great idea to automate property boundary surveys or just want to learn more, check out the AiLTA Challenge page!