ULI St. Louis News

Technology advances real estate development and land use planning

Technology & Real Estate Panel Discussion

At a recent panel discussion hosted by ULI St. Louis, industry experts laid out for the audience a range of technological advancements that are impacting land use and real estate development. From real-time tracking of traffic patterns, to AI-assisted financing contract review, to construction site monitoring, a host of innovations are making our businesses run faster and allowing for more efficient delivery of goods and services.

What does this mean?

While companies are leaning more on artificial intelligence (AI) to scan hundreds or thousands of documents to find specific language – a clause or indemnity – the trained human mind is still needed to review the final material and make a determination as to applicability.

According to attorney Stacy Wipfler, a partner at Husch Blackwell, “As AI continues to advance, the need for this human element will continue to decrease.” It may never fully go away, she said, but advances in this type of knowledge-finding activity have increased the speed with which attorneys can deliver real estate documents to clients and ultimately help close deals faster.

Other panelists noted the delicacy with which data parameters must be designed at the outset beforeany information is gathered. Both Andy Dearing, CEO of Boundless Geospatial Engineering, and MartinMcGreal, Co-Founder of Numia, noted that the data gathered and used by AI needs to be adjusted to correct for bias that is inherent in the data at the outset. The algorithms that drive machine learning are only as good as the data in the model. If bias is not corrected, AI will produce biased results.

The panel also took some time to clarify that when discussing AI, industry experts are talking about machine learning that uses data and algorithms to create predictive tools. (AI is not sentient intelligence as depicted in 2001: A Space Odyssey or the Terminator franchise.)

Tomislav Zigo, Vice President of Virtual Design and Construction for Clayco, described the application of real-time collection and data analysis gathered from the urban environment and on the firm’s construction sites. This data creates opportunities to rapidly address problems as the arise as well as rapidly experiment with solutions to common problems. Others are using this same approach to deployment of technology and real-time analysis in urban communities.

As he wrapped up the panel discussion, Moderator Travis Sheridan, President of the Venture Café Global Institute, encouraged the audience to consider the importance of equitable investments in the infrastructure needed as the backbone of new technologies. New technologies need to be used to advance all of our communities, not just those which have historically received reliable and sustainable investments.

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