It is not often that you see a Professional Institute that thinks decades ahead of its time. Back in the 90’s the New Zealand Institute of Valuers (NZIV) did just that when it created a company called Headway Systems. Without recent property and sales data, and it goes without saying that it must be reliable, Valuers cannot meet their legal job obligations!
In a very forward-thinking decision back in 1996, the NZIV created and then gave Headway the objective of ensuring the supply of business-critical property sales data to its members and the corresponding development of software to maximise that data’s usefulness.
Back in 1996, the internet was only just starting to be noticed by the general population and emails were a very new thing. Computers were huge and expensive, and we hadn’t even started to worry about a thing called Y2K bugs! In those early days many of Headway’s valuation subscribers to that data were posted it… on paper, in an envelope, with a postage stamp in the corner! The more advanced received the data (again via NZ Post) on 128kB floppy discs, which were manually loaded into a very early version of our Valbiz product (ValPak).
My reason for bringing this up is to point out that in a market segment where there is a steady stream of new purveyors of information, that Headway was managing data flows well before it even became a ‘thing’.
As time and technology progressed, so did interest in control of that Property and Sales dataset, a period we often refer to as ‘The Data Wars’, had begun. Throughout this period Headway maintained that business-critical data supply to the valuation profession by negotiating dozens upon dozens of direct supply contracts with the Local Authorities responsible for capturing that information. So, we went straight to the source and made sure that our clients were getting the most accurate and most timely data possible, whilst based on customer feedback, constantly evolving our software that supported it.
To improve and increase our offerings, about ten years ago Headway partnered up with Custom Software of ‘QuickMap’ fame, used by many professions and almost all surveyors. Their geospatial data management systems were second to none in New Zealand and they remain market leaders in that space (excuse the pun). Together we began to offer products that combined both the Local Authority and the Land Information NZ geospatial datasets and over time became more and more expert in matching those two data sets.
As options to access property and sales data become more numerous (eg via free websites), and those datasets become more widely disseminated, so too increased concerns about the quality and the pedigree of that data and information gleaned from it. For example, how many organisations have cleaned, corrected, removed or altered data they consider erroneous or ‘non-market’ on its journey to the product where the data is displayed? How complete and up to date is the dataset?
Current Government direction is to make this dataset more freely available and more open than ever before, which will only ever encourage more and more products to use that data in their offerings.
If the information is business-critical, why would you risk saving a few dollars to access it from third or fourth party sources when you could access from pedigree providers that you know have direct data feeds with associated contractual performance obligations, and who have been delivering that business-critical service for decades?
It occurred to us that the Legal Profession may also want the security of a proven pedigree for their property data, whether it be for property conveyance or litigation investigation purposes. Lawyers can now access this information simply and online via a ‘Prover’ subscription. www.prover.co.nz
So, well done the NZIV for having the foresight to ensure professional representation in a fast evolving, but business-critical tech sector. And lucky Legal profession, who now get to share those benefits.
by Glenn Hughes