Last week, half the team attended the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) annual fall conference in Milwaukee. It was our first RESO conference, and a great opportunity to connect with members of the real estate community who play active roles in the overall quality of the dataflow, communication and business processes that underpin the workings of the residential real estate industry. It was also a first time in Milwaukee for some of us! Interoperability, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), consumer privacy and data distribution security were discussed in great detail.
We’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the important points mentioned in those presentations.
Our presentation: Using RESO Standards to Achieve Network Interoperability
Edouard, Jacques, and Stephen gave a talk on how we combine RESO standards with decentralized technologies to deliver network interoperability. Interoperability, or really, the lack of it in our industry, was indeed a theme that ran through many sessions. One complaint we heard over and over was that brokers, Multiple Listing Services (MLSs), and vendors all suffer waste, expense and aggravation from duplicative data entry and uncommunicative systems. The imbrex protocol replaces these problems with connectivity.
The protocol is a core technology in our stack. It’s a custom software that we have continuously developed to power our listings API and many decentralized features. The imbrex protocol pushes and pulls listings from the blockchain. Combined with the RESO Data Dictionary, the imbrex protocol provides interoperability and enables users to maintain control of how they share their data. Through the Data Dictionary, released by RESO on periodic basis, RESO creates a consistent naming schema for listing properties, so that all members of the real estate community can share listings, without first having to consult each other’s naming conventions. In other words, what language is to speaking, the RESO Data Dictionary is to sharing listings. Here are our slides if you’d like to see more about how it works.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) & Consumer Privacy
Digital privacy has become a widespread topic across the world and various legislative actions have gone into effect, such as the GDPR, to protect personal data. Scott Lockhart, CEO of Showcase IDX, discussed digital privacy and how the Real Estate industry will be affected by GDPR. It is critical for all industries, including Real Estate, to take the necessary steps to safeguard users’ personally identifiable information (PII). PII exposure points in Real Estate include, but are not limited to, lead data, CRM use, transactional email providers, mailing lists, MLS data and lead marketplaces/referrals. Steps to safeguard personal data involve implementing basic website compliance such as cookies and privacy policies, and transparency about the data being used and where it is being shared downstream. Providing privacy protections by design, as integral to your engineering process is a competitive advantage. Achieving privacy, including retractable consent and the right to be forgotten, in an ecosystem like ours, where sharing data is integral to realizing its value is a complex endeavor. To help shape future standards, it is important to actively participate in the privacy conversation.
Data Distribution Security
Amy Gorce, Principal, Business Development at Corelogic, provided a thorough presentation on Data Distribution Security and introduced the Trestle Defender. MLSs and Brokerages face risks relating to the misuse of listing data. Risk challenges include privacy legislation, breach notification, wire fraud and the loss of consumer trust. Corelogic released the Trestle Defender, which provides comprehensive tools to tackle these challenges by monitoring high risk data users, securing the distribution of data with licensed use, assessing customer behavior and reporting of listing usage.
Privacy and Control by Design
Imbrex’s entire thesis is predicated upon two or more competing entities being able to exchange data without giving up control. We believe that control and privacy should be features, when it comes to digital data exchange and dissemination technology. The Ethereum blockchain and IPFS give us the ingredients to create protocols like imbrex, that will accelerate both control and privacy. Controlling how your data will be used downstream will become a powerful tool and create new layers of privacy management. Combined with the imbrex protocol, customized smart contracts, that use public/private key encryption, enable us to track how data is being used. Data originators can decide how far their metaphorical river should flow down valley and which landowners have riparian rights.
We held meaningful discussions with many different stakeholders in the real estate industry, including MLSs, RESO leadership, technologists and firms. There appears to be a shift underway, where the real estate industry is keenly focused on working together using technology to solve fundamental communication issues that have bogged down real estate for decades. We applaud RESO for encouraging open discussion and collaboration, and are excited to be a part of RESO’s vision and continued efforts of streamlining the real estate technology industry. Interoperability is our raison d’être!