CityIntelekt, from the UK, is CBRE’s PropTech Challenge 3rd edition Disruptive Idea Category winner. CityIntelekt, founded by William de Haer, is a revolution in risk reporting, stakeholder analysis and political soundings for property projects. This initiative provides greater access to social intelligence via Machine Learning. The algorithm uses social, political and economic data, to help developers analyse and predict how local residents might react to new development on a site. Owners can also use the tool for properties in their portfolio.



How and when was CityIntelekt founded?


A few different experiences came together really – I had been working in the property industry but specifically in the area of politics and public policy. I had a genuine fascination with community and political “unknowns” that cropped up each time a developer proposed a new development – the million-dollar question of whether they would get planning approval without upsetting local people and what factors communities react to most strongly.


I left that work and took a break to do my Masters at The Bartlett/University College of London, which was around the same time as a lot of surprise political developments – Brexit and the Trump Presidency are the main ones – and I (like a lot of people) was struck by this phenomenon of the pundits and polls being so wrong! It seemed incomprehensible that we could’ve been so bad at predicting these outcomes, but then I remembered how hard it was to predict how local communities might react to development proposals!


CityIntelekt only really came together as a business idea when I used my masters dissertation to explore whether machine learning might be the solution for better predictions about the things local communities oppose about development and how likely they were to get involved. I built the first of the CityIntelekt “tools” in that process, established that it works, and the rest has spiralled from there.



What is CityIntelekt and what is its value proposition?


CityIntelekt is an online map-based dashboard deploying artificial intelligence to forecast opposition and contention affecting Real Estate projects. It removes guesswork and makes it easy to anticipate community reactions, target community engagement activities and choose the right messages.

Our mission is to put social intelligence at your fingertips. We apply machine learning to political and stakeholder engagement, providing timely and accurate risk reporting, stakeholder analysis and political soundings—helping clients engage, achieve social licence, protect reputation and realise their competitive advantage.



What applications does it provide to the Real Estate industry?


Clients will experience CityIntelekt by simply typing the address of an existing site or potential acquisition into the online dashboard. This unlocks a suite of four tools, which are:


  1. iOBJECT that forecasts the latent conflicts likely to arise as objections during the planning process.
  2. iMOBILISE that forecasts the extent to which local people have agency to mobilise against projects.
  3. iFRUSTRATE that forecasts the clout, salience and resolve of local people influencing the planning process
  4. iPREDICT that links all the others together to forecast the overall likelihood and intensity of action by local residents.



Which technology does your project use to improve the Real Estate industry?


CityIntelekt is able to beat its human competitors using a technique called machine learning. This is crudely modelled on the human brain. It creates predictions using networks of nodes that output signals in response to certain inputs. With the help of big data using tens-of-thousands of individual data-points the machine learning models can produce results that are astoundingly accurate and can be updated in near real-time, so you can understand the risks at play for different sites you own or are considering acquiring.




Why is data collection so important in the Real Estate industry?


Data is absolutely fundamental because it is the best means we have for minimising risk. Using it to learn and augment existing processes – even ones that have been unchanged for what seems like forever – can produce huge time and cost efficiencies and ensure the industry continues to be profitable. This is especially important in the context of a global housing crisis and new challenges to development viability coming from all angles.


While there’s a big upside there is also a strong possibility new PropTech initiatives will be limited unless we can roll-out standardised, open-platform solutions. Ideally, this means widespread collection of data of large volume, high velocity and of diverse variety with temporal and spatial referencing that is fine grained enough to be meaningful on a small geographic scale. The privacy of the individual should, of course, be central to all of this.



CBRE’s PropTech Challenge will launch its fourth edition in October 2020, looking for breakthrough technology that can solve challenges the Real Estate sector is facing today, including Tech projects that can be applied to areas such as Smart Cities, Future Mobility, Energy & Sustainability and Design & Build. The Challenge is an example of CBRE’s drive to invest in digital transformation and innovation and represents its firm commitment to source the best talent to offer value-added solutions to both players in the Real Estate sector and society as a whole.