The standards effort under way in the real
estate industry is following a good path to widespread implementation. The
people leading the effort realize that, for standards to get traction, everyone
needs to help each other. You don't wait for some player to go first. You don't
insist everyone moves together. What you do is organize the community so that
any and every action taken by a player has benefits. Here's how a platform vendor puts it:
“One of the obstacles historically to implementing data standards was the lack of immediate incentive. Most everyone understands the long-term incentive for more standardized data (lower cost and increased interoperability of software), but those benefits are so long-term that they make action today difficult. The Spark Platform attempts to address this challenge by creating an economic ecosystem that encourages MLSs [Multiple Listing Services], brokers and developers to work together to promote more data standards.
As FBS [the vendor] brings in data from participating MLSs, the data
will be mapped into the RESO [Real Estate Standards Organization] standard
fields using a Data Field Mapper. This software will help both FBS
and each MLS work together to continually add more standard fields as they are
needed by new applications being created by developers.”
Of course, the coordinating role being
played here by FBS can be undertaken by other bodies as well, including non-profits.
The key is the mapping.
Some purists see mapping as a kind of
second-best solution. In an ideal world, everyone would use standards in the
native state. There would be no need for translation, no need for hubs –
whether physical or logical. But take a look around. Mapping is part of
how the world works. Human beings speak lots of languages. They use lots of
currencies. They have lots of different ideas. And yet they can trade,
collaborate, and share.
Sure, if you're starting from a blank sheet, you want to adopt existing standards immediately. That's the quickest, cheapest, and most comprehensive way of getting into business. If you already have some information systems under your belt, then use standards with your new developments, and use standards to mediate between your old systems and partner systems. That way you're getting ecosystem benefits as well as cutting costs.
ACORD is in the process of mapping Standards to the Informaion Model and we are focusing on traceability so we can improve how we develop and maintain Standards. We have a number of Standards to support and all have versions. Maping has a role.