How business intelligence can make housing more affordable

Housing

Written by Ravid Shmoueli, VP IT, CIO/CDO, Israel Land Authority

Israel is currently suffering from a severe housing crisis–and it’s largely avoidable.  The scarcity of land with zoning plans, clear ownership and appropriate infrastructure has led to a shortage of land made available for building housing units.

Currently in Israel, it takes an average of 13-15 years to complete a housing project from the start of planning till keys are handed over to the homeowners. In the rest of the modern world, that process takes 2-8 years. Layers of bureaucracy are driving housing prices up, putting housing out of the reach of young couples.

The Israel Land Authority has turned to using a groundbreaking business intelligence platform to re-engineer the cumbersome process of bringing land to market. Our solution is called Ramitech-MEMAD, and it aims to boost housebuilding by integrating data from all stakeholders into a single technological solution. Our solution allows all stakeholders to see the housing supply pipeline in full, enabling them to shorten this process.

We recognized that the key problem is the sheer number of decision makers in the development value chain – from planning agencies, ministries of infrastructure and to builders – and the complexity of their relationships.

Israel’s case is additionally complicated because 93% of the land is owned by the state or the Jewish National Fund and only leased to end-users. The Israel Land Authority must find, negotiate and reimburse lessees for land previously let before this land can be put on the market for housing. It then takes responsibility for infrastructure and prepares public tenders which contractors can bid on.

Ramitech-MEMAD creates an end-to-end master view of all the processes governing all housing activities, putting all relevant actors on the same page to help them collaborate and map out an accelerated way forward. The system enables decision makers to see the big picture and with a few mouse-clicks go from a bird’s eye view all the way down to the smallest marketing units. An advanced GIS system is integrated at all level of detail, allowing decision makers to go from identifying problematic regions to zooming down and examining a specific plan in relation to surrounding infrastructure.

The system cross-cuts masses of data, pointing to areas best capable of supporting large-scale development. It points out infrastructural obstacles such as inadequate sewage systems or inadequate transportation solutions which inhibit development at several sites at once. Whereas architects and planners can make intelligent estimates, Ramitech-MEMAD gives data-driven assessments, which give ministries clear-cut answers about what they need to change to unblock development.

The Ramitech-MEMAD project is already in use at the National Housing Commission and its relevant partners. It is hosted in the cloud, in order to reach all relevant actors without exposing sensitive government networks to cyberattacks.

Last year, the system won the national IT award.

As a smart system, RAMITECH is constantly improving, and is already substantially more advanced than in its beta version. There is no doubt we’ve already seen big improvements in the efficiency of the planning process. Israel has taken a giant step forwards to bringing housing development in line with the rest of the western world–and we’re still improving.

 

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