Boosting Innovation In The Built Environment Sector
GuocoLand is working with local tech start-ups to develop groundbreaking digital solutions.
With its labour-intensive processes, Singapore’s built environment sector was hard hit by the closure of borders due to the pandemic. On the flipside, the crisis forced many firms to adopt digital solutions more aggressively to overcome these manpower shortages.
One industry player that is supporting innovation in the sector is property group GuocoLand, which announced a series of strategic partnerships with local tech firms to accelerate its digitalisation efforts last year.
“Disrupted supply chains and operational restrictions brought about by the pandemic has accelerated the need to adopt digital solutions in the built environment sector to ensure that resources and energy are optimised,” said Ms Jane Ong, who leads the Digitalisation Committee at GuocoLand in an interview with BiZQ.
“As a result, many industry players in the value chain recognise the need to double down on their digitisation efforts to meet demands, overcome industrial bottlenecks, boost productivity and efficiency, and alleviate labour constraints.”
A digitalised built environment sector will also benefit the entire ecosystem – encompassing consultants, contractors, buyers, and eventually, property owners and users – as it will facilitate the development of innovative and future-proof buildings.
With support from Enterprise Singapore, GuocoLand plans to launch more than 20 digital projects in collaboration with various local start-ups and SMEs. These tie-ups aim to strengthen the group’s property investments and development businesses.
“We wanted to push boundaries in innovation and excellence through these strategic partnerships to create value in our developments. While COVID-19 presented us with unique challenges, it also opened doors to new opportunities to innovate and transform traditional ways of doing things,” said Ms Ong.
She noted that embracing digital technology will result in cost and productivity benefits and make the company more resilient and future-ready. In addition, technology can bring about health and safety benefits, and enhance building performance.
The strategic partnerships also aim to strengthen the local tech start-up ecosystem by providing home-grown companies with more opportunities to develop innovative and sustainable solutions.
“We hope our partnerships will create a hotbed of fresh ideas and technologies that will benefit the industry and better develop talent, creating a more vibrant business community in Singapore,” said Ms Ong.
Already, GuocoLand’s integrated developments employ many cutting-edge technologies, including state-of-the-art heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, cleaning robots, contactless turnstiles and lifts, as well as indoor air quality sensors.
Piloting new solutions
GuocoLand’s partnerships with local technology companies allow these start-ups to operate their pilot programmes and technology at buildings and other physical assets in the real estate sector[EC1] , and explore various methods to scale up their technology.
Some of GuocoLand’s partnership projects include:
GuocoLand’s partnership with Operva AI in façade inspection deploys their pilot drone technology to identify potential leaks or defects in our residential developments. Using infrared thermography and AI capabilities, this digital solution allows the company to conduct detailed checks in a more timely and cost-effective manner.
It is also a more sustainable way to conduct facade checks compared with the traditional water test. GuocoLand recently completed an Operva AI drone inspection for the façade of one of its residential developments.
GuocoLand’s pilot test with Airsquire’s AirGo Virtual solution is currently implemented at Midtown Modern’s construction site on Tan Quee Lan Street. The solution provides project teams with analytical insights for virtual site inspections to improve site productivity and quality, while providing an environment for Airsquire to enhance and expand on their solution.
Airsquire’s technology automates progress reporting, expedites inspections, logs the progress with time stamps, and enables project managers to monitor the progress off-site easily. As a result, GuocoLand has been able to reduce the number of staff at the site as manual progress reporting is no longer required.
GuocoLand’s collaboration with Doxa Connex provides the fintech start-up a platform to apply a pilot procurement ecosystem in real estate. The developer has made substantial progress with Doxa Connex’s “Doxa Connex for Developers”, an end-to-end digital workflow solution to streamline procurement and payments workflow processes. The solution is now at the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) stage of software development for GuocoLand’s freehold residential development, Meyer Mansion.
The road ahead
Going forward, GuocoLand sees more opportunities to digitalise its building facilities and management services to yield greater productivity and ease manpower shortages. For instance, the group is commencing an energy and carbon reduction exercise this year using digital solutions.
The group’s digitalisation efforts also go beyond construction and facilities management. For instance, it has strengthened the safe and efficient management of its properties through the implementation of CCTV video analytics at Guoco Tower, utilising scientific algorithms to identify suspicious or unwanted behaviour.
“We hope to see GuocoLand’s digitalisation drive create a digital ecosystem that provides a seamless end-to-end journey for building processes, boosting the need for technology companies to collaborate and develop dynamic and integrated innovations,” said Ms Ong.
She added: “The transformation of Singapore’s built environment sector requires all organisations in the ecosystem to play their part. GuocoLand’s digitalisation drive aims to impact and uplift the entire value chain of the built environment sector, from design, procurement and contracts, construction methodology, site management and quality surveillance, to facility management. “