Big data has entered the realm of farm real estate with the announcement agribusiness Ruralco has rolled out a one touch system for automated rural property reports.
Developed by Digital Agriculture Services, a Melbourne based start-up with ties to CSIRO, the Rural Property Hub promises to offer "powerful insights" into agricultural properties, providing client reports on titles, infrastructure, groundwater, production metrics and climate.
Ruralco group manager innovation Ciaran O'Gorman said the automated rural property reports will be a valuable tool for the company, acting as a starting point for the gathering information on properties.
"It's a fact finding tool that allows us to supply the information our customers are looking for when it comes to buying and selling," he said.
"The ability to provide buyers and sellers with this information is very powerful.
"We then have the ability to edit these reports and provide further insights that only our agents with their experience would have."
Mr O'Gormon said the tool would not be used to provide automated property valuations by Ruralco agents.
While the DAS platform harvests data from a range of government and private databases, it does not breach privacy laws as technically the data is not personally identifiable, users would need to compile ownership information from a separate source.
"The data is publicly available information that many of agents would be accessing on numerous platforms but the DAS system is able to bring it all together in one place," said Mr O'Gorman.
"The information is from trusted state and federal sources such as ABARES."
Earlier this year in a media release, the CSIRO said Digital Agriculture Services has secured $4.25 million in funding from its founding equity and R&D partners CSIRO, Ruralco and private investors since its inception in 2017.
Ruralco property agent Matt Childs of Pat Rice Hawkins said DAS is supplying highly relevant agricultural data.
"The introduction of the Ruralco Property Report through the DAS platform into our rural real estate agency has provided our sales staff with an enormous advantage within the industry," he said.
"The data supports our analysis of a property's value and capability and therefore can assist a buyer or seller in making the most appropriate decision within the real estate space."
DAS chief executive officer Anthony Willmott said the biggest technology innovations to hit real estate had all been focused on big city residential or commercial real estate.
"In all real estate transactions data is critical but for rural real estate it's even more critical. Buyers and sellers need to know what a property will yield, what's the productivity, weather, soil, crop type and more."
"Property buyers now expect a deeper level of insight and data and agents want to give it to them, but they have been hindered by a lack of reliable data. We saw an opportunity to empower rural real estate agents to have fact- based conversations with potential buyers and sellers about any rural property to drive confidence and competitive advantage."
A Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into data availability and use, published in 2017, spelled out the benefits of making public data more accessible and digitally open, however it also warned their were risks involved, and proposed better consumer rights when it came to the siphoning of data.
"The legal and policy frameworks under which public and private sector data is collected, stored and used (or traded) in Australia are ad hoc and not contemporary," it said.
"A new Comprehensive Right for consumers would give individuals and small-medium businesses opportunities for active use of their own data and represent fundamental reform to Australia's competition policy in a digital world.
"This right would create for consumers powers comparable to those in the Privacy Act to view, request edits or corrections, and be advised of the trade to third parties of consumer information held on them a new right to have a machine-readable copy of their consumer data provided either to them or directly to a nominated third party, such as a new service provider."
While DAS believe the system uses the most accurate data currently available for the purpose, it notes there may be some inherent limitations in the data.
"Soil type, land use and building recognition are derived using CSIRO science and as result have a probability associated with them," the company said.
"The platform does not currently allow for correction of data entry errors at source, example miss-entry of property sale price."
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