KSK Land delving into AI and data
By Dzof Azmi October 22, 2021
- Designing properties using generative design & artificial intelligence
- Emphasis on using data to focus on what its customers really want
"We don't typically like to think as a traditional property developer. I don't even want to use the word 'property developer' anymore!"
So says Joanne Kua, CEO of Malaysian property developer, KSK Group and Managing Director of KSK Land. Their recent announcement is that KSK Land has invested in Delve, a software that creates better neighbourhoods by using generative design and artificial intelligence. But Kua wants to focus on what she calls the "customer lens".
"(For) typical developers, we don't talk about customer journeys," she notes. "Every time when we think about design development... it feels like we're developing the same product," she adds, candidly.
Whereas before, developers would look at placemaking concepts, and then move towards construction, Kua says there is a recognition now that developers need to go beyond that and use the latest technologies to improve customer experiences.
"When you start having conversations with the architect, what you want to build, how you want to build it - there is some form of data," explains Kua. "Sometimes not all data is owned by us, especially in property development."
She points to elements like walkability, sunlight hours, or the views you get from different units. "With Delve, because the data is live, because we can use AI, these variables are (available) up front, even during the massing part of the design and development." (Massing is what architects refer to when they are working out the shape of a building in 3D.)
"It doesn't mean that we get it right the first time. But it allows you to now have deeper conversations with your architects, your landscape architects, your interior designers," she says. "But if you don't have the data available, that conversation is non-existent."
Creating better neighbourhoods, faster
Delve is produced by Sidewalk Labs, a New York-based "urban innovation" company that was founded in 2015, and is working on projects in Miami, Las Vegas, Portland, San Francisco - and now, Kuala Lumpur.
"Delve is a software product that uses generative design and AI to help developers create better neighbourhoods faster, with less risk," explains Okalo Ikhena, Co-Head of Delve at Sidewalk Labs in an email reply to DNA.
KSK Land hopes that Delve will help power the development of KSK Land's own data-driven Al pricing engine by KSK City Labs, the data and tech arm of KSK Land. They hope to be able to customise pricing for each unit based on characteristics, like sunlight exposure hours.
Going forward, KSK Land intends for Delve to help develop designs that prioritise sustainability and wellness elements. For example, the software can help identify designs that will improve energy efficiency by optimising sunlight exposure or by enhancing walkability in the neighbourhood to lower reliance on cars. The hope is that this can result in sustainable developments that are in line with Malaysia's Low Carbon Cities Framework.
Okalo points out that the software is designed to help human planners, instead of supplanting them. "While Delve does remove some of the "human" labour from planning a project, it can’t replace the work an architect, developer, or urban planner does," he continues. "These experts have the knowledge needed to assess the options Delve generates and determine the one that’s right for the team."
Kua concurs, adding, "It's not always about all data, it's about the right set of data. So developers start to understand what the customers really want."
Be ready to embrace data
Kua has some pieces of advice for developers who are thinking of incorporating technology to improve their design process.
"Number one, the team needs to be ready - it's about a mindset (to embrace data in order to do design)," she begins. "If you repulse it, you're never gonna use a data model."
The second point she makes is to incorporate the customer's point of view. "Because then you'll be ready to use some of these (new) variables."
And thirdly, make sure to include the rest of your design team. “Your architects, your landscape architects, and your external designers," she concludes. She points out that right now most members work in silos, but if you can get them into the conversation early, it will help everyone understand what the data is saying.
"I'd like to think that we're like a first mover in the market. But fast forward, I would even say 10 years, maybe (even) five years in the future, a lot of people will start thinking about this space," she believes.
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