Is MLS destined for the cloud?

Dec 14, 2008  |  Michael Wurzer

Writing in Read/Write Web, Paul Miller, quoting himself, says:

“Just as ‘we’ used to duplicate and under-utilize computational resources, so we do something very similar with our data. We expensively enter and re-enter the same facts, over and over again. We over-engineer data capture forms and schemas, making collection exorbitantly expensive, whilst often appearing to do all we can to limit opportunities for re-use. Under the all-too-easy banners of ‘security’ and ‘privacy’ we secure individual data stores and fail to exploit connections with other sources, whether inside or outside the enterprise.”

Sound familiar?  Mr. Miller continues:

“In a small way, the efforts of the Linked Data Project‘s enthusiasts have demonstrated how different things should be. The cloud of contributing data sets grows from month to month, and the number of double-headed arrows denoting a two-way linkage is on the rise. Even the one-way relationships that currently dominate the diagram are a marked improvement on ‘business as usual’ elsewhere on the data web; even in these cases, data from a third party is being re-used (by means of a link across the web) rather than replicated or re-invented. Costs fall. Opportunities open up. Both resources, potentially, improve. The strands of the web grow stronger.”

It is here, in the use and reuse of data, that the potential of the cloud will be realized.

Two applications to MLS: (1) we should be creating a linking mechanism with universal property IDs (URIs); and (2) MLS is one potential home for identity management for real estate professionals.  The last likely is controversial but has strong potential benefits for single sign-on and other authentication and identification needs on the web if open standards are followed.

How much value could be created by the Real Estate Standards Organization if it were able to implement and gain adoption on universal property IDs?  Forget, for a moment, defining broad and deep data standards, and, instead, focus on one thing — establishing a method to link together all information relating to real property.  This one change would bring about the benefits extolled by Mr. Miller, which bear repeating:

“Costs fall. Opportunities open up. Both resources, potentially, improve. The strands of the web grow stronger. . . .  It is here, in the use and reuse of data, that the potential of the cloud will be realized.

3 Responses to “Is MLS destined for the cloud?”

  1. Mike,
    I agree that this would be a worthy endeavor, to agree upon a universal property ID. You are in an excellent position to suggest an approach. Your thoughts? Kevin

  2. Kevin, it almost doesn’t matter what the approach is, what matters is that it gets used widely. Something along the lines of http://universalrealpropertyid.org/country/region/locality/%5Bparcelid-unitid%5D, might work. Of course, I just made up universalrealpropertyid.org and something like urpid.org might be better, but the idea would be to have an ICANN like process to assign and approve IDs and it could leverage current political boundaries of country/state/county in the US and other regional and local entities elsewhere along with the local parcel ID, possibly (though assigning a new unique number that perhaps cross-references the existing parcel number would probably be better). I also understand that PRIA has been working on a system based on how the Department of Defense tracks the property they own worldwide, which you can see here (PDF). So, there are different approaches, it isn’t really complex, but it requires broad adoption to be effective.

  3. Michael,

    I am launching a new web service which aggregates different types of data as well as listing capabilities. Wanted to know if you would be interested in a free Pre-Launch preview (in about 2 weeks) and get your thoughts.

    Jonathan