Raw data is like rice, let's turn it into sushi

Raw data is like rice, let's turn it into sushi

I refer to yesterday's letter by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and the Council for Estate Agencies ("Data to help home buyers make informed decisions"), which was in response to my commentary ("How big data can make cooling measures obsolete"; March 17).

Never did I suggest that raw data on property transactions is unavailable to the Government and the public. There's no doubt that Singapore sets the world's standard in open raw data.

My point is that raw data does not equal a transparent pricing mechanism for the property market.

It is like the difference between rice and sushi. Data is like rice. It must be processed and combined with other ingredients to form something meaningful, like sushi.

While free transaction data on the HDB and URA websites is more than most markets offer, it is still rice. The problem with raw data on a website is that it must be processed by users with different levels of expertise, or no expertise at all. Furthermore, even experts can misinterpret or manipulate raw data.

In contrast, SRX Property's X-Value standardises market pricing by applying best-practices methodologies to process raw data from multiple public and private data sources, and instantaneously computes and disseminates a single value for each unit.

We make X-Value accessible for free, across multiple media, mobile, and Internet platforms.

Now, with X-Value, all Singaporeans start from the same page - meaning the property market joins other markets in having a transparent pricing mechanism.

Among many other things, this means an individual can use X-Value as a benchmark for negotiating a property transaction. Or, policymakers don't have to spend valuable time cobbling together raw data from inter-agency databases. Instead, they can focus on stress testing different scenarios using real-time information on every unit, including landed homes, in the market.

In fact, some government agencies already subscribe to the idea that X-Value can make a difference in policymaking. One statutory board promotes X-Value to foreign cities as a way to reduce the risk of a housing bubble, and help turn those cities into "smart" cities.

In today's world of Big Data and versatile mobile technology, we don't have to settle for rice. We can eat sushi.

This article was first published on April 2, 2015.
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