A drone the size of one’s palm buzzes 50 metres up a skyscraper in downtown Singapore. Tracing the contours of the building, the machine scans for cracks and records the temperature of the building’s façade as it makes its ascent.

Sitting in a room 5 kilometres away, a man sees a live feed from the drone’s camera on his desktop screen. He analyses the data and combines it with information collected from hundreds of other buildings.

Welcome to proptech 3.0 – the convergence of property and technology – where autonomous drones, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) come together to transform the property sector.

I’ve been in real estate my entire career – and it is clear to me that much is changing, and changing fast. For instance, instead of sending property managers out to buildings to manually inspect them and log the findings, the job can now be done by smart robots capable of carrying out each task with lightning precision.

People can then focus on higher order tasks instead. They analyse the data, pre-empting any maintenance requirements and planning ahead, saving millions of dollars in cost for their organisations.

Such scenes will only become more common as cities start embracing this new real estate-focused technology. In Asia, investment in proptech research and development has been on the rise. But the industry is still just scratching the surface of what digital solutions have to offer.

The first proptech wave, or proptech 1.0, crystallised in 2007 in the form of start-ups such as Singapore’s PropertyGuru, which provided online listing sites for residential property.

The second wave of proptech arrived in 2013 as the initial players started to compete harder, and developed capabilities such as data analytics and virtual…

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