With over 360,000 strata buildings in Australia there is guaranteed to be another strata building which is similar to the one you live in today. If you are a strata committee member you often feel that it takes time and effort to get to the right information that you need to make a decision and some of these decisions are costly if the wrong path is taken. When you don't have the luxury of time or the committee consensus required to hire a consultant, "phoning a friend" on the strata committee of your twin building might be just what you need to get that perspective or assurance you are looking for.
The City of Sydney inspired the project after sponsoring a visit to Sydney's Japanese sister city, Nagoya*. Wattblock has been running strata research projects with university students from 6 different universities over the past 7 years. Sister Strata combines concepts from Sydney University's masters program in Big Data and research into artificial intelligence from UNSW's Marketing AI lab which is then applied to Wattblock's proprietary strata energy database. 23 Wattblock staff and student interns have worked on R&D in the past 12 months with additional user experience input coming from IBM's Watson team.
There are the obvious items which help determine similarity like the dimensions of the building in terms of floors and number of apartments. Then there are the less obvious ones like the equipment which is running inside each of these buildings which varies widely across the population of strata buildings. Where it is possible a match in the local area is always preferable to one which is further away. How do you balance these competing priorities which can lead to finding a Sister building which is a compelling match?
Where online forums such as Owners Corporation Network(OCN) can be useful in finding people who live in strata generally, there hasn't been an algorithmic way to find that strata building which has the most similar characteristics to your strata building until this point. Learnings were captured from earlier big data projects in Australia, such as UBank's PeopleLikeU, which was launched in 2012. PeopleLikeU was acclaimed for its technical capability but didn't create stickiness with customers and was unable to develop a sustainable business model.
Sister Strata is currently a FREE matching service which Wattblock is now trialling with a small set of selected strata committee members. After filling out some details about your building, up to 5 matches are algorithmically selected and emailed to the strata committee member.
The strata committee member can then use Domain's Building Profile, Google streetview and Google maps to visually inspect the building and determine if it is worth pursuing contact further. Following a "handshake process" which determines the level of commitment of both candidate strata buildings to building a relationship, the match can be brokered. Wattblock acts as a referee in the process and won't connect the buildings until they have each proven that they have "skin in the game". Unlike simply friending someone on Facebook or LinkedIN, creating a sister relationship between two strata buildings might take weeks or months as each strata committee approves a relationship where they will share sensitive information.
So far, strata committee members entering the "sisterhood" have expressed interested in sharing and comparing the following with their sister buildings:
* The level set for quarterly levies
* Balance in the capital works/sinking fund/maintenance fund/reserve fund
* Whether the building has a building manager/caretaker or not and whether they are part time or full-time
* Whether the system uses any software systems for building management, energy monitoring or EV charging
*Whether the building has experienced defects and where they are in the defects lifecycle
* Whether the building has AirBnb operating
* Which strata manager they are using
* How many people are on the strata committee and how often they meet
* Which utility providers they are using for electricity or gas
* What are the online resources which they find useful in managing their building
If you would like to join a new circle of vertical villages, then the first step is to register here. View a presentation on Sister Strata here or watch a video on youtube here.
* Sydney's other sister cities are San Francisco, Wellington, Portsmouth, Guangzhou and Florence.
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