Monday, January 31, 2005

Data Mining the "Real World"

In October last year the UK's Environment Agency put its flood data online. At the time I was in the process of buying a house, and I was very interested to find out that I could get my hands on this data so easily.

Today the BBC is reporting that the Land Registry has put the register of properties online so that you can obtain excerpts from the register and title plan information for any property (in England and Wales) for just £2. Although this data has always been publically available, in the past its been a lot more difficult to obtain.

Okay, so me talking about mobile location dependant searches is probably getting old, but couple this data with that from the Environment Agency. Add in data from your own GPS fix and associated maps, drive-by data similar to that generated for the A9 yellow pages, and perhaps data harvested via Bluetooth from nearby devices via some sort of peer-to-peer mechanism, and augmented reality is just a wearable computer and some decent software away. You can probably tell I find all this stuff really interesting?

This is, as far as I'm concerned, the next leap forward for computing. Desktop systems will always be with us, but integrating the extra information that is now readily available into our daily lives going to bring major changes to the way we live. Of course, like most people, I'm going to wait until they make a moderately fashionable pair of HUD glasses.

Another an interesting question, at least for those of us in the UK, is what this means for solicitors and the conveyancing process? The data I obtained, for free, from the Environment Agency was exactly the same as that obtained for me by my solicitors. However, my solicitors charged me for the data, the Environment Agency did not. One of the major costs when buying a house in the UK is down to these types of searches. It'll be interesting to see how solicitors can continue to justify charging for searches when the information, which used to be hard to obtain, becomes more easily available online.