An Insight into catching data

Jonny-Britton-THUMBLand Insight was born out of a combination of frustrations. It all began seven years ago when I was working as a commercial planning consultant and was frustrated with the slow pace of the industry. So, I decided to follow my passion and become a software entrepreneur.

After making the most comprehensive atlas of world history online, reaching 250,000 people a month, I had experienced the highs and lows of start-ups and was keen to solve a problem closer to home.

When introduced to my co-founder – Andrew Moist – I knew straight away that his mission was something I had to be involved in. He was a successful software developer who had decided to do his own self-build. His first port of call was to go to a website to get his land, but this website just didn’t exist. His options were few and restrictive. So, after reading all he could, joining various groups and seemingly getting no further, he set out to change the way self-builders find land.

I knew it was bigger than self-build. The land market is too opaque and this has major consequences – we are in the middle of a housing crisis, the whole industry struggles to find building opportunities, and any land on the market is the object of fierce competition and its price is highly inflated.

We started Land Insight to streamline the process of finding off-market land by providing access to the core data needed to assess the development potential of any site.

Being accepted on the Pi Labs programme was an important part of our story, because it gave us an ecosystem of industry advisers to sharpen the edges of our proposition, raise funding and gain the introductions we needed to get the product to market.

Data-driven development

Cheaper processing technologies have made it possible to extract and analyse huge volumes of data, from unstructured sources
(for us these are planning applications from council websites) to create new datasets.

Alongside this, the Land Registry, Ordnance Survey and Companies House are all making data more available, allowing.

Good data and maps help bring to light relevant sites with development potential by revealing discrepancies in height data, changing planning precedents, or places to add density.

Combining datasets to visualise, cross-reference and filter creates a simple way to see how the wider market is performing and what developments are happening or planned. When you add your own data a new dimension is added to it.

A wide lens view

Data analytics are the nuts and bolts of software development. They let companies see their best-performing marketing channels, find out how their sales funnel is performing and understand the ways that their software’s features are being used. These concepts are rapidly being adopted by forward-thinking property developers.

A development site has masses of data points that can give you a view of its potential. When looking across a wider area, the data attached to individual sites combine to give a richer view of the place as a whole. Over time, as land uses change, prices fluctuate, planning applications emerge or land transactions are made, patterns and trends become visible. Trends are the tailwind of opportunity. The ability to act quickly is a big competitive advantage.

From uses in site finding through to construction – with BIM and “the internet of things” – the waves of data in the property industry are getting bigger.

So, while digital is disruptive to traditional business models in the property industry, its potential to be used to gain an advantage and transform the industry for the better is huge.

Interact with Britton and Moist on Twitter @getlandinsight, and find out more at