This study examined disruptive digital technologies, investigating their potential for reshaping housing markets and reconfiguring housing policy. It provides housing policy makers and practitioners with a nuanced understanding of how technology is already restructuring housing markets and affecting housing assistance programs, as well as insights into likely future developments.
- The research identified four main fields of technological advancement that are likely to disrupt the housing sector in future, or are already doing so: matching markets; big data; GIS mapping software; and blockchain.
- Technological change presents real opportunities for the housing sector, including more efficient allocation of housing stock, more accurate and transparent property management systems, and better informed planning and development processes.
- At the same time, however, the most advanced technological disruption to date in the housing space—the matching market Airbnb—highlights the ways in which responding to and regulating disruptive technologies presents new challenges for governments and is challenging for governments.
- Key challenges include the protection of privacy, the need to ensure transparency in increasingly complex technological systems, the cost and access risks associated with the commercialisation of significant technological systems, and the potential for disruption in one housing market to cause negative spillover effects in other parts of the housing sector.
- In responding to future technological disruptions, governments need more agile and critical policy making approaches to allow effective short-term responses to digital disruptions, as well as strategies for implementing longer-term cultural change and systems upgrades. The report identifies 10 key principles and strategies as a starting point for developing this new policy making ‘playbook’.
About the research
The emergence of new digital and disruptive technologies has meant that housing policy makers and practitioners now find themselves facing new opportunities and challenges. Governments, non-profit organisations and businesses are all grappling with the complex and fast-moving impacts of technology-enabled change.
This Inquiry examined these disruptive digital technologies, investigating their potential for reshaping housing markets and reconfiguring housing policy. It provides housing policy makers and practitioners with a nuanced understanding of how technology is already restructuring housing markets and affecting housing assistance programs, as well as insights into likely future developments. This has important implications for ensuring that the provision of housing and housing assistance is as efficient and equitable as possible.
The Inquiry responds to current and emerging digital and disruptive technologies by examining the way in which they are reshaping housing markets and assistance, consumer opportunities and service provision. ‘Disruptive technologies’ were defined by Christensen (1997) as innovations that disrupt or redefine performance trajectories and consistently cause the failure of an industry's leading players. Today, the terminology of ‘disruption’ is used more generally to describe situations where technology drives significant changes to existing practices, whether that of an industry, a market or a regulatory structure.
The focus of this final Inquiry report is to identify options for governments to be ready to respond to future disruptions, and proactively embrace technology to develop policies that promote better market outcomes and deliver more efficient and effective housing assistance.