Practical technology is becoming the go-to solution for many of the big picture issues we have in strata communities.
We have experienced a significant change in the last 15 years from mostly paper and post-driven communication to electronic notification, processing and filing. Banks now charge to withdraw money at their counter and it is second nature to us to do what used to be someone else’s job – for free by ourselves, in our own time.
Evidently, the world is moving forward with robotics, electronics, machinery and other technological innovations that bring with them opportunities and challenges alike. Just reflecting on the rise of computers and internet as a revolutionary life-changing decade, there are also quite a few companies that have been affected by cyber-crime in the past few years and clearly one must ensure data is kept safe and sound from third-party access. The damage caused by cyber-crime is in the trillions of dollars and as technology gets more sophisticated, the need to keep up with change is undeniable.
Despite these risks of falling victim to the new technologies, every strata business by now understands that we cannot afford to keep doing things the way we have been but should rather embrace the opportunities. The clever use of technology will make our communities run more smoothly, more effectively and safer. SCA (QLD) sees potential in many emerging electronic devices and machines that effectively mitigate safety risks and provide cost efficiencies. The use of drones is the latest development being used to inspect public buildings and high rise residential apartment buildings.
Drones could mean big savings for the strata communities when checking on window safety and structural integrity, storeys above the ground, especially now that over 1.1 million Queenslanders call apartments and units home. The usage is quite sparse at the moment but it is only a matter of time before their cost-effectiveness and increased safety will be overweighing the concerns with their usage.
What are the concerns from a strata industry view? In body corporate land, the biggest concern is for the privacy rights of residents. Standards must be developed to ensure privacy requirements are being met and residents are aware of the use of above street level video recording. From a legislation viewpoint, any visual or audio footage is likely to become a body corporate record that may have implications in future, which we can hardly foresee now. With the right standards and processes in place however, the body corporate can take the right steps to protect themselves from potential legal repercussions. As a consumer advocate, SCA (QLD) is certainly looking to the relevant government authorities to prescribe height restrictions, when and where they can be used, as well as certification standards for operators.
On the flipside, the positive impact on strata communities is that the use of drones eliminates the need for expensive scaffolding or safety harnessing, meaning less money spent on contractors and more savings for owners. They are already being used successfully to provide detailed reports on the issues that concern bodies corporate on a daily basis, ranging from external cracking, storm damage, guttering problems and corrosion.
As the industry body SCA (QLD) is confident the drones will be a valuable tool in the next few years and we are committed to working with the relevant government authorities to get the guidelines and regulation right. After all, who wants to go back to using an abacus for financial reporting on million-dollar properties?