When we announced the Spark Platform, I explained how we hoped it would incentivize data standardization:
Importantly, the Spark Platform is as much a process as it is a product. Though both FBS and the participating MLS organizations will be working together to map the existing data to the RESO data standards, the reality is that not all fields will map to the dictionary right away. However, the idea here is to create an ecosystem driven by mutual incentives to create more standardized data over time.
For example, mobile development is the biggest frontier for real estate technology today, and the Spark API is designed specifically to make mobile development easier. As more developers use the API, more standard data will be needed, and the brokers and MLSs in each local MLS will now have a direct incentive to provide that standard data to get new mobile products for their MLS members.
A recent example of this process involved showing instructions and lockbox information. In gathering user input about the most important fields agents need to see on a mobile device, showing instructions and lockbox info came up at the top of the suggestion list. The problem is that our customers track showing instructions and lockbox information in a wide variety of ways, making it hard to implement the data into a standard user interface across all of our 120+ MLS customers.
To address this problem in anticipation of the recent release of Flexmls for iPhone, we asked our MLS customers participating in our Summit last February to map their showing and lock box fields to the RESO dictionary standard for those fields. We then took those mappings and entered them into the Spark Data Mapper so they could be made available through the Spark API in a standard way.
With the data mapped to the standard fields, we were able to program Flexmls for iPhone to show the showing instructions conveniently from the “view” or “eye” icon on the action bar, which we’ve designed to appear on the list, gallery, and detail views so agents can get at the showing instructions conveniently and consistently.
This a simple example of how I see data standards being implemented over time based upon real-world use cases that deliver value immediately to end users.