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Everyone that works in the real estate industry has an active role to play in the creation, adoption and proliferation of the RESO Data Dictionary. It’s not just a description of terms for listings and the parts of a home. The dictionary delves into contact information, open houses, IDs, showings, rentals, green building initiatives, tracking Internet-based activity and so much more.

Knowing where we are today with the Data Dictionary and other RESO products is key to continued growth and adoption. As an industry, we are getting there, but we have more work to do.

In a talk at the RESO 2022 Fall Conference titled “Data Dictionary’s Dramatic Effect on Your Business,” Al McElmon, Senior Leader, Software & Data Engineering at CoreLogic, asked a series of questions aimed at the Data Dictionary and other related RESO products through the use of an interactive polling tool. | WATCH VIDEO (14:41)

Not only was it a fun way to add interaction to a topic that is regularly covered at RESO meetings, but it evoked some interesting and surprising responses right from the first question.

The camaraderie around RESO conference attendees can make it feel like it’s mostly veterans of the cause, so this was a nice reminder that the Data Dictionary is always reaching new audiences. Sharing the importance of the evolution of the Data Dictionary to newcomers should be an ongoing effort.

Other questions that McElmon posed to the audience included:

  • What are the most important innovations to come from our efforts in RESO?
  • What are the top benefits of the Web API?
  • What are the biggest weaknesses of the Data Dictionary?
  • How are you helping the Data Dictionary grow?
  • What’s holding you back from adopting the Data Dictionary?

After the pleasant opening surprise of first-time conference attendance, McElmon talked about the problems already solved and the possibilities yet explored.

Attendees considered the top RESO innovations to be the Data Dictionary and the RESO Web API. These two standards are closely tied in that RESO certifies the API-driven data transport of Data Dictionary fields and lookups (though opportunities for API-agnostic certification endorsements in RESO Common Format are right around the corner).

Speed, efficiency, ease of implementation, interoperability and uniformity were all considered top benefits of the RESO Web API. Much of this is due to Data Dictionary compliance, allowing customers to move from vendor to vendor without having to remap datasets or re-envision schemas.

Some of the biggest weaknesses of the Data Dictionary were listed as:

  • Custom local fields
  • Slow adoption
  • Not enough standardized lookups
  • Slow version updates
  • Not enough coverage

McElmon firmly stated that he does not see custom local fields as a true weakness, because the Data Dictionary has the capacity to add custom fields. “There are lots of vendors who have done this. If they have a field that they want to be standardized across one or two or ten different vendors, you just add it,” he said.

Continued McElmon, “As long as you’re not violating the semantic meaning of a field, there’s no reason why you can’t continue to add whatever custom fields you want to the Data Dictionary schema.”

He conceded that there are still a lot of vendors that have not fully embraced the Data Dictionary, with many non-certified RETS feeds still in place. But the list of dictionary-unaware technology companies is consistently shrinking.

In terms of helping the Data Dictionary grow, many attendees shared that they attend Data Dictionary Workgroup calls, submit new field additions or have fully adopted the Data Dictionary. In fact, the majority of attendees said that they were fully adopted.

Added McElmon, “I would say, at this point, there’s no reason not to.”

The main things affecting holdouts were stated to be time, money and availability of standardized data.

Some people expressed that upgrading to Data Dictionary 2.0 will be difficult, as it is a major change and improvement in field and lookup validation. McElmon assured that if you architect your systems to be able to handle changes, it is worthwhile work.

McElmon suggested that downstream consumers should stay in touch with the Data Dictionary Workgroup and let them know that they are working with values that should be added. Engagement means an easier transition for data consumers and their customers.

According to McElmon, there is magic in the words and phrasing of the Data Dictionary. Much like an image generator built on artificial intelligence, random bytes of text are fed into a machine, and it interprets that and enforces uniformity.

“The more succinct and the more uniform that we can be across the industry, I think the better results you’re going to end up coming up with out of all this,” he said.

The quest for consistency continues to drive a uniform format which, in turn, helps efforts like RESO’s Universal Property Identifier (UPI).

McElmon concluded, “Get involved in the industry, get involved with your consumers and make sure that everyone is marching toward the same goal of unified data access.”

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