Our Evolution from BuildingBlocks to the Tolemi Platform: From data to insights
When we first launched BuildingBlocks, we were focused on getting data out of closed, legacy systems and into a centralized web application. Our goal was to give municipal staff a single place to look for any property or case record, and we aimed to stay true to how those data were kept in source systems. But we soon realized that we could do more for our users by taking the next step, giving them the insights they needed to make data-driven decisions.
This means combining multiple data sources to determine things like owner occupancy and vacancy. So while our users can just check a box to filter all unregistered rental properties in a neighborhood, on the back-end we had to develop the capability to combine multiple data sources and use complex logic to make these determinations. Our software compares the owner mailing address with the physical address, references homestead tax exemptions, verifies current use codes for residential dwellings, and references the rental registration database for lapsed or unregistered properties. And we do this across tens—or hundreds—of thousands of parcels in every city we work with, integrating new data every day to keep the filter logic current.
This means cross-referencing event data within given time periods to identify properties that have potential compliance issues. So when a user filters for fix-and-flip properties with no permit, BuildingBlocks is running a sophisticated search for properties that sold twice in an 18-month period with more than 20% appreciation in the selling price and no permit pulled during that window.
This also means applying more advanced data modeling to help local governments prioritize properties for proactive code enforcement, fire inspections, and eviction & foreclosure prevention. When our users drag a slider to find likely vacant structures, our software is combing through records on tax delinquency, pre-foreclosure filings, police calls for service referencing squatters, utility shut-offs, and more to assign a score to every property in the city. When our users toggle an eviction risk score, our platform references court filings, property managers, ownership, neighborhood data on housing trends, and more to identify properties with tenants or owners at high risk of displacement.
These capabilities weren’t easy to build out. They required us to develop a user-friendly interface that makes finding and understanding insights as intuitive as possible. Over time, we learned what off-the-shelf insights we could offer across our entire customer base. And we still needed to give our more advanced users the ability to explore and analyze the mountain of data that we integrate into BuildingBlocks.
At the same time, we had to develop data management tools that would allow our Engineers to set up BuildingBlocks to the exacting requirements of each of our local government partners. And the journey to build those tools represents the next phase of our evolution, from integration to curation.