14 February, 2014
Billion Homes, a worldwide real estate archive, plans to start photographing real estate in the Netherlands and Belgium within three months.
Billion Homes gathers public information about houses and aims to make that information more accessible and transparent through its search engine. The pictures taken by the drones will be used to improve the images on Google Maps and Google Earth, according Kim Koppens of Billion Homes. “These images are not always accurate. We want to create a perfect image of the houses on the website and in our archives.” he says on BNR. Billion Homes will not only photograph houses in the Netherlands and Belgium, but in other countries as well.
Billion Homes says it wants to comply with the Dutch legislation regarding drones and will apply for the necessary permits. Billion Homes says it takes the sensitive topic of drones and privacy into account: “Ultimately, it is about the houses, not about personal data.” There will be a team to check the pictures manually to ensure that there are no persons visible on them.
Real estate owners can request and adjust the information about their houses afterwards. For example, they can report a renovation that influences the price of the real estate. Also, privacy settings can be turned on to remove some of the pictures. However, the houses and the public information thereon will remain on Billion Homes.
It is the question how the public will feel about the plan of Billion Homes, even if it does not involve personal data. After all, a house is a private place where people want to feel secure. If someone sees a drone flying above his house, the fact that Billion Homes acts according to the law might not be his first concern, especially when he is not informed beforehand and does not know whose drone it is. It is unclear how Billion Homes wants to tackle this problem.