This information is typically not stored in a database but instead a free-format Word or a PDF document. It’s very difficult to do a meaningful analysis.
Those are two options and in discussing this with many companies, what we’ve really determined is the best option for extracting more data would be to automate the inspection process. Here I have a diagram to explain how that can be done and how this can be done in a cost-effective manner. One, the primary introduction you’ll notice in this screen, instead of the paper forms we introduce a PDA device. As you know today they connect wirelessly at any point the inspector is in their travels. Second, they’re able to maintain databases on the device so they can collect information not in a pre-text format, but as specific attributes you need for your underwriting decision making. Finally, they can also include photographs and videos and geo-reference all this information to the address or geocode of the building.
Now you may ask, this seems to be adding some cost, where are the benefits or where are we going to cut costs in this scenario? The first cut cost is obvious. They no longer have the double data entry where they first report on paper and then later have to report it when they get back in the office. But the second time-saving step companies are realizing is that the underwriters can directly query this information and it can be directly fed into your cat modeling and pricing system. There’s a lot of time and cost savings there and what that allows inspectors to do is collect more information when they’re onsite and more of these detailed characteristics that truly influence catastrophe loss.
What I’m going to do in the remainder of the presentation is rather than leaving this at a conceptual level, I’m going to talk about specific technology that we developed at Karen Clark & Company which is called Risk Rover that companies are using in the field to collect this information. Hopefully by walking through some screen shots and discussing the basics of the technology you’ll have a better feel on how this could be implemented at your company.
First I want to point out that it’s a very small hand-held device and in fact after talking to some companies we’ve made the decision to go with the smaller PDAs instead of the tablets. These are much more compact and easier for the inspectors to carry and quite honestly they can collect the same level of information as we’ll see in a moment.
Secondly we built the technology on Windows mobile operating system so it could be deployed on a variety of devices. Currently we have one preferred device that we’re offering companies. One primary concern a lot of carriers have discussed with us is security and that’s one of the primary aspects of this technology that are important to discuss. So, the device itself is always password protected. We have the ability to wipe the data if the device were to be lost and all of the transmissions back and forth to your hosting location are encrypted.
Now one of the benefits of mobile devices is they include a GPS device directly imbedded within the application. And today we’ve seen a lot of companies are employing GPS devices in their inspection process but again it’s detached. They have a hand-held GPS device. They hand write the information and later they prepare it as a text report.
Obviously a much more efficient way to do this and this is available on many devices today, is to have the geocode capability built directly into your application. Here on these two screen shots I’m really demonstrating that you have the ability to collect both the address and the geocode directly at the site. One additional thing is the application’s serves maps directly back to the inspector while they’re in the field. Obviously this is of a lot of value back in the office but while you’re out in the field this gives the inspector the opportunity to confirm the accuracy of those geocodes. This address and geo information becomes the foundation of your spatial information so you want to make sure it’s right. The best place to do that is in the field, on the site, while you’re there. This is how we allow the inspectors to do that.
The application also allows you to capture both photos and videos. And we’ve often found that this is what the underwriters find are these are most valuable. You’re supposed to collect all the individual attributes but if you want in a snapshot an instant good view of the risk, nothing is better than a photo or a walk-through video of the attributes that you’re interested to learn about. Both of these capabilities are available in Risk Rover.
A real key to this format is not to collect the data in pre-format text but instead to capture it as individual attributes that you’ll later be able to extract out into your catastrophe models and pricing applications. This is this area we’ve spent a lot of time with individual carriers. Not everyone wants to collect the same information. Everyone has reasons to believe what is a good risk and what is a bad risk and that’s really the flexibility that we offer. Not only do we work with each company to make sure we’re requesting the right attributes but we also work with the companies to design the flow of how this information is collected. We want to make the inspections as easy as possible, so the first step in any deployment of Risk Rover is field trials. What we try to do is best match the device and the data that’s collected to the order and preference of individual inspectors and how they’ll get that information on site.
The final thing which is not visible on these screen shots but what we found that many carriers are interested in, is flexibility. After you invest in some technology, you always learn over time. Perhaps you discover another attribute you would have wanted to collect. We’ve specifically built in
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