While a recent wave of residential building collapses has homeowners reeling, Israeli start-ups are already creating the tools that will help prevent future disasters, said Amalia Paz, co-founder of the Bricks Proptech Innovation Center in Tel Aviv.
Last month, a residential building in Holon collapsed after 16 families were evacuated only a day earlier. That created a sense of panic that has led to the emergency evacuation of several other buildings, including one in Ra’anana that was demolished Monday evening in order to prevent its imminent collapse.
The Ra’anana building was already undergoing renovations to strengthen its foundations, but the digging around the building destabilized it and caused it to tip.
The collapse this summer of a beachfront condominium in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, also caused many to raise an alarm.
“This wave of evacuations is something very serious, and it will force municipalities, regulators, insurance companies, banks and tenants to change the way they work,” Paz said. “Cities have been slow to approve urban renewal projects like pinui-binui and Tama 38 plans because they add to the burdens of urban planning, but now there will be pressure on them to work faster.”
Bricks was founded in 2020 to encourage innovation in the proptech sector.
“We define proptech as innovation connected to any part of the real-estate industry, including construction, building management, even renewable energy when it is related to building,” Paz clarified.
The real-estate industry is one of the last industries in the world to open up to new technology innovations, but, in the past two years or so, the Israeli proptech sector has been flourishing, with some 150-200 start-ups and counting, Paz said.
“As the risk of building collapses becomes more understood, we will see more companies stepping into this space,” she added.”
Paz listed a number of Israeli companies currently working to prevent future building collapses.
Dynamic Infrastructure is a company that uses artificial intelligence to analyze data from photos, along with other digital tools to maintain infrastructure installations such as bridges, dams and tunnels, and provide alerts about cracks and structural defects that could cause disasters.
“After the collapse in Holon, I spoke with the company’s founder, and he said the technology can very easily be adapted for use in buildings, analyzing photos taken by tenants,” Paz said. “The company is not currently prepared to take sales calls from individual customers, but it is looking to connect with municipalities that could use it to easily inspect multiple buildings from a list.”
Next, Greenvibe is a start-up that developed smart sensors for measuring and monitoring the strength of concrete poured in new projects. Implanted in the concrete during construction, these sensors check and verify the quality of the concrete, measuring parameters such as strength, humidity, corrosion and temperature, sending alerts “from day one and 100 years onward.” This company is still early in the start-up life-cycle.
Third, Get Status is an application for managing urban-renewal projects like pinui-binui, enabling friendly and transparent sharing between the contractor and the tenants.
“So, for example, in projects with hundreds of apartments, even an old woman with no computer skills will be able to easily get updates on the project and understand what is happening with building plans. This app is already in use in more than 1,000 projects in Israel with more than 100,000 tenants,” Paz said.
The construction company usually pays for the app, although in buildings that are just beginning discussions about a potential renovation, the app can be set up for free to help tenants start the process.
“There will be more start-ups like these in the coming months,” Paz predicted. “New challenges lead to new ways of thinking, which will lead to new technologies to face the challenges.”