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David Cardwell, vice president of capital markets and technology for the National Multi Housing Council, is one of the key players behind the Multifamily Information and Transactions Standard. The initiative was launched in 2002 to develop a common language for real estate related software. Just this month, Cardwell released the latest generation of the MITS Core Data Model. GlobeSt talked to Cardwell about the data standard and its possible future.

GlobeSt: What led to the development of the data standard?

Cardwell: Software firms were engaged in the development and deployment of a range of applications for a variety of business purposes and apartment firms (owners, developers and managers) were looking for the solutions to be more integrated. Also, as the demand for real-time processing grew, the need for standards to move data among solutions became more important. Remember, MITS is in its sixth year and third version.

GlobeSt: Who, if anyone, had asked for it?

Cardwell: This is an industry collaborative that has involved over 150 companies during the past five years. About 75 firms participate in the effort. The standard is open and anyone can have access to the data transfer standards.

GlobeSt: How widely has it been embraced by software developers and theindustry in general?

Cardwell: Most firms that support the industry use some or most of the MITSstandards. As an open standard it is not licensed so there is no true measure of its use, but a partial list of companies that have used the standard include, but are not limited to the following:

Firms that use MITS as a guideline or framework for data transfer and integration systems: AmRent; AMSI/GEAC; ApartmentGuide.com; Apartments.com; Blue Lantern Inc.; allSource; Cedar Financial; Continental Utility Solutions; Diversified Service Ltd.; Energy Billing Systems; Equity Residential; eREI; EveryAptMapped.com; First Advantage/SafeRent; ForRent.com; Hunter Warfield Inc.; Lane Company; Lincoln Property Co., Move.com; Multifamily Technology Solutions; Mwendo LLC; NWP Services Corp.; On-Site.com; PropertyBridge Inc.; REAL ID Inc.; RealPage Inc.; Rent Check Credit Bureau; RentBureau; RentGrow; Resident Data, A Choicepoint Service; Sares Regis Group; Starnik Systems Inc.; US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development; Vaultware and Yardi.

Apartment firms that request technology providers utilize MITS in their application software: AIMCO; American Management Services(Pinnacle); AMLI Residential Properties Trust; Forest City Residential; Lane Co.; McDougal Co.; Sares Regis Group.

Firms that intend to utilize MITS as a guideline: EverGreen Solutions; Home Properties; Intuit Real Estate Solutions; Milestone Management Co.; RentBureau; Sawyer Real Estate; Spherexx.com and United Dominion Realty Trust.

GlobeSt: What about developers based outside the US? Is this standard modeled on a global initiative?

Cardwell: It is consistent with WC3 (the world standards oversight body) but we are not affiliated with any other group.

GlobeSt: How much of an improvement over the original version does this update represent?

Cardwell: This is a new release or version. It incorporates two key features, one that provides a place for parties to include custom or proprietary features while adhering to the broader data transfer standard specifications and the other is an improved set of common data elements that are used in all of the specific data transfer standards.

GlobeSt: What’s next in the evolution of the product?

Cardwell: MITS is an on-going apartment industry technology collaborative, and is what is referred to as a dynamic standard. As such, it will continue to evolve as business process and technology improvements evolve. While in our sixth year, the expectation is we are still a few years from being a mature standard.

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