Introduction to VaaS
The patented valuation engine of the world’s largest and most sophisticated mass appraisal jurisdiction.
Valuation as a Service – VaaS – is the analytical valuation engine for the world’s largest and most sophisticated mass appraisal jurisdiction, Ontario, Canada. Developed and refined by MPAC over a period of 5 years and at a cost of several million dollars, VaaS is a high-speed, flexible analytical engine designed for the property assessment and valuation domain. Delivered as a 100% cloud-based, Open Source offering running on Amazon Web Services, this patent protected and exceptionally disruptive valuation technology eliminates the need for local hardware and expensive software licenses which may cost jurisdictions millions of dollars and many months on a critical path timeline. Here, we provide an overview of VaaS including its story of creation. For more information about the sheer power and versatility of VaaS, see Features and Benefits.
The Story of VaaS
In August 2017, Axilogic authored Transforming Property Assessment, a whitepaper that shows how Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) and their aggressive Roll by 2015 campaign revolutionized North America’s largest property assessment jurisdiction and International valuation practice.
In 2012, after their four-year assessment update, MPAC was challenged to do more with less as part of the Ontario Government’s Drummond Commission, established to examine the ways government delivers services to people, focusing on eliminating or redesigning programs that no longer serve their intended purposes, eliminating areas of duplication and providing greater return for taxpayer dollars. Guided by the recommendations found in the Drummond Commission report as well as others (e.g., Ontario Ombudsman’s Report, Auditor General’s Report), in 2013 MPAC launched their four-year 2013-2016 Strategic Plan, which encompassed eight key outcomes and the bold idea of preparing values on all of Ontario’s 5 million-plus properties by December 2015, fully one year prior to their statutory assessment update due date in December 2016.
In contrast to previous assessments where property values and assessment rolls were published in a “just-in-time” fashion at their due date every four years, MPAC leadership believed it could achieve substantial quality improvement, stakeholder satisfaction and workload normalization gains if it could generate values one year early. Branded internally as the Roll by 2015 project, MPAC’s goal was to utilize that 12-month period to perform expanded quality assurance measures and take the time necessary to properly socialize taxpayers, municipalities and other stakeholders to both the new values established by MPAC, and as important, how they were derived. To the extent that MPAC could produce the best, most quality assured and transparent roll possible, time consuming and expensive appeals and requests for reconsideration would be reduced and MPAC would operate more efficiently after the roll was published in 2016.
The Transforming Property Assessment whitepaper describes in detail how MPAC set upon the Roll by 2015 campaign through the establishment of aggressive and compelling goals and three key guiding principles for technological and business process transformation. Further, the whitepaper discusses the birth of MPAC’s disruptive Valuation as a Service (VaaS) ecosystem, and the significant outcomes demonstrated as a result of employing VaaS in the areas of valuation equity, quality, staff performance improvement, IT savings costs and more. The whitepaper concludes with a description of two case studies demonstrating the external application of VaaS, and the way in which Axilogic and MPAC are leveraging the VaaS ecosystem to transform property valuation around the world.
We encourage you to download Axilogic Whitepaper No1 to learn more.
In the 2013-2016 timeframe, MPAC embarked upon a comprehensive strategic plan which included the bold idea of preparing values on all of Ontario’s 5 million-plus properties by December 31, 2015, fully one year prior to their statutory assessment update due date in December 2016. By preparing values early, MPAC could perform expanded quality assurance measures and take the time necessary to properly socialize taxpayers, municipalities and other stakeholders to the new values established by MPAC.
To achieve this goal, MPAC believed that the very nature of the valuation process had to be significantly transformed, and not simply tweaked. Despite being North America’s largest assessment jurisdiction, in 2013 MPAC did not have a single, centralized system responsible for assessing all properties. A plethora of legacy applications and custom software systems were used for different valuation approaches and different property classes, leading to poor consistency in valuation practice, low valuation traceability and excessive technology licensing costs, among other challenges.
To achieve its modernization objectives, MPAC undertook a massive re-development effort of its valuation infrastructure, guided by three key principles: 1) the solution must be grounded on the data warehousing principle of “one version of the truth” (OVOT); 2) the new solution must use open source and cloud computing technologies to perform the entirety of the valuation process, and 3) that processes and technologies had to be investigated, developed and implemented to self-enable the valuation department and therefore reduce their reliance on MPAC’s information technology department.
Over the course of the 2013 – 2015 timeframe, including approximately a dozen and a half individual project streams and countless exploratory tests including field trials, MPAC created the cloud based, disruptive valuation ecosystem known as Valuation as a Service or VaaS. Protected under international patent, the VaaS environment is S3 with Amazon Redshift, Python and JSON, and has been productized for international exportation to other assessment jurisdictions.
At the core of VaaS is the world’s most robust property valuation analytical engine, which has empowered MPAC’s modellers to achieve orders of magnitude efficiency gains. VaaS includes a highly-tuned data warehouse housed by Amazon Data Services, in addition a data repository known as Hindsight that stores data required for the valuation process. In addition, VaaS includes the ground-breaking Valuation Tree solution which intelligently manages the way models interact with properties, sophisticated decomposition tools that improve the way complex properties are valued, as well as an array of federated solutions in the areas of data management, reporting, data visualization, workflow management, customer interaction, valuation lineage tracking, data monetization, geospatial assessment and much more.
With the creation of VaaS, MPAC achieved significant outcomes which are detailed in a new Whitepaper, Transforming Property Valuation. The VaaS solution is created by one of the world’s leading assessment jurisdictions for other assessment jurisdictions, and was built with the collective wisdom and passion of dedicated and experienced valuation professionals.
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AxiLogic Assessment Corporation is a proud member of Axilogic Group (www.axilogicgroup.com)