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Foundation for Puerto Rico explores AI solutions to housing crisis

A panel held by Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR), “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Housing Crisis in Puerto Rico,” touched on potential AI practices that could help mitigate the island’s housing crisis in areas such as data collection and optimizing permitting processes.

“In Puerto Rico, the databases are so unreliable and inaccessible that they do not reflect reality,” said Rep. Ángel Fourquet-Cordero, who chairs the Housing and Urban Development Committee. “Combine that with the lack of a real [housing] inventory, and how can we work on a problem if we don’t know the reality? These technological resources give us opportunities to increase efficiency, enhance our ability to organize, understand our reality, create real and manageable databases, and work on real solutions.”

The Popular Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker further noted that he believes there is a “need to modernize our data systems and our strategy to address problems and seek solutions beyond the existing resources.”

The panel is part of an FPR initiative that aims to discuss the adoption of AI in Puerto Rico and ways in which it could represent solutions to the challenges the island faces.

For his part, one of the panelists, Henry Keenan, who is CEO of Red Atlas, a real estate search engine for Puerto Rico, explained how through the use of AI, databases could be created and information could be validated, helping to streamline works. 

“With AI, the data collection process is facilitated,” Keenan said. “Through the use of this technology, we can match cadastral numbers with permits, and with permits, we can connect with addresses, and this, in turn, with real estate advertisements, thus facilitating the collection of data in our operations.”

During the discussion, the panelists also shared their perspectives on the adoption of AI, its impact and the benefits that early implementation of this technology could bring. 

“There was a quote that caught my attention, which said that AI is like the steam engine for the brain,” said Vicente Gascó, director of 3D printing studio Tredé. “This technology could play this role for us as human beings, like the steam engine did for the industrial revolution. I don’t believe that AI will replace people; those who know how to use AI will replace those who don’t in terms of employment.”

Meanwhile, FPR Development and Marketing Director Alan Taveras pointed to the nonprofit’s recently published study on the island’s housing issues.

“In it, beyond listing factors that impact the supply and prices of housing, recommendations are presented to mitigate the existing crisis,” Taveras said. “With this panel, we want to continue touching on this important topic but also delve into how AI can be a tool to provide solutions and promote affordable housing.”

Through a series of events and initiatives similar to the AI panel, FPR is seeking to help educate about the use of AI so that Puerto Ricans can be informed and prepared to adopt the technology.

“AI is a reality, many call it the fourth industrial revolution, and its adoption will bring inevitable changes,” Taveras added. “Our interest is to have Puerto Rico prepared to navigate this technological wave and that, by being ready and educated, its impact will be positive for our economic and social development.”

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