Why mobile apps don't suit everyone

In a recent conversation with a local authority I discovered that they had expensive problems related to damp in their social housing. Repair costs are huge, because often the tenant doesn’t report problems early enough, and litigation costs often follow due to health impacts of living in damp and mouldy accommodation. For this authority these two together were costing in excess of £20m per year.

As always solutions are complex. Several factors need to be addressed, and these include:

  • Early detection of problems
  • Tenant behaviour
  • Identifying fuel poverty

 

We designed a sensor that could monitor the damp present in the walls, but quickly realised that this only gives a partial picture: If the reading is taken next to a boiling kettle, or if a poorly vented tumble dryer is operating then this skews the results. So we quickly added temperature, humidity and pressure monitoring into the sensor.

damp radiator wall small

Then we needed to consider the external factors. What is the weather doing today? How does time affect our readings?

This of course is a typical big data application - correlating data from various sources to build a better picture. Continual monitoring over time enables us to identify where tenant actions may be affecting the results.

Tenant behaviour can have a big impact on the outcomes. For example, opening a window when the tumble dryer is on will make a big difference to the amount of moisture that remains in the building. How can we advise the tenant to take some action?

Today’s conventional wisdom assumes that everyone has access to the internet and a tablet or smartphone, so developers are quick to prescribe an app as the silver bullet. However, in the social housing world this approach will leave many excluded.

smart environment monitor sign

We have been developing low power LoRaWAN signage for a variety of applications for about two years. We quickly realised that a low cost sign, used in conjunction with the sensors could provide valuable feedback directly to the tenant.

We have since extended the concept to include reminders of appointments, and even allow relatives to post important messages on the signs, including dementia friendly symbols.

With sensors and signs that work over LoRaWAN there is no need for the tenant to have internet access at all.

Nick Wilcox, Chief Executive Officer, Giosprite

Want to find out more?

Read our Damp Sensor and Tenant Screen Fact Sheet