How NoBroker platform is leveraging tech for ensuring Covid-19 safety measures
In an interview with Express Computer, Akhil Gupta, Co-Founder and CTO, NoBroker, shares details about the tools to ensure Covid-19 precautions and how emerging technology solutions are supporting these functions
By Gairika Mitra
What are the latest emerging trends in the community living space?
Historically, all of community management was done through registers and manual book-keeping. Management committee members would have to dig into the society registers for records, billing, or accounting work. Making maintenance payments, booking facilities, and ensuring safety of residents was quite a task. But technology has given a facelift to society living through community management apps. Apps like NoBrokerHood have made life secure and hassle-free for residents and management committee members.
The app has integrated entry, security, club maintenance, and payments and accounting software, all onto one single platform, thus ensuring maximum security and zero-errors.
Today, society residents’ dependence on community apps has increased. The pandemic has given further impetus to this. Below is a quick list of resident security concerns and how each of them is addressed by our community app, NoBrokerHood.
Grocery store on app: When the lockdown was announced, there was a lot of paranoia regarding buying groceries and essentials. Within a matter of days, “grocery store” feature was made available on the NoBrokerHood app in partnership with ITC and BigBasket to help residents procure daily essentials from the comfort of their homes without having to step out.
Covid tracker: There are many apps and news updates on the number of positive cases. But most of them share information at a scale, i.e. at state, city, and national level. NoBrokerHood shares information of the containment zones data to tell residents how many containment zones are near them. This is done at a micro-level and information is far more relevant. This is done using AI and ML. To elucidate, the tracker will tell you if your domestic help is coming from a containment zone so you can choose to permit or refuse entry in the interest of safety. Technology tracks every single person who enters a society.
Forums and chats: Earlier people used to gather around to discuss important issues but since that is not an option due to Covid, forum and chat come in extremely handy for residents within a society to stay connected. They can share information regarding safety updates, start a discussion on any topic, and multiple other things. The forum is for community communications while the chat option is for private conversations.
Homechef: A lot of bachelors do not know how to cook and were in a habit of ordering food or hired a domestic help for the same. But during lockdown, it became difficult to have helps enter the societies. So NoBrokerHood launched the “homechef” feature on the app. People who like cooking can register themselves as chefs and people who want to order food from hygienic environment within the society can order food from them. Ordering food from online food aggregators carries some risk as one cannot be sure whether the cook, the delivery agent, and multiple partners involved in delivery are healthy. But within the society, you would know that the food you’re ordering from is from a person who is not Covid positive.
Patrolling: Committee members and residents can’t personally monitor if their security guards are checking every spot in the building society. With many blocks, many amenities, and many miles to cover, most security guards try to find shortcuts and skip checking certain spots. With NoBrokerHood’s Guard Patrol, residents and MC members can print out unique QR codes for the building society. These QR codes will be created at specific locations in the building society and will be linked to latitudes and longitudes. QR code stickers can then be placed at the matching locations.
The security staff or guard on patrol will need to scan each QR code on his beat. The guard’s duty is not complete until each and every QR code on his beat is scanned. Committee members can check when the guard started his beat, how long he took, what path he took, and when he is done. They can see the time and date of each scan, all from the NoBrokerHood dashboard. Guard Patrol uses geotagging and GPS on the guard devices. This means each scan has to match the geotagged location, and GPS will show if the guard is actually at that spot while taking the QR scan. He should be within 10 metres of the QR code for the app to accept his scan.
This is a fool-proof method to ensure safety can cannot be tampered with. If the guard tries to scan the QR code for the clubhouse in his cabin, or anywhere else, he will get an error message saying that he is in the wrong location.
If there is anything that seems out of place or something that needs immediate attention, the guard can instantly take a picture and create an Incident Report.
SOS feature: The in app SOS button is all you need to keep any emergency at bay. Be it medical, fire or gas leak, theft or lift emergency, tap on the SOS button to alert your building security guards immediately. Tap the ‘SOS Alert’ button, select the type of emergency you are facing. It takes 5 seconds to send out the SOS alert, This button notifies all on-duty security guards and family members.
How do you think has automation been acting as the game-changer in the real estate space?
Automation in any industry works in the interest of time an effort. It cuts down on resource cost and is free from manual errors. We have deployed automation in multiple product lines and features for the convenience of our customers.
Touchless entry: The entries and attendance done for domestic help, and service staff, was done through two methods – Passcodes and Fingerprint scans (biometric). When you use the passcode method to monitor entry, there is a possibility that others can gain entry by proxy. They could use someone else’s passcode and enter your building society; serious crimes could occur. To fix this issue, fingerprint scanning was introduced. This method is fool-proof and eliminates the possibility of proxy entries. But, when COVID-19 is causing chaos, we wanted to find a way to eliminate touch, without diminishing security. The solution to this is – TouchlessEntry. This technology was built completely inhouse. We used face recognition to allow only those domestic helpers and service staff that have been approved by the society to enter. It starts with Face Capture. Here your ‘Daily Help’ or servicemen must be added to the app. Once the general information is noted on the app, you click on ‘Face Capture’. Here, 3 scans are taken of the person’s face – Left, Right and Centre. This is a one-time process that takes not more than 30 seconds. Once the individual is added, then next time they enter they will just have to face the guard’s mobile phone camera for a millisecond. It works extremely fast and can process 5 faces in less than a second! Once the scan is done, their entry will be approved. This is done using AI and ML.
Integration with Arogya Setu: We have integrated our NoBrokerHood app with Arogya Setu to help residents check number of Covid positive cases around them.
Masks and temperature checks: To keep the society residents safe and secure, NoBrokerHood has mandated temperature checks and wearing of masks for all visitors entering the society. Fever or temperature screening is done daily for all visitors, delivery personnel, maids, drivers and so on, at the gate itself. To manage SOPs in Covid tracking, we have integrated the system with temperature checks to deny entry to anyone with high risk.
Auto-debit feature for rent payments: Rent was traditionally being paid via cheques, cash, and net banking. NoBroker Pay was the first product to allow payment of rent via credit cards (and debit cards, UPI wallets, online transfer). It also has an auto debit feature wherein tenants do not have to remember when to pay rent. They can just schedule the same date for every month. The rent amount will be credited to the landlord’s account automatically on the same date every month. Traditionally, people have been going to society offices to pay maintenance. Since the onset of Covid-19, residents are preferring to make payments digitally rather than in person. Our product line, NoBroker Pay, now allows residents of any society to make rent and maintenance payments online with Debit Cards, UPI wallets and even Credit cards.
What are the latest developments in the pipeline for NoBrokerHood?
We are constantly looking for way to make the lives of society residents and our customers easy. Couple of features that are under progress or have just been rolled out are:
Intercom: We are introducing this feature to enable seamless communication between residents without them having to share their mobile numbers. Intercom facility enables communication between resident to resident and between guard and residents.
Walkie-talkie: This feature is a replacement for the expensive instruments that guards had to use for communicating with each other. We have enabled a walkie talkie feature on the NoBrokerHood app itself, so guards can stay in touch and alert each other in case of emergencies.