Broadacres Housing Association has chosen to equip its employees conducting Stock Condition Surveys with mobile technology from 1st Touch (www.1sttouch.com). The technology will record data on all of its properties and tenants and will assist Broadacres in tailoring the services it provides and will ultimately build into a planned and costed maintenance review.
As a charitable organisation with a housing stock spread across a wide rural area, Broadacres required a robust mobile solution that would link the surveyors’ PDAs to their Aareon QLx back-office housing management system. 1st Touch’s use of Smart Airtime is unlike other “always on” systems and 1st Touch sends data in short encrypted bursts only when a signal is available. This feature overcame Broadacres geographical signal issues.
The primary driver behind Broadacres choice of 1st Touch was the system’s proven integration links with the Aareon back-office system. The integration is achieved through 1st Touch Integrator; a powerful integration tool which enables 1st Touch mobile solutions to integrate easily with multiple solutions including any back-office system. By this means that data flows easily and automatically between systems, ensuring accuracy and dynamic updates. The resilient but flexible system enables easy, programming-free, user-customisable PDA based solutions to be created through its easy to use graphical interface and is specifically designed to simplify handheld form design and data capture. Market expertise was another important consideration. 1st Touch’s sole focus on mobile solutions and experience of the social housing sector weighed heavily against more general technology vendors who were offering mobile software as an add-on to their systems.
Broadacres’ Managing Director Steve Towers stated, “Any maintenance operation is only as good as the system and data it is built upon. The new system is designed to deliver considerable efficiency savings to our operation. Without a technical solution we would have to rely on a paper exercise and then manually transfer this data to our back-office system from the paper forms. With 1st Touch in place our savings should be significant and the data collected will be more complete. There are additional benefits in terms of customer profiling too. With 1st Touch deployed we can use the timing of the survey and the power of their technology to get to know our customers better.”
For his part Robert Dent, CEO of 1st Touch welcomed Steve Towers comments adding, “Initially Broadacres, who maintain the highest possible service commitments to tenants, faced a difficult challenge. They needed to find a mobile solution capable of coping with airtime issues given the broad geographical spread of the stock they hold. They also needed to find a solution that was easy to integrate with their existing back-office investment. From networking with other Aareon users it became very clear that 1st Touch was already meeting these needs at other social housing providers. We are delighted that they chose 1st Touch and we look forwards to working closely with them on other business areas.”