With the largest geographic jurisdiction globally, the WA Housing Authority is also the second largest land conveyancer and property developer in WA. The department was faced an enormous challenge in managing and maintaining the huge variety of properties under its jurisdiction, as well as maintaining the safety of its property inspectors and tenants. “The job itself can be difficult to perform, especially with many properties located in remote areas where telecommunications are limited,” explained Majid Bassiri, Acting CIO. Ignia was tasked with creating a mobile solution that would improve the way property inspectors work, along with maximising safety for themselves and the tenants across Western Australia. These improvements would use intuitive mobile application design and cloud technologies to reduce inspection time, allow more flexible working arrangements for inspectors, reduce travel time and minimise paper use.
Since the rollout of the mobile app, the department has reached its ambitious target of at least 20,000 affordable housing opportunities (5 years ahead of schedule!) and has now committed to providing an additional 10,000 housing opportunities by 2020.
The Housing Authority inspectors faced several challenges, with many properties located in remote areas with little to no telecommunication coverage. It was imperative for the new solution to be able to work offline and upload when coverage is available. Mobile Apps offline sync provides the ability to download an inspection while in areas of internet coverage. “The inspectors often found themselves in unsafe situations due to property and tenant circumstances,” said Paul Smithdale, Senior Consultant at Ignia. “Scenarios could include interactions with tenants related to incidents reported to the Housing Authority, or dealing with tenants who had complaints filed with WA Police in regards to Housing Authority properties.” Of course, these properties may also present hazardous situations such as asbestos in fencing or outdoor sheds. It was critical for inspectors to have ability to review reported hazards and incidents related to the property and/or tenant prior to a property inspection. All of these requirements were carefully considered by Ignia at every stage of development.
We leveraged a large suite of technologies to create the final app package, including the Housing Authority’s Azure Active Directory, server-side Mobile Apps platform and the latest in cross-platform mobile development technologies through Xamarin. “Xamarin allows for a highly extensible, stable and consolidated development environment both for the current solution and for future developments,” explained Mr Smithdale. “There is no need to replicate changes for each native environment as all client and server changes only need to be done once. This cross-platform methodology also opens up the possibilities for inspectors to BYOD, which reduces platform lock-in and increases device options for both Housing Authority and the inspectors.”
It is these technologies, combined with real-time event and telemetry logging, that have allowed the Housing Authority to streamline their process and achieve their targets well ahead of schedule. It’s exciting to see what further gains to society their productivity will bring.