CUSTOM MOBILE & WEB APPLICATION FOR COMMERCIAL & RESIDENTIAL FIRE INSPECTIONS

  • Transformational digitization of fire safety inspection that always had a paper based approach traditionally
  • Auto-save and data caching to ensure error free experience
  • Report archiving and quick retrieval of historic data for easy reference
  • TECH STACK:
    Java Angular MySQL React Native
  • EXPERTISE:
    Digital Strategy & ConsultingCustom Software DevelopmentMobile App Development
  • VERTICAL:
    StartupConstruction
  • ENGAGEMENT MODEL:
    Fixed Cost Fixed Scope

BACKGROUND

By law, fire safety inspections are mandatory for all residential and commercial buildings across the country. Some inspections are done annually, some bi-annually and some quarterly. For years, the industry relied on a lengthy inspection process by fire inspectors that involved capturing data about fire safety equipment installed on a building, using pen and paper. It then required typing, printing, and signing the report before certifying that the building has met fire safety regulatory standards. In case of errors, the inspector was required to return to the site to fix documentation issues.

The client, a fire safety inspector knew that there had to be a more effective method to manage, organize, and execute commercial and residential fire safety inspections. Hence, he set out to find a technology partner that could help him automate the process and build a mobile product to digitize the fire safety inspection process from start to finish thereby getting it ready for the 21st Century.

Having seen firsthand how cumbersome and inefficient the process was, he discussed about his vision for a technology solution that he felt could be more intuitive and less work-intensive. In the initial strategy & consulting discussions, we discussed what he saw as a gap in the market for an app that he was sure would transform the primitive paper-based fire safety inspection process.

Challenges

There were a couple of challenges we were kept apprised of, early on.

Wi-Fi/Mobile Data Availability - Fire safety equipment is installed across all floors in a building, including rooftops and basements that are several floors below ground level, where wi-fi signal and mobile data are either unavailable or unreliable. To allow for fire safety inspection information to be captured comprehensively and fully via a mobile device, the proposed solution had to work regardless of the availability of Wi-Fi connectivity or mobile data.

Scattered installation - In order to complete a fire safety inspection, inspectors had to fill out approximately 200 data points spread across several forms. However, there was no way to pre-determine in what order the forms fields should be shown to the inspector as every building had a unique fire safety equipment configuration that changes based on architecture, number of floors, and floor area among other things.

After a couple of initial meetings with our business and technology teams in which we presented our product vision including solutions to the challenges above, the client was convinced we were the right technology partner to help him realize his business vision.

SOLUTION

Our solution revolutionized the fire safety industry’s processes. We replaced the antiquated paper-based system with a mobile solution that eliminated manual processes from all tasks including data capture, report generation and inspector signature. The cutting edge solution enabled inspectors to use their existing smart phone devices and do their jobs efficiently while adding no additional costs to the fire inspection companies as a result of this change. The product developed for FireLab consists of a mobile app and a web app.

The Web App

We developed three main dashboards/roles as part of the web application:

  • Fire inspection company login/dashboard – allows administrators of fire inspection companies to add new fire safety inspectors & buildings to the system, and assign Inspectors to their each of those buildings.
  • Fire safety inspector login/dashboard – where Inspectors could retrieve/modify/remove old reports, generate and digitally sign new reports, on their chosen mobile device. This was developed as a responsive app so that the inspectors could access it from their mobile devices as well.
  • Admin login/dashboard – enables the company's administrators to generate billing reports, manage user account permissions, and add/suspend/activate customer accounts as needed.

The Mobile App

The mobile app was developed solely for the fire safety inspectors. Though we already built a responsive web app for this, this native app could additionally allow inspectors to download this as an app on their smartphone and conduct the inspection with extra speed and efficiency, if they so preferred. This was built as a hybrid that allowed the application to be built once and deployed on both iOS and Android devices.

Our team implemented the following features and functionalities that allowed Inspectors to conduct all aspects of the inspection with greater efficiency and speed than before:

  • Super Signature - a third-party tool that allowed inspectors to sign the reports digitally using a stylus
  • HTML to PDF generator - an open source solution that generated reports in PDF format with the press of a button, right from their mobile devices
  • Form Auto-save - As inspectors tend to work on multiple forms/reports simultaneously, the application saves information to the backend in real time as inspectors input data into the forms. This way, nothing is lost when they alternate between screens.
  • Data caching - To overcome the issue with unreliable or unavailable wi-fi and mobile data when inspectors are in locations in the building with weak signal, we built in caching capability into the responsive web app as well as mobile app. When wi-fi or mobile data becomes available again, the form data is relayed back to server automatically by the app for saving into database.
  • Quick Menu - As fire safety inspectors go through buildings checking for equipment that are scattered in multiple locations across every floor, we designed the menu in such a way that they could get to any screen in no more than two clicks.

RESULTS

Our solution revolutionized the fire safety inspection industry. By digitization of the entire fire safety inspection, we were able to bring about a transformational change that eliminates errors, accelerates the inspection process, and enhances overall productivity of everyone involved – fire safety inspectors, fire safety inspection firms, and building managers.

Additionally, all the reports are stored in a secure and centralized cloud which allows building managers and fire safety inspection firms to gain access to the reports as soon as a fire safety inspector completes his work on site. This eliminates a substantial amount of logistical issues, clerical work hours and associated costs.

BENEFITS

  • Drastic improvements to inspector productivity
  • Error free and expedited inspection and report generation
  • Reduced operational costs & clerical work leading to cost savings for fire safety inspection companies
  • Multi-level access permissions to inspection reports depending on the logged in user's role
  • Multi-year report archiving of building reports stored on a cloud, made available for quick reference of inspectors with the click of a button on their mobile devices.

We'd love to hear from you!