A ‘virtual tenement app’ to make it easier for residents living in shared properties to keep their buildings in good condition is being developed with the City of Edinburgh Council.
The product, on display today (Wednesday, 4 March) at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), was one of the successful entrants to the Civtech Challenge, a Scottish Government programme, which aims to harness entrepreneurial tech innovation.
Novoville, the tech company developing the app jointly with the Council, joined staff from the local authority to demonstrate how it will work to a specially selected audience of industry experts.
The app will allow residents to communicate with each other effectively when progressing repairs and general maintenance for buildings they jointly own. It will create a digital version of a tenement and will allow users to produce reports on issues they are facing and send them out to a surveyor or trade to get a survey or quotation.
Each property owner will have access to this information online in a secure closed group making it easier for people to make quicker decisions and sign up to much needed work that may need to be done on a property they partly own.
The original challenge set in the Civtech programme by the Council was - ‘How can we use technology to manage the property condition of communal areas in privately owned tenements?’
The app will now be tested in the market and it is planned to be rolled out for general use by the end of the summer.
Cllr Alasdair Rankin, Convener of the Finance and Resources Committee, said:
Edinburgh has around 170,000 tenement flats and other shared buildings with multiple owners. Many of these buildings are still in need of urgent repair. This app will make it much easier for owners to engage and take responsibility for this.
Edinburgh is already leading the way in this area. Our Shared Repairs Team is doing a fantastic job and is a member of the Parliamentary Working Group on this issue. They help people who live in shared buildings through the steps they need to take to carry out repairs to their properties properly.
The app takes this a step further. It’s about us making use of the legislation that we have so owners can communicate with each other on an instant digital platform to make it easier for them to keep their buildings in a good state of repair.
I’ve been really impressed by the way our staff recognised the need for this product and rose to the challenge using the Civtech Challenge to produce this innovative app with Novoville.
Public Finance Minister Ben Macpherson said:
CivTech is a new way of approaching procurement by pairing public service teams with Scotland’s digital entrepreneurial talent.The programme provides ways of exploring responses to the most difficult issues we face as a nation, including how we respond to the climate crisis and improve wellbeing for all our citizens.
The virtual tenement app is one of the exciting new projects on display at the CivTech Demo Day. The event is a culmination of months of hard work from our innovative public service challenge sponsors and the companies and entrepreneurs who responded. It is also a platform for companies to showcase their work and encourage other public organisations to consider how they can use technology to solve problems.
Louis Daillencourt, Business Development Director, Novoville, said:
CivTech is a unique opportunity for us to get to the bottom of a local government issue, and design a game-changing solution to it. What’s more, the City of Edinburgh Council has been excellent at supporting us to understand their requirements, and we’re really proud of what we’ve built. The sky’s the limit for a service like this one in a sector like building maintenance. There is a lot of work to do and a lot of value to add! Demo day is really day zero for us.
Civtech is a Scottish Government innovation programme.
Public sector organisations, including councils and government agencies, set challenges and invite proposals with the aim of attracting new ideas from tech companies.
This year, ten challenges were set, with 14 companies selected to join the digital accelerator programme.