commonfloor

Real estate portal CommonFloor has launched ‘Smart Guard’, an app that lets gated communities record visitor information digitally. As of now, the platform is available only on Android.

The app allows administrators (selected residents of a gated society) to login on the platform. Post login, administrators can create accounts for new/existing guards, which in turn allows guards to login and mark entry and exit visitors. When a new person enters the society, an SMS is sent to resident of that visitor, with weekly email report sent to admins of the society.

The app also allows guards to set the gate from which they are using the app to aid accurate reporting. It also sports a ‘Smart Check-In’ feature, that claims to allows visitors to make entries in case security guards do not know English. The app also claims to record if the security guard gets approval from residents before letting in visitors and features in-built telephone support for the guards. As of now, it claims to support various kinds of visitors like working staff, guests of residents and delivery/vendors.

While this initiative helps keep entry/exit logs centralized and organized, we wonder what Commonfloor does with all the data that the app gathers. Interestingly, the company mentions that if a visitor is coming in for the first time, then the security guard has to do a 1-time registration. More interestingly, according to the company, “We are also working with a few partners to integrate Aadhaar based verification in to the app so that they can do instant verification of staff identity.”

Practically speaking, giving away data like the phone number to a random app at each housing society one enters is not something users will be very happy about. Secondly, moving data like the phone number (and Aadhaar card details) and which house a visitor is going to a central server and creating a network of relations, which is potentially hackable, sounds much riskier than writing down the numbers in a book that will probably be lost/archived in a couple of years.

MediaNama’s take: That said, last year we wrote about the privacy nightmare that comes with giving away our number’s and scanning our ID’s etc., for ‘security purposes’ at pretty much every society. We had said then that while we give our data away to mobile phone companies and banks, and hope they don’t sell it, the other seemingly innocuous data collection takes place at entrances to office buildings and gated colonies: large notebooks with yellowed pages, and frayed and filthy edges collect names, addresses, mobile numbers and signatures. Seemingly, now such data, for the better or worse, will slowly start moving online. In a way, this could improve the situation, as known central databases holding this information can be held culpable on data misuse, on the other hand putting all our data in one place makes it equally vulnerable to hackers, security flaws, data breaches and the likes.

Virtual tour for property listings & locality

In May this year, CommonFloor introduced a virtual tour for resale and rental property listings which would provide users a 360 degree view of the property. The tour would display the property from wall to wall and ceiling to floor. The company said that the idea behind this was to display the entire house virtually, saving property hunters the trouble of physically going and visiting the house. Launched only for Bangalore, Delhi-NCR and Mumbai, CommonFloor planned to roll this feature to 18 other cities by March 2016.

Subsequently in August, the company introduced a locality virtual tour on its portal, which would offer a virtual walk through of 100 neighbourhood localities across Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, aimed at an ambitious goal of letting a user select a property in half a day. The tour will include a 360 degree view or a street view of the mapped location on Google Maps, which it hopes will eliminate the user’s need to visit the location in order to get an idea of the civic infrastructure, healthcare, shopping and entertainment, education, safety and dining facilities. The company had said then that it would add 400 more localities across 10 cities over the next 6 months.

CommonFloor Retina for 3D listings

In February this year, CommonFloor introduced CommonFloor Retina, a virtual reality initiative, to let users view listed real estate in 3D. The platform supported Android phones LG Nexus 4 and above, Moto G2, Samsung Galaxy 4 and above, MotoX and the Xiaomi Mi3. Users would need to download at least one of the CommonFloor Retina apps– each property was a standalone app- to browse multiple properties.

CommonFloor’s investment, funding and acquisition

In July, CommonFloor invested $2.5 million in Flatchat, an app which lets students and bachelors find accommodation and flatmates. With this investment, CommonFloor essentially increased its stake in Flat.to.

In January, CommonFloor raised undisclosed amount of investment from Google’s late stage growth fund Google Capital. This was CommonFloor’s third investment round in the past year, which included $30 million from Tiger Global in September last year and Rs 64 crore from Tiger Global and Accel India in January last year.

In the same month, CommonFloor also acqui-hired the Bangalore based messaging startup Bakfy for an undisclosed amount. The company had previously acquired student accommodation portal Flat.to to enter into the student and bachelor accommodation segment in April 2014.

In March 2013, it had launched an Android app called CommonFloor Property India, that let users search properties for buying or renting. The app offered an augmented reality-based search functionality which allowed users to hold the app in camera mode and browse through property listings within 2.5 km radius of their current location.