Digital Visitor Management System: Taking Data Beyond Gate Management

A mid-sized gated community can see visitors numbering hundreds in a day. A large housing complex can see a higher influx with visitors ranging from household workers to family members. Managing these guests is one of the top priorities for the society guards. With security being the prime concerns for most gated communities, only approved guests can be allowed.

Legacy systems ran visitor entry through registers to record details and intercom to communicate with residents. This system had several drawbacks, including the challenge of maintaining years of visitor registers. The legacy systems were replaced by digital visitor management systems (VMS) that created end-to-end solutions to make the process efficient, reducing both time and effort. 

However, the deployment of a digital VMS has many benefits that go beyond recording visitor data. Gatekeeper by ApnaComplex is an integrated VMS that includes multiple value-added services, helping in creating greater efficiency for Resident Welfare Associations / Management Committees and residents.

What is a digital visitor management system? 

At its simplest, a visitor management system is designed to record the details of guests, staff, delivery personnel, other people and vehicles that enter a gated community. Digital VMS like Gatekeeper leverage a digital platform to record and store all information. Under the system, guards use the Gatekeeper app to communicate with residents, seeking approval and notifying them of the entry and exit of any visitor. 

The app is also used to take down all visitor details, including their name, photograph, and address. The information is neatly segmented for different categories of visitors, such as daily help, delivery personnel, and staff. Backed by ApnaComplex’s award-winning ERP, it creates an end-to-end VMS with multiple usages. 

How does Gatekeeper improve efficiency for residents and MCs? 

Gatekeeper offers many benefits that go beyond safeguarding your society. The digitisation and automation of VMS can have unexpected benefits for residents and the management committee, including:  

Pre-approving guests: What happens when you anticipate a visitor, but may not be home to approve by phone? Or when you want the guest to simply walk in? Gatekeeper offers residents the option to pre-authorise guests. The process also frees residents and guards from the on-gate approval process, creating a smooth entry for approved visitors. 

Smoothen deliveries: Today, many residents expect multiple deliveries in a day. This can be challenging for working people who may not be home to receive their package. With Gatekeeper, you can pre-authorise all deliveries to be dropped off at your doorstep. 

Tracking guards: It is not always possible to check if every guard is taking the correct patrol route. CCTV supervision has blind spots and individual supervision can mean wastage of resources. Gatekeeper has a feature for Guard Patrol Tracking where the security personnel has to scan QR codes at blind spots. It creates an efficient system where the guard’s route can be tracked at any later date.

Tracking staff attendance: Gatekeeper is designed to notify residents every time their domestic staff enters or leaves the premises. The automation of data helps residents to keep track of their domestic help, including their attendance. 

Facilitating payroll: Gatekeeper automatically records the attendance of society administrative staff and other personnel. With an automated digital system, any chances of omission are negligible. This attendance record can be later accessed by the financial committee when processing payrolls. 

Checking school bus route: The app allows parents to trace the specific routes as school buses move through the society premises. They can connect with other parents and get real-time notifications whenever the bus reaches the society gates. 

Central database: Finally, one of the biggest advantages of a digital VMS is the centralisation of data. It brings all users on one platform, from guards to residents and the admin staff. The platform stores a database for members and staff. This data can be used for different purposes, including payroll and assessing footfall at different times of the day.

When harnessed properly, Gatekeeper automates many of the society’s operations, creating a more efficient process of data collection and retrieval which can then be leveraged to create further value for residents and the management committee. 

What is QR Code-Based Asset Management & How it Reduces Operational costs

Asset management is a critical part of the governance of a housing complex or gated community. It is concerned with the maintenance and upkeep of society assets like electrical fittings, elevators, or office equipment. Effective asset management can lower operational costs, improve performance, and increase efficiency. However, it can be a complex process involving asset tracking, performance monitoring, scheduling regular maintenance, and keeping an eye on the costs involved. 

ApnaComplex offers a comprehensive module for asset management including QR code- based asset tracking. The solutions are designed to give property managers holistic information about each asset on the premises through a simple QR code scan. This can facilitate timely servicing which is not just important for optimal asset performance, but may also play a crucial role in maximising its lifespan. 

What is QR-code based asset management?

Developed by a Japanese company in 1994, QR code is a matrix barcode that can hold a host of information, including valuable data, identifier or tracker towards a website or application. In asset management QR codes hold a clear edge over other alternatives like RFID or GPS tags because of two main reasons. Firstly, QR codes, especially dynamic QR codes, offer a very high degree of usage and customisation. Secondly and most importantly, they can be scanned by a smartphone. 

ApnaComplex leverages the QR code technology to facilitate both asset tracking and its complaint system. QR codes contain valuable information such as maintenance dues, AMCs, and much more.

Reducing Operational costs

The question now is how QR code-based asset management helps in reducing operational costs? The answer lies in its ability to streamline and automate asset management. 

No need for special equipment: Since QR codes can be scanned by a smartphone, we don’t need any special equipment for their deployment. The ease of scanning means that anyone can use it whenever required. In practice, it allows the manager or a service staff to quickly access all equipment data at a moment’s notice. Since the smartphone works as the scanning device, it also removes the need to invest in any additional equipment. 

Speedy asset identification: With a QR code, we don’t have to look up a database to identify the asset and gather all details regarding its service history. This saves time that would otherwise be spent in tracing relevant spreadsheets and invoices. In housing societies that have to manage a large scale of assets and equipment, this can be a valuable resource. 

Reduce asset downtime: Proactive maintenance can be carried out by carefully planning servicing schedules. Ready access to service history or maintenance records can give the data we need to create a schedule that reduces any operational disruptions. 

Improving performance: Data can be key in reducing the operational costs associated with repair and maintenance of assets. This is because data can be leveraged via technology to automate maintenance schedules or to call for repairs on time. By accessing service history, we can schedule timely service, thereby improving performance. 

Ensuring longevity: Ultimately, asset management aims at ensuring longevity of the asset through timely maintenance and repair. Well-maintained machinery where performance has been carefully planned for optimsation is likely to outperform its depreciation rate and last longer than expected. 

What makes ApnaComplex QR code-based asset management so efficient?

With ApnaComplex, QR code technology is backed with an ERP that can further automate key functions. The dynamic QR code allows the viewer to pull up all relevant information about the equipment or property. We can automate maintenance schedules so that all support functions can be carried out smoothly and without any delays. We can also set up an alert system to further ensure adherence to a service timetable. 

ApnaComplex also offers a QR code-based complaint system. This innovative feature allows residents and service staff to register a complaint on the ApnaComplex app by simply scanning the QR code. This further cuts down on time taken to identify problems, thus improving asset performance. In the long run, it can reduce asset depreciation, prolonging its lifespan. 

As an information repository, the QR code technology holds a clear edge over any other asset management tool. It provides us with instant access to information that is updated regularly. Backed up with ApnaComplex ERP solutions, QR code is one of the most important tools in asset management today, ensuring optimal performance and longevity. 

Why Digital Payments form the Backbone of Property Management

Financial transactions are a vital part of property management. From vendor invoices to rentals, and maintenance dues, the volume of such transactions is often the biggest challenge for management committees. It can include keeping up with defaulting payments, calculating late payment charges, and sending out timely reminders. 

Legacy systems that depended on cheques and cash payments were the norm until recently. While transfers through internet banking had gained ground, we were still far away from the vibrant digital payment ecosystem that exists today. With multiple options, from bank transfers, payment gateways, to UPI, digital payments have fast gained ground, replacing legacy systems across housing complexes and gated communities.

ApnaComplex offers a single platform where all digital payments are consolidated. Coupled with its award-winning ERP solutions, the program streamlines the overall financial management of gated communities to improve cost and labour efficiency.

Benefits of switching to digital payments

There are good reasons digital payments are fast becoming the norm in apartment management solutions. The digitalisation of payments has resolved some of the long-pending challenges in the financial management of a housing complex, significantly reducing time and effort. 

24/7 access: Unlike depositing cheques or cash, there are no fixed office hours to worry about. One of the reasons that digital payments work for both residents and MCs is the open access at all times. Residents can make their payments at any hour of the day and MCs are not hampered by bank hours to withdraw funds. 

Quick status update: Unlike bank transfers or cheque deposits, digital payments take minutes to be completed. The payee receives confirmation as soon as the payment is made. This means that the payment status can also be updated within minutes. 

Minimising loss of payments: Digital payments almost completely eliminate risks of bad cheques or human errors in writing or recording cheques. Since most electronic payment systems have in-built systems for verifications, any chance of payments that fail to come through are almost completely negated. 

Automating processes: Digital payments facilitate automation of financial transactions and bookkeeping, further boosting the efficiency in financial transactions and recordkeeping. Other than automating billing and collections, we can also automate reminders for defaulters. 

Paperless operations: Online payments mean that there are no cheques or paper receipts. Instead, digital payments rely on secure e-receipts. Hence, it is critical in transitioning to and maintaining paperless operations. 

How ApnaComplex facilitates digital payments 

As an apartment management software, ApnaComplex offers a single platform to consolidate all digital payments, from B2B transactions to rentals and maintenance fees. Residents can now make all their payments on one app. They can also access their transaction history to trace different payments. For property managers, it is a powerful tool to streamline billing and collections. Among its many features are:

  • Secure: The platform offers a safe and secure payment gateway. 
  • Multiple options: One can choose from different options, including NEFT transfers, netbanking or credit/ debit cards.
  • Economic: There are zero convenience charges. In addition, it also saves valuable operational time and costs on accounting and billing.
  • Virtual account: This account is assigned for each flat.
  • Facilitates automation: With ApnaComplex ERP solutions, digital payments are further leveraged for automation, setting up recurring invoices, ensuring accounting entries are automatically recorded, receipts issued on time, and defaulters report sent to members. The system also sends reminders to defaulters.

Digital payments are a crucial part of the Indian government’s flagship Digital India initiative. As we move towards greater integration of smart solutions in our daily life, we will see the emergence of more innovative products that facilitate cashless transactions. With both residents and MC benefitting from the ecosystem, it’s a win-win proposition that also promotes paperless operations. 

How a Digital Complaint Management System Leads to Speedy Redressal

One of the advantages of living in a gated community is the access to critical household service staff like plumbers, carpenters, and electricians. Many people choose to live in housing societies where such services are available. Their success, however, depends on the staff’s efficiency and efficacy in dealing with the residents’ complaints. Legacy systems that just rely on manual recordkeeping are rarely adequate, especially in large gated communities. 

Digital complaint management systems are designed for quick response and easy performance monitoring. The app-based system allows residents to lodge their complaints at any time and anywhere. With easy monitoring by admin staff, we can also ensure a swift response. 

What is a digital complaint management system?

A complaint management system is designed for residents to lodge their grievances. This can include repairs and maintenance work at home and premises. The system also keeps track of the status, checking on complaints that have been resolved. Legacy systems depend on registers where problems can be recorded and which the service staff can refer to for their daily work roll. However, such systems often suffer from multiple drawbacks, from lack of accountability to cumbersome communication. 

Digital complaint management systems offer a far more efficient solution that is geared for both the residents’ convenience and easy management. ApnaComplex Online Society Helpdesk is designed for centralised tracking of complaints, suggestions, and requests. Backed by a customisable escalation matrix, it creates an accountable and measurable redressal system to ensure quick resolution of complaints.

Challenges in addressing complaints in housing societies

Complaint redressal is one of the most challenging aspects of housing society management and the complexity increases with the size of the society. Service staff and the administration must keep track of the progress and the residents should be able to escalate their complaints. Some of the drawback of legacy systems include:

Difficulty in tracking progress: The status of complaint resolution depends solely on the service staff recording their own performance. This usually occurs at the end of their duty, which makes it difficult to check on the status of urgent repairs. It is also prone to misrepresentation by the service staff. 

No resident feedback: The resident’s role is typically limited to lodging the complaint. There is no mechanism for quick feedback other than calling up the manager. This can lead to their dissatisfaction and inability to be part of the process. 

Haphazard process: The process to lodge complaints is often haphazard and is rarely standardised. Some societies rely solely on phone calls while some record it in a register. Some societies may follow both. It can result in human errors, often leading to the omission of some complaints. 

How does the ApnaComplex solution work?

ApnaComplex Online Society Helpdesk is a digital solution that allows centralised tracking of complaints, bringing together residents, service staff, and the society management team on the same platform. It creates an accessible and transparent platform where different stakeholders can monitor the progress and leave feedback. As a standard design, it is easy to understand and adapt by multiple users. The well-planned format follows proper categorisation and segregation to prioritise urgent requests and allow easy follow-up. Some of the advantages of the digital complaint management system includes: 

Quick communication: As an online platform, it allows residents to lodge complaints at any time. On the other side, the management can also respond with an update or feedback. 

Prioritisation: Complaints can be segregated as per their priority. Residents can mark their request as ‘urgent’, asking for immediate action. 

Tracking progress: All complaints are tracked as in-progress or ‘closed’, allowing both residents and the management to check the progress. 

Escalation matrices: The admin console is equipped with escalation matrices up to three levels that bump up unresolved complaints to a higher supervisory level. This feature is designed to ensure these unaddressed complaints are under supervision. 

Feedback/reopen: Residents can leave feedback if they are dissatisfied with the service provided. They can also choose to reopen the complaint. 

Easy monitoring: The progress of each complaint can be easily tracked since the platform is accessible by all concerned, including the residents and the management. 

If you want to learn more about our Online Society Helpdesk, get in touch with us at support@apnacomeplex. Our team will help you understand the various features you can use for tracking complaints, suggestions, and requests.

What is an App-based Society Visitor Management System?

Visitor management is one of the biggest tasks in a residential complex. It becomes even more critical given that enhanced security is one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of gated communities. However, it can be a challenging task that must be carried out seamlessly 24 X 7. 

Depending on their size, housing complexes can receive anywhere from 10 to 1000s visitors in a day. This raises issues of data management, communication, and manpower training. Legacy systems that depended on register entries have long proven to be inadequate in meeting the scale of operations in large societies. Technology in the form of an app-based visitor management system holds the key.

What is an App-based visitor management system?

In a nutshell, a visitor management system is designed to trace guests, staff, deliveries, vendors, and other people who enter the premises. Advanced visitor management systems also keep track of cars, school buses, vans, or other vehicles. Apart from noting down the details of a visitor, this can also involve tracking their movements in the premises. App-based visitor management systems utilise the phone to record visitor data, communicate approvals, and track the movement of visitors. 

ApnaComplex offers Gatekeeper, a cutting-edge visitor management system. The app allows you to pre-authorise guests, courier/delivery, as well as track staff attendance, school buses, and guard patrol. 

Why do we need an app-based visitor management system?

Traditionally, the task of the visitor management system was confined to recording details in a register. But this method is highly inefficient and rarely goes beyond elementary entries. Some of the challenges in this system include:

  • Registers get damaged or lost over time. 
  • Guards making human errors when recording data
  • Wrong information given by guests
  • Relying on residents’ to allow visitors at a moment’s notice
  • Tedious process of tracking data making it almost impossible to pull up information as required.
  • Inability to track the movement of vehicles, guests, or staff.
  • No system for pre-approval.
  • No data insight. 

ApnaComplex resolves these challenges with Gatekeeper, an app-based solution that is easy to follow and understand. As a digital platform, it can be followed by residents, guards, and the concerned staff, allowing them to communicate seamlessly. Some of its features include: 

Visitor authorisation: Residents can pre-approve visitors for entry through an OTP-based gate pass. Pre-approved guests can enter the premises by displaying the OTP, thus reducing any time spent at the gate. The app records details for ad-hoc visitors, including their photograph. Visitors can also authorise delivery or courier service to drop off parcels in their absence. 

Tracking school buses: Residents can create a group for a bus route within the premises on the platform. The group can be used to track the movement of the bus with residents receiving real-time notifications on the bus’ movement in the premises. 

Material tracking: This feature allows residents and management to track the movement of material and goods from the society. It can be particularly useful during heavy movement of goods, such as when residents are moving out. 

Staff attendance: Once the residents have onboarded their help, their entry and exit is recorded every day. Residents receive real-time notifications every time their staff enters or leaves the society. The app also tracks the attendance of administration staff. The recorded data can be easily pulled up to track attendance. 

Monitoring guard patrols: What if you could monitor guard patrols remotely? Gatekeeper has a special feature where guards have to check-in at select locations during their daily patrol. This data can be later reviewed to check their attendance.

Real-time notifications: Residents receive real-time notifications on the entry and exit of guests, delivery people, or help from the society. This alerts them in case of an unauthorised visit.  

Easy data access: The biggest advantage of an app-based visitor management system is its data record and easy access. In a legacy system, it is difficult to trace data from registers and it gets almost impossible with the over time. However, digital data is nearly indestructible and easy to recall whenever required. This means we can trace the movement of people or material, track staff attendance,  

To know more about ApnaComplex Gatekeeper, read the details here. You can also schedule a free demo by calling us at 080886 11229.

Graphic of a creche with the text "Restarting Creches: Is it time?"

Is it Time to Reopen the Society Creche?

After two years of worldwide pandemic lockdowns, life has been returning to normalcy with gusto. As offices mandate physical attendance, many parents once again find themselves grappling with the problem of arranging proper care for their tiny tots. This has led to the demand for reopening childcare centres in residential societies.

Childcare facilities offer a safe environment for children, allowing many parents the freedom to work or take time off for themselves. However, this arrangement came to a stop during the pandemic when such centres were forced to shut down. But as the normal pace of life picks up again, it is time to ask if housing societies should reconsider opening up creches.

Increasing vaccination

High-contact areas like pre-schools and creches faced a global shutdown during the pandemic as a precautionary measure. Now we know that the direct impact of COVID-19 on child, adolescent and youth mortality is limited. Many countries chose to reopen schools so that parents could resume work. In India, we have taken a cautious approach, preferring to wait and watch. This has also been triggered by parents who were reluctant to send their children to daycare centres after two years of social distancing.

All this has changed after near-universal vaccination. Thanks to one of the largest vaccination drives in the world, almost all Indian adults are vaccinated today. With children from 5 years of age now eligible for COVID vaccines, we are inching closer to vaccinating the entire population. As a result, we have seen an aggressive push across different industries to resume normal operations, eventually leading to opening up of offices. Working parents can no longer afford to stay home to take care of their tiny tots. Consequently, there is now an increased demand for daycare across gated communities. 

Benefits for children and working women

The availability of childcare is a critical factor when it comes to working women. Even before the pandemic, a distressing 73% of new mothers reported leaving their jobs. Of this, only 27% return to work with a mere 16% advancing to senior positions. The pandemic has further worsened the situation with several studies indicating its disproportionate impact on women workers. 

Women were 7 times more likely to lose their job due to lockdown and 11 times more likely to not return to work even after the resumption of normalcy. The lack of appropriate childcare options remains a prime reason behind the skewed sex ratio in the Indian workplace. 

It is not just mothers who will benefit from the opening up of creches. The social isolation coupled with lack of physical activities has also affected small children. It drastically changed their daily life and routines, removing access to play areas and the ability to interact with their friends. A UNICEF study found an increased risk of mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety among children. 

Putting children safety on top

While there is an urgency to open up creches, we must stay mindful of COVID safety measures. Children should also be encouraged to follow certain rules of behaviour. UNICEF has issued guidelines on opening up preschools and kindergartens which can be viewed here. Some of the critical measures that can be adopted by creches are as follows:

  • Follow a well-planned opening with safety measures in place
  • Ensure that all areas are well-ventilated and airy
  • Support and educate caregivers
  • Teach healthy hygiene practices to young children 
  • Partner with parents on a smooth transition from home to creche 
  • Discuss COVID-safe habits in a child-friendly, honest manner
  • Communicate a clear policy to be followed in case a child or caregiver tests COVID +ve. 

With a high demand for reliable and accessible daycare, residential societies are now under increased pressure to reopen creches and daycare centres for children. As these centres gear up to reopen, we must also stay vigilant about following COVID-safe measures. 

Graphic of amask with the text "COVID-19: Is it Time to Let Go?"

Should we Still Worry About COVID-19?

As offices and public places open up, 2022 seems to be the year we resume our normal life after two years of a global pandemic. Yet, the year began with a highly contagious Omicron variant, again forcing us all to stay home. As the number of infections fell, normalcy started to return with gusto. From resuming in-office attendance to shopping and attending concerts, it seems we cannot wait to make up for the lost time. 

But for those of us who would still like to put caution before fun or duty, the main question is, should we still be worried about COVID-19?

Are we over the COVID scare?

The answer can be mixed. While our overall COVID anxiety may have dipped in the wake of near-universal vaccination, it would be inadvisable to completely drop our guard. It must be noted that there are still fresh infections reported every day. For some people, COVID may still be fatal. However, the good news is that the rate of recovery is now over 98%. 

The dilemma on whether or not we should stay cautious about COVID-19 comes from the rapidly changing status of the pandemic. As new variants are reported, the number of positive cases also seems to fluctuate. While countries like India have resumed normal day-to-day life, the Chinese government is still following a zero-COVID policy. After two years of intense precautions and anxiety around the pandemic, many may find it difficult to let go of all precautions.

In fact, the World Health Organisation still advises caution by keeping yourself safe, wearing a mask, and following good hygiene. The Government of India also strongly advises the use of face masks and hand hygiene. WHO safety guidelines are:

  • Get vaccinated. Follow the government’s guidance on vaccination.
  • Keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others, even if they don’t appear to be sick. 
  • Avoid crowds and close contact.
  • Wear a properly fitted mask when physical distancing is not possible and in poorly ventilated settings.
  • Clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues immediately and clean hands regularly. 
  • If you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, self-isolate until you recover.

What to do if you test positive?

Despite all precautions, you can still catch COVID. Remember that COVID is highly contagious and it is important to keep both yourself and others around you safe during this period. Start with educating yourself about COVID symptoms, which include fever, dry cough, sore throat, and breathing difficulty. You can do a home test or an RT PCR for confirmation. The GOI issued the following guidelines for home isolation:

  • Isolate from other family members
  • Stay in a well-ventilated room
  • Wear a triple-layer medical mask at all times
  • Take rest and drink a lot of fluids
  • Wash your hands frequently or use a hand sanitiser
  • Don’t share personal items including utensils
  • Regularly clean frequently-touched surfaces
  • Self-monitor blood oxygen saturation levels
  • Keep track of your temperature 

While the government advises self-monitoring of health, you should seek immediate attention if you have:

  • Unresolved high fever (more than 100°F for more than 3 days)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dip in oxygen saturation with Sp ≤ 93% on room air for at least 3 readings in an hour or respiratory rate > 24/minute.
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Mental confusion or inability to arouse
  • Severe fatigue and myalgia

Currently, the home-isolation period is at least 7 days after testing positive, provided there is no fever for 3 successive days. Asymptomatic people need not undergo COVID test, but should monitor their health in home quarantine. 

How is ApnaComplex helping in creating COVID-safe communities?

Creating a COVID-safe community has been one of the major focuses during the pandemic. Management committees were responsible for enforcing the government’s safety guidelines. It involved multiple challenges, such as tracking and isolating each case as well as monitoring visitor entry.

As a leading apartment management software solution, ApnaComplex plays a critical role in ensuring that MCs are well-equipped to handle these challenges. The app offers a digital platform that enables different people to collaborate towards building a COVID-safe community. The various tools for this initiative include: 

  • COVID and Quarantine Tracker: The tracker was designed to record each positive case in an area, enabling residents and managers to track quarantined units.
  • Vaccination Tracker: It created a transparent vaccination database for residents and staff.
  • Gatekeeper: The visitor management monitors and tracks the visitors in any residential area. Through this system, security can ensure that COVID-safety guidelines are observed at all times. 
  • Facility Booking: This feature allows residents to book a facility like the gym or swimming pool. By limiting the number of bookings, management could control the number of people gathered at the facility. 
  • Contactless transactions: Fully automated payment gateways allow contactless payments across all functions, including rentals or maintenance payment. 
  • Digitized Moving Process: To reduce the chances of in-person contact, this feature allows new residents to get approval for all required documents well before moving in.
  • Community engagement: With social interactions severely impacted due to COVID restrictions, our virtual community forums enabled residents to post notices and seek help. 

To sum up, we must stay vigilant in implementing COVID-safe behaviour, especially in public spaces. Apartment management committees cannot afford to be lax in following the GOI’s guidelines. ApnaComplex offers multiple tools in helping residential complexes to plan for a safe environment while ensuring efficient delivery of services and fostering community relationships.  

Buying A Home As A Pet Parent – Factors to Consider

Home is where we can live in comfort with our loved ones. Finding an ideal home is important to all of us and we have multiple avenues to look for an abode. But for pet parents, the hunt for an ideal home can be a bit more complicated than just picking up the classifieds. There are many factors to consider before buying a home. These include:

Is the society pet friendly?

If you are looking at residential complexes, the first thing that you should know is whether the complex is pet friendly. Certain rules, such as cleaning up after pets in common areas, are to be expected and even welcomed. It shows the management’s understanding of pet behaviour and an overall push towards responsible pet parenting. However, excessive rules and regulations that curtail the movement of pets show an unwelcome attitude that can become troublesome. 

A good way to gauge people’s attitudes towards pets is by talking to other pet parents. You can find them on pet forums in your city or through your network. Ask them about rules regarding pets, if there have been disputes between pet parents and other residents, and how such disputes were resolved. Their experience will give you valuable insight into the society’s attitude towards pets. 

Are there walking trails or parks nearby?

Many pets, like parrots, guinea pigs, or fishes, are home-bound. Their habitat and movement is usually limited within the boundaries of the home. But dogs need outdoor exercise that includes walking, running, and playing. Residential complexes generally have walking trails and parks in the premises. If not, check if there are such areas near your home. Areas with very heavy traffic may not work in this case as you will be able to walk your dog only at dawn or when there is no traffic. Similarly, parks are also essential for dogs to play. 

Does it have a yard or an outdoor space?

If you are looking for an independent home, it may be worthwhile to pick a home with a yard, particularly if you have a dog. In the absence of a dog park nearby, a yard or garden is a great place for your dog to play. 

Is it located near your vet?

Some pet parents may want to live near their vet so that they can access support quickly in an emergency. There are typically not as many vets as there are doctors in a city. So, you might want to ensure that you can reach a vet quickly when needed.  

Stairs or lift?

If you have an elderly pet, particularly a dog, you may want to avoid stairs. If you have stairs inside the home, you will need to create a space for your pet on the ground floor.  In the case of an apartment, look for complexes with lifts. 

Do you have pet-friendly floors?

For obvious reasons, it’s best to avoid floors that scratch easily. Fluffy rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting are usually susceptible to stains and are hard to clean. Similarly, wooden floors may scratch easily. Look for floors that are easy to clean and scratch-proof. 

Know your society’s rules and regulations regarding pets

When living in a residential complex, it is always important to know the rules and regulations regarding pets. These can pertain to vaccinations, feeding spots, or cleaning up. While some rules can be expected, no management committee has the right to ban pets from living in the premises. You can read more on this subject in our article on Pets & apartments: Why they get to stay and you do too.

Find out more about the Rights and Responsibilities of pet owners here

To connect with other pet parents or to discuss issues regarding pets, you can also check out the ApnaComplex app for your society. The online platform has forums and communication groups where you can access important notifications, rules and regulations, and meet like-minded people.

Picture of leaf with dewdrop and text saying "Rainwater Harvesting: Cases Studies"

Drinking, Cooking, Cooling, & Disaster Management: How Rainwater Harvesting is promoting Water-Sufficiency

When conducted properly, rainwater harvesting has the potential to reverse the current water crisis in India. In fact, this is the driving reason behind the increasing governmental push towards mandating rainwater harvesting in high-consumption domestic and commercial areas. Many housing societies have also taken proactive steps to install and maintain RWH structures on their premises. 

However, the reality fell short when the existing RWH system was inadequate in recharging the existing groundwater supply across many such communities. Yet, there are also many success stories where companies and households have successfully turned the tide, not only replenishing their groundwater supply, but also gaining water positivity. This refers to cases where the RWH system successfully replenished more water than consumed. 

Getting the Right RWH system

Investing in a well-planned RWH can have a multi-faceted and long-lasting impact. Our case studies show that its effects on residents’ quality of life can be invaluable. These include a household that moved from using RWH for non-essential to essential uses like drinking or cooking. In another case, RWH reversed the salinity of the household tubewell. In all these cases, we have also seen water positivity. 

Here are four case studies that show the effectiveness of planned and design-based RWH:

Case study 1: Improving the TDS quality

RWH offers one of the most effective means of replenishing groundwater while improving its TDS quality. These results were seen at Mrs. Preetiben Adani’s bungalow when she decided to invest in RWH to address the decreasing water levels of the tube well at her Ahmedabad bungalow. In addition, the landscape area around the tubewell was turning pale yellow from green. This was due to the high-TDS saline water from the tubewell. Such saline water can have adverse health effects, including gastrointestinal and stomach illnesses like nausea, vomiting, and cramps.

To address this, an RWH specialist team suggested a surface rainwater harvesting system to capture, filter and divert, silt-free runoff into the saline aquifer. With time, the harvested rainwater diluted the groundwater aquifer from 2800 TDS to almost 1300 TDS!

Case study 2: Good enough to drink!

Typically, RWH in households is used for non-essential uses like flushing water or gardening. This is because the quality of filtered water in a conventional or traditional RWH structure is uncertain. Unless one checks the quality, it can be highly unsuitable for consumption. However, Ramendubhai Parikh, a bungalow owner in Gujarat, decided to put his faith in rainwater instead of any external water supply. When filtered in the right manner, we can retain all the necessary minerals and rainwater’s optimal pH.

To be sure of the quality, he consulted RWH specialists to install a filtration module and store rainwater in a 35,000 litre tank with internal tiling. The overflow from the tank was directed towards their tube well, which also helped in bringing up its water level. In addition, TDS levels

improved significantly. The family adapted the Ayurvedic concept of storing the filtered rainwater in a copper tank overnight with highly encouraging results. 

Case study 3: Self-sustainability with cooling

An RWH system can have unexpected benefits, such as creating a cooling environment for a home. This is what happened when Bankimbhai Pandya, an Architect from Ahmedabad, decided to conserve and use rainwater for his new bungalow during its construction in 2009. For this purpose, an RWH specialist suggested harvesting rooftop rainwater which would be filtered and stored in an underground tank with 35 thousand litres capacity. The tank was installed under the living room which was at the centre of the house.

Today, the household has successfully achieved water positivity. As an added benefit, the water, stored at the epicentre of the house, absorbs the heat from the surrounding concrete and gives a natural cooling effect. 

Case study 4: Disaster Management 

Water is life giving, but it can also turn into a deadly force. However, we can lessen the impact by planning proper drainage which diverts the water to hungry aquifers. Recharge wells, part of a RWH system, can be deployed as vertical drainage systems that push surface water back into the groundwater system.

Gandhinagar Electronic Zone Industries Association leveraged a modular RWH system to filter heavy silt load in its surrounding streets. Not only was the association able to recharge wells with about 17 crores litres of water every year, it also successfully avoided storm drainage in the entire industrial area. 

These case studies show how properly planned modern rainwater harvesting systems are slowly changing the landscape one project at a time. With the recharging of groundwater, it is also improving the quality of life where deployed, from improving the quality of drinking water to reducing the impact of natural disasters. 

Picture of leaf with droplet with the text 'Rainwater Harvesting: Conventional Vs Design-Based'

Conventional Or Design-Based RWH? Find out What Works Best for You

With concerns on the climate change crisis and water woes on the rise, the government and civil society have taken a focused approach toward water conservation. It has renewed interest in rainwater harvesting, a traditional form of water management that has been practiced across India since antiquity. While traditional RWH structures evolved according to ecology, the demands of an urban ecosystem led to a more standardised approach. 

The resultant conventional structures were uniform in design. With an increasing number of states mandating RWH for gated communities once they reach a certain size, the conventional structures became ubiquitous. But as the water crisis deepens across our cities, current systems are proving to be inadequate. It has led to alternative solutions, including a more design-based scientific approach.

Emergence of design-based RWH structures

With a strong tradition of RWH, India has seen the emergence of new designs to accommodate changing requirements. Currently, we are again in the midst of a revolution in RWH design that is being driven by a severe water shortage in almost all urban areas with depleting groundwater levels. It has prompted a second look at current designs and practices to address different lacunae.

A design-based approach leverages product design to envisage RWH solutions from a different perspective. It reimagines water harvesting to address the specific needs of the consumer, from recharging borewells to improving the TDS of the water supply. As a result, we have seen the inclusion of new materials and technologies. 

Conventional Vs Design-Based Scientific approach

Area: The average conventional structure follows a cubical or circular design, measuring 4 x 4 x 4m. This is a significant footprint for projects in urban spaces where space may be at a premium. This has led to the emergence of more innovative designs that can achieve the same goal while occupying a smaller space. For instance, we now have modular structures which are just 1.5m in diameter.  

Ease of installation: Conventional structures depend on heavy masonry to be installed. The process can take anywhere from one to two weeks. In contrast, we now have precast modular structures that can be installed in just two days. Unlike the immobile traditional design, modular structures are easy to mobilise and sustain. 

Greater flexibility: Most conventional structures are rigid and follow a set design with a single pit structure. Modern designs show a high degree of flexibility as per the site conditions with more choices on filtration devices and structures. 

Ease of access: The conventional structure is difficult to access internally, making regular maintenance work difficult to carry out. Design-based models stress on easier access. These structures can have an internal ladder or rung system that makes it easier and safer to carry out regular maintenance work. 

Measurable: The conventional RWH structure does not have a measuring mechanism whereby we can judge the TDS quality of the filtered water. Scientific structures emphasise measurable results and will generally specify minimum filtration capacity.

Filtration media: Conventional structures use a combination of sand, pebbles/gravels/metals, carbon, and charcoal. Modern structures have come up with more innovative designs and materials to improve water filtration, such as increasing the number of filtration layers and using different mediums. 

Risk of choking: One of the biggest challenges in the conventional structure is the high risk of choking. This is because of the contraction of sediments in a limited space. Modern modular structures resolve this challenge through innovative design that avoids such accumulation. 

Easy maintenance: Conventional structures are typically difficult to maintain as internal access is cumbersome. It is time-consuming and requires a special mechanical device. Other than easy access, modern modular structures are also easy to clean without any recurring costs.  

If we consider the ascendance of a design-based approach in product design, RWH has been slow to catch on. This gap has been closing rapidly in recent years with the focus shifting towards innovation in design, material, and technology. A design-based approach empowers communities to recharge their groundwater supply, improve the TDS quality of the water, and gain sustainability.