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When it comes to mobile data collection, compatibility with your AMS is key

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When it comes to mobile data collection, compatibility with your AMS is key

Lifespan Housing & Data Collection Guide

Introduction

This guide has been prepared to support Lifespan Housing Asset Management Software customers and users, in the collection and uploading of new or additional data and information into Lifespan Housing software. It is important that customers understand the need to create compatible data structures to achieve the required importing of any additional, updated or amended data into any asset management system and Lifespan Housing is no exception. The gathering and collection of data and information, for example using mobile collection devices, cannot and will not integrate automatically with an asset management system; the two must be designed as homogeneous databases. The data structures and formats of both must be compatible. For example, if one system calls a roof, a ‘pitched roof’ and the other a ‘roof pitched’ then these are incompatible and will need to be aligned for the purposes of integration.

Property Tectonics’ policy is to encourage integration and whilst we have developed our own data collection software, Lifespan Mobile, with complete compatibility to Lifespan Housing, we do not wish to restrict the market. We are therefore happy for other survey companies and the like to use our Lifespan Mobile software for example, to deliver stock condition surveys, for a reasonable charge.

Surveyors can also use other mobile collection devices of their choice. However, in order to do so care and attention must be given to ensuring that the design of the survey, its classification and nomenclature, and the data structure, are entirely compatible with Lifespan Housing otherwise the whole process will be problematic and could result in data corruption. Notwithstanding, the requirement for homogeneity, there are areas where this cannot be achieved, simply because Lifespan Housing has unique and advanced, fully integrated, features which cannot be replicated; the main one being energy (RdSAP) data.

If Lifespan Mobile is not being used to collect data then care has to be applied to the design of the data structure in each of the key modules within Lifespan Housing, to ensure that the mobile software being employed is properly configured and fit for purpose before on-site data collection commences. These are reviewed in more detail below.

Attributes

Attributes are standalone pieces of information that do not have a life cycle or a cost. These can be designed in Lifespan Housing to have a pick list or be set to a variety of different datatypes. For example, a date field will only accept dates. It is important the data to be delivered to Lifespan Housing matches the data type and use pick list values if they have been set.

All attributes and sub attributes are pre-set in the Lifespan Housing system and therefore must exist in the system design before they can be added to a URPN. Each account is custom designed for each organisation, so it is import that that each individual customer reviews and updates their survey template before they instruct external data to be collected. 

Maintenance Data

Maintenance data must be attached to the relevant attribute, therefore attributes must exist before any maintenance information can be added to it. There is a structure for the labelling and identification of attributes that is used to structure maintenance items and this needs to be followed in the delivery of maintenance information which need to be updated. Maintenance information must include quantity, cost, and action year (year of recommended replacement). There are other fields that are optional, but it is good practice to include such as condition code and priority.

All maintenance data and other attributes are pre-set and must exist in the system design before they can be added to a URPN.

Each account is again custom designed for each organisation, so it is import that that each individual customer review and update their survey template before they instruct external data collection.

Decent Homes & HHSRS

  • Linked to maintenance

Some maintenance attributes may be linked to Decent Homes. This means that the Decent Homes assessment can be updated using the maintenance information that has been collected. This should be thoroughly understood before work to update Decent homes is undertaken. Decent Homes can only automate the update of works if the maintenance information is held at the same URPN level. For example, information held against a block will not update the Decent Homes assessment for a dwelling within that block.

  • Update the decency when work is marked as completed

As work is updated in the maintenance section it is good practice, as part of the validation process, to recalculate Decent Homes. This will refresh the Decent homes information to take into account changes made to the maintenance information where the two are linked. Customers should have a good understanding of which maintenance items are linked as part of their survey design and setup process.

Energy

Energy information must be collected using Lifespan Mobile, in order to achieve the same functionality. Lifespan RdSAP is government approved energy software that can lodge directly into the government system (Landmark) to produce the statutory EPC. Notwithstanding, Lifespan Housing uses the entire energy data set, as well as the generated (lodged) data and  this allows the end user to have access to a range of analysis, interrogation and reporting which can be used alongside the rest of the asset information within Lifespan. For example, maintenance information, property assessments, energy planning, funding assessments etc. and this is one of the unique and powerful features of the Lifespan system.

There are no additional cost to use Lifespan RdSAP as it is included in the annual Housing Mobile licence. EPC’s, if lodged, are charged per lodgement however the full data set can be collected, without being lodged and still be used in the way described above.

The Government is making it increasingly difficult for organisations to have access to the full data set generated and lodged by the RdSAP engine. Lifespan RdSAP software employs the actual data collected, used in turn to lodge and produce the EPC and its xml. With Lifespan the customer has ownership of the data collected and therefore does not need to use the governments database or incur any potential costs retrieving the data from the Landmark database. If another third-party software is used to collect RdSAP data it will be incompatible with Lifespan, as every provider uses a different engine and therefore a different format. If the energy data is lodged, then the customer could retrieve the xml data and pt could bring the data into Lifespan Housing, but this is costly.

There is no import /export or API facility for the transfer of this information due to the size and complexity of the data being collected.

Fire

The fire module is designed to follow a PAS 79 structure. The assessment must be completed in its entirety. Data to be entered into the system should follow the same structure. A section of additional questions can be created, but this must be pre-set in the system design before the data can be added.

Core data must be added before the action plan and comments are added. Import and export sheets are provided with points of reference for photographs and documentation. File names must be added exactly and the documents themselves provided to Property Tectonics.

Asbestos         

The asbestos Module follows the field terminology as set out in the MDHS100 and HSG 264. There is an interface document that is available from Lifespan’s helpdesk system to support the understanding of data types and field names.

The Sample ID must be unique and cannot be duplicated anywhere in the system. Import and export sheets are provided with points of reference for photographs and documentation. File names must be added exactly and the documents themselves provided to Property Tectonics. 

Pre-populated fields and existing information

Lifespan Mobile can be pre-populated with existing information to help the surveyor make an informed decision whilst out on site. For example, where there is an existing condition code and/or completed works date this will greatly assist the surveyor in making an informed decision. When an alternative data collection method is being used this won’t be available.

Validation

Lifespan Mobile is designed with in-built validation checks for the surveyor on-site. This helps to eliminate the risk of poor, incorrect or incomplete data sets being uploaded into Lifespan Housing. A validation process should be established as part of a pilot before data is uploaded from 3rd party systems into a Lifespan Housing live account. Data uploaded directly into the live data before careful validation and data checking is extremely hazardous and could result in accurate and accumulated knowledge being completely overwritten and irretrievable.

Finally

It is vital for the success of any data collection exercise that much thought is given, prior to procurement of the commission to the design and methodologies being employed. Lifespan Housing is designed to be as flexible as possible for our customers’ needs and requirements. If you have any further questions regarding this guide or would like some help and advice, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Lifespan team at Property Tectonics.