Around the time the 2020 COVID lockdown started we had a spate of burglaries in our neighbourhood. Not super smart or successful as nearly everyone was at home, so the chap found himself getting chased down the street on more than one occasion – but it was unsettling nevertheless.
When lockdown happened, all of our local government work evaporated – it was humbling to realise how little the promise of smart cities mattered at that point in time, and I think a great number of talented teccies had to cope with a collapsing ego and recognise what the really important work was. Suddenly nurses, carers, corner shops and postal workers were in the headlines and the rest of us could only applaud their efforts at keeping us going.
With most of our work disappearing I had to decide what to do with my developers, Traecy and Vil. Rather than furlough them I thought that maybe we could do something to help our neighbourhood.
We carried out some user research with the residents of my neighbourhood, to explore how they felt about the burglaries and whether IoT technology might be able to help.
From this research, Did I Lock Up? was born.
Did I Lock Up? – or DILU as we got used to saying is an app for your phone that shows you whether your back door, garage, shed, storage unit, bike, van etc. are currently secure.
If the shed door is open, then the icon lights up red to warn you. Of course if you are at home cutting the grass then it’s no surprise your shed is open. But if it is 3am, or if you are away from home and the shed door suddenly opens then DILU will send an alert to your phone, so you know right away.
Now, if you are away from home, there’s not much you can do about someone breaking into your shed. That’s why DILU lets you allow trusted friends/neighbours to see your home as well as their own on the app, and you can ask them to investigate any alerts they receive on your behalf.
At a glance view that everything at home is ok. If anything is wrong you’ll get notified and the icon will turn red.
You can also keep an eye on your friends home while they are away.
You know who you trust to keep an eye on your home when you aren’t around to do it. You help them and they help you.
Jus choose when you want friends to be notified of any alerts, and then turn it off when you get home.
Always out late on Fridays? Home early on Tuesdays? Set the security system to automatically turn on and off at times that suit your lifestyle.
At the airport and realise you forgot to set the alarm? Relax, we’ve got you.
The user interface was designed by Emma Bradley, who also designed the Thingitude logo and graphics.
I met Emma whilst judging final degree projects at Birmingham City University – a hotbed of upcoming IoT and AI talent. Emma’s project was a fantastic app to help people cope with anxiety, which ended up being a prize-winner.
I was impressed by how thoroughly she had researched the business opportunity and user needs, and thought she might be able to help us out. She took my brief, and sketchy diagrams, and dragged a clearer picture out of me. The end result is really clear and works beautifully. We love it!
The app was developed by Vil and I in React, and Traecy and I wrote the back-end in Go – my favourite programming language. Vil also figured out all the DevOps side of things for us, so now we have a really good workflow from development into production.
Reading (in fact most of Berkshire) is blessed with great network coverage from The Things Network – thanks to the LEP/council funded Smart City Cluster project that we have been involved in for the past few years.
I am really pleased we created DILU rather than furlough the team during lockdown. We learned new techniques, we put our IoT skills to good use, and we love building solutions that help make aspects of peoples’ lives that little bit easier. Plus we have a new product to show off! As well as my neighbours homes, DILU is being used to keep the Reading Hydro construction site and turbine house secure.