CrowdComfort is a building management platform for web and mobile that enables building owners, operators, and occupants to crowd-source and manage reports and issues via smartphone.
The mobile app allows occupants to report maintenance and comfort requests, and the platform converts information into time stamped and geolocated heat maps through a portal that organizes management of building operations.
A Realtime Platform
As with any collaborative application, realtime updating and syncing of data is essential. In CrowdComfort’s case, requests and issues submitted by users needed to be synced across the entire platform, and reports needed to update in realtime.
“The ability to sync the data between all our web and mobile assets in real-time is a key selling point for our solution. We are simply trying to reinvent the way building occupants communicate with facility managers and service providers. The power of instant notification between all those assets and user personas have proven to be of a huge value to our customers,” said Abdullah Daoud, Co-founder and CTO at CrowdComfort.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Early in development, CrowdComfort recognized the challenge of building a realtime infrastructure in-house. The platform had to sync data between a thousands of web and mobile clients simultaneously in realtime. Instead of choosing to build the infrastructure themselves, CrowdComfort decided to implement a realtime data stream network to handle data streaming across clients.
“Originally, there was a period where we tried, but we learned that as a startup you should almost never try to reinvent the wheel, especially when there are experts who have already solved the problem. Building off of pre-existing stable products allows us to focus on the real solution we’re building.”
“Keeping data in sync between multiple web clients and mobile clients is a challenge. Using a traditional ‘poll-wait-poll’ approach is too data-intensive for our application, and setting up our own longpoll for changes would have been a nightmare,” said Chris Fuentes, Co-founder of CrowdComfort.
CrowdComfort chose the PubNub Data Stream Network power realtime messaging for the web and mobile clients. The platform uses PubNub for both push notifications, as well as PubNub Access Manager capabilities to create a tight, synced realtime communication loop.
“We use push notifications and access manager to deliver in and out of app notifications to our applications as well as to trigger realtime updates on our web applications.”
“We’ve actually built a unique infrastructure around the PubNub messaging service where every notification-generating action actually sends a message to a core web service that can determine not only to whom to send additional messages, but also triggers other realtime events like sending emails and updating other applications.”
With PubNub Access Manager, CrowdComfort has full control over what users receive what data, and can easily grant and revoke privileges to data. With a large volume of data being streamed and synced between the clients, fine grain control over data channels is essential for creating a reliable and accurate realtime application.
“Having this central nervous system of PubNub messages allows us to filter out in real time who should see what and alert them accordingly.”
Fast, Reliable, Collaborative
As a result of implementing PubNub, CrowdComfort has created a reliable, secure, and fast collaborative app. By using a single data stream network to power realtime functionality across the platform, CrowdComfort has significantly simplified both development of new features and maintenance of their current platform.
“Now we can easily send in and out of app notifications which lead to a better user-to-user connectivity experience, which is another key feature of CrowdComfort. Our infrastructure is also greatly simplified by having a centralized realtime notification web service, where we can keep all of the business logic of every realtime aspect of our system in one place. I don’t know how I would do that without a service like PubNub.”
For example, out-of-app iOS push notifications can be a challenge. The development and testing period is lengthy, and reliability is also an issue. Instead, CrowdComfort chose PubNub to power realtime push notifications for out-of-app users.
“A pain point PubNub solves is the simplification of out of app iOS notifications – I’m sure I could whip up a PHP app that could send notifications based on Apple’s example code, but that’s honestly one of the last things I’d want to spend my professional time doing.”