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Mobile application and dashboard development for a company that improves in-building mobile signal

Increased the accuracy of in-building mobile signal quality data and accelerated data collection by 4 times

Industry

IT

Region

UK

Year

2024

Services
Backend
Design
Frontend
Technologies
Kotlin
Laravel
React Native
Vue.js
Complexity
Network Analitics cover
Development time

10 months

Team

1 PM, 3 Frontend, 2 Backend, 1 QA

Project status

The project continues to evolve and scale

About the client

Uctel Company from the UK develops solutions to improve indoor mobile signal.

The company’s clients are owners of commercial and corporate buildings (offices, warehouses, shopping malls, hospitals, etc.). Their tenants, employees and customers pay special attention to the quality of the signal in the premises. Stable mobile communication in buildings is a significant competitive advantage in this market.

To properly install signal enhancement equipment, Uctel: 

  1. inspects the premises and collects data on the signal quality at each point for each mobile operator,
  2. analyzes this data, 
  3. develops a plan for the equipment placement,
  4. installs the equipment and starts the system. 

At the time of the request, the client did not have a convenient tool for the first three steps.

Client’s situation

The client used third-party programs and applications to examine the signal quality. The solutions were expensive, but there was not enough functionality for correct data collection. In addition, the data was difficult to analyze, since they were not collected in one place. A lot of things had to be done manually.

Task

In order for the client to stop paying for inconvenient third-party solutions, we develop an application with the necessary functions for surveying premises and a dashboard for collecting, displaying and analyzing the data.

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Solution

Mobile application 

Collects data on signal quality and sorts them for different clients, buildings and floors. 

The application was developed on React Native. Kotlin language and Android platform methods were used to obtain the signal data.

Dashboard

Presents data from the application in a convenient format.

The dashboard was developed in Laravel+ Vue.js . Databases and documentation of Swagger methods were used to link the application and the dashboard.

Simon Kataev PM
Simon Kataev
Project Manager

It was, perhaps, one of the most interesting and complex projects we have worked on. At the start of the project, the client described only in general terms the necessary functionality and showed a reference that he wanted to repeat and improve. During the development process, additional requirements and tasks emerged. It caused difficulties in the quick implementation of the project.  It’s a good thing that the client didn’t rush us too much with deadlines. We have developed the MVP version of the application, and all additional functionality has been postponed to the 2nd and 3rd stages of development. 

We have never delved so deeply into the phone’s network data and the network state during mobile development. We needed to find, collect and display all possible signal data in the interface, while regularly updating their values. It was also necessary to add speed test calculation, and collect all this data from client devices on the server. For all this list of tasks, it was necessary to outline a large number of libraries and methods that we had not worked with before, as well as write custom handlers in Java and Kotlin. 

Among the key difficulties at the stage of developing code for the network we can highlight the lack of native methods in Android, as well as the irrelevance and incompatibility of ready-made libraries. For example, we couldn’t find a compatible library for the speed test, so we had to develop a self-written solution. 

The main case of using the application by the client is in buildings with poor signal coverage. It caused a separate cycle of difficulties with supporting work with a weak Internet, like 2G, fully offline and saving data when closing the application. And we needed to store quite a lot of data. For example, a client could conduct several interactive plans without the Internet, each of which contained hundreds of data points, notes and photos. As a result, there could be quite a lot of offline data that we needed to synchronize with the dashboard when the Internet appeared. 

When developing the dashboard, the technologies themselves were simpler, but there were no less difficulties. It turned out that the client needs not just to collect data from the application and display it on the server, but also to create and edit it on the dashboard itself. Accordingly, there has been developed full functionality for creating, editing and deleting data on both: on the dashboard and on the application. Including the interactive plan. 

The most difficult tasks on the dashboard were the creation of an interactive floor plan designer (with connecting cables, coverage areas, etc.), as well as the generation of complete reports on measurements in PDF format. But we have fully implemented this functionality.

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Features of the mobile application

Screens for managing records

Record management screens

Creating and managing object records

The user can manage records about clients, buildings, floors and add new surveys.

Options for adding a floor plan

Options for adding a floor plan

Adding a floor plan from the app

You can upload a ready-made plan or take a photo right on the spot.

Screens for data collection

Data collection screens

Collecting indoor signal data

The user moves through the rooms on the floor and places data collection points in the application. When the point is set, data is collected from all devices and a point is registered for the server device. You can add a comment and a photo of the place to each point.

Point types in the application

Types of points in the application

Marking data collection points with icons

Depending on the signal quality and connection type, each point is marked with an icon. For example, the point is indicated by a green triangle if a certain telecom operator at the measured point had a 3G connection type and very good signal quality.

By pressing the button, you can complete the examination and send the data

By pressing the button, you can complete the examination and send the data

Sending data to the dashboard

After all the data is collected, click the check mark, and the survey is completed. The data will be sent to the dashboard, where it can be viewed and managed in detail.

Types of Displayed Parameters

Types of parameters

Data update every second

The signal parameters are displayed in the application in real time.

SpeedTest Functionality

Functionality for SpeedTest

Built-in data transfer speed test

Methods for collecting signal data and self-written SpeedTest functionality were developed specially for the project. Users can perform data transfer speed tests without leaving the application.

Bluetooth Integration Screen

Bluetooth integration screen

Connecting multiple phones

In the application you can simultaneously connect several mobile devices to the main one. This allows you to receive data on the communication of 4 mobile operators at once. All surveys are conducted from the main (server) device. Other devices (client devices) connected to the main device via Bluetooth, serve as signal receivers and are controlled from the main panel of the main device. This speeds up data collection and allows you to get a complete picture of the quality of mobile communication in the building.

Dashboard features

User Profile

User’s personal account

Personal account

You can log in to the dashboard and manage your personal data, customer data, and surveys.

Light and Dark Interface Themes

Dark and light interface theme design

Light and dark theme

We have developed a dark theme to make the application convenient to use in poorly lit rooms.

Nested List Structure

Structure of nested lists

Convenient data structure

A nested list structure is used to provide a complex hierarchical data system:

– customers;
– list of client’s buildings;
– list of floors;
– floor plan and survey data.

Interactive Plans with Signal Data

Interactive Plans with Signal Data

The full picture of the signal on interactive plans

Based on the survey, data on four telecom operators is collected on the dashboard. The user has the opportunity to:

– get complete data on the quality and strength of the signal;
– compare the data at each point;
– evaluate the quality of communication in order to place the equipment most effectively.

Stages of work

01.

Design

The application design was developed on prototypes with algorithms of actions, and then adjusted with the color scheme, UI kit and all the necessary details. The dashboard design was assembled without a prototype in the development process.

02.

Application development

The mobile application was developed using the React Native framework. The Kotlin programming language and Android platform-specific methods were used to collect signal data. Thus, we have created a high-performance application that supports Android and provides access to native Android features for more efficient signal data collection.

03.

Dashboard development

The dashboard was developed using the Laravel framework for the backend and Vue.js for the frontend. We used a blank interface and methods from another project. This has significantly reduced the time for dashboard development. 

Databases were used to exchange data between the mobile application and the dashboard. Swagger was used to document methods and APIs. This solution made the development process more transparent, facilitated interaction between the developers of the application and the dashboard, and simplified the integration and maintenance of the system.

04.

Testing

For full testing, we took several Android devices and several SIM cards with the Internet. We did tests on the Bluetooth connection of devices, SpeedTest measurements, tested the signal on different types of network (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G). In the process, the testers moved around the room, found areas with a bad signal and marked them. Then we tested all the application data in the dashboard.

Results

  1. The process of building survey for the communication quality has been accelerated 4 times

    Due to the possibility of connecting several additional devices to the server, the specialist can simultaneously receive data on the quality of communication of 4 operators. This helps to measure signals at each point more accurately without switching to third-party services in the process.  

  2. Simplified and accelerated the work with data

    Now all data is collected according to the standard and automatically transferred to the dashboard. The user no longer needs to combine them from different sources and process them manually. Data from the dashboard can be analyzed, its content can be managed, new data can be created and edited.

  3. Improved the quality of Uctel customer service

    Now the company has functionality that will help them develop the layout of equipment for signal amplification faster and more efficiently.

  4. Reduced expenses

    The client no longer needs to buy inconvenient solutions for work. He has all the necessary functions in his own application.

  5. We continue to cooperate and introduce new features

    We are currently working on creating an equipment designer that will allow Uctel to place the necessary elements directly on the plan and connect them with cables.

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