Student accommodation can be an arduous task. The Student Accommodation Observatory will help students who are looking for accommodation in the academic year 2020/2021. Guilherme Farinha, Mário Gamas, João Januário and Gonçalo Abreu, Técnico alumni and founders of Alfredo AI, are involved in this project.
The idea of creating the Student Accommodation Observatory came from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, and it soon became clear that the technological capacity of Alfredo AI would be a precious help. “We finished our courses and left Técnico not so long ago, so we are aware of this problem and we know how we can help. We are interested in projects that have a positive social impact and we consider the observatory an excellent opportunity”, explains Gonçalo Abreu, Técnico alumnus and CEO of Alfredo AI. Student Unions and Social Action Services of Universities and Polytechnic Institutes actively collaborate in this project.
The search is made by city and includes a map of the different city places, showing the rental amount and the number of available rooms, but also the average rental price and graphs showing price trends over time. Approximately 150 thousand advertisements are monitored monthly, and the analysis of the private accommodation is made through the collection of public sources of information, such as real estate portals and agencies, in a total of more than 20 different platforms. Data collection is carried out daily and involves about 14,000 rooms, distributed across 163 municipalities and 452 parishes. The platform also shows the public student halls of residence comprising more than 15 thousand beds.
“It was very important for us that the platform fulfilled the needs of the various players in the market, whether they are students or higher education institutions”, says João Januário, who also recalls :“This platform results from a collaboration and feedback from different members of academic community”.
“Our priority, from a technical point of view, is to guarantee the quality of the information we provide, as well as its updating in real time with a higher level of detail than that of the parish”, says Mário Gamas. “The platform was designed from scratch, as we usually do, because it is the only way to guarantee the necessary flexibility to meet the requirements of all people involved”, adds the alumnus.
Apart from meeting the needs of young people, “the Student Accommodation Observatory is a unique platform at European level”, points out Guilherme Farinha. “There is no other statistical support tool for student accommodation. We knew that there were some Portuguese higher education institutions that had their own platforms”, says the alumnus. This platform aims “to bring transparency to the real estate market at national level and to complement the local initiatives”, says Guilherme Farinha.
All the technology used is based on Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, and on the knowledge and skills of the four Técnico alumni. “We believe that all the knowledge and skills we acquired at IST have been vital for the creation of this platform”, stresses Mário Gamas.
“We hope this platform will help many students. Our main goal right from the beginning was to bring transparency to the real estate market and this platform is in line with our goal”, says João Januário.
Guilherme Farinha highlights “this platform is a reinforcement of all the effort that has been made with real estate mediation and financial institutions, strengthening Alfredo AI’s position in the real estate market analysis”.