MethMinder, a Kiwi company, with the help of Vodafone, has come up with a way for landlords to monitor the manufacturing of methamphetamine – from a distance.
The manufacture of methamphetamine (otherwise known as ‘P’) is becoming increasingly common in New Zealand and it’s becoming not just a social problem, but also a financial one. More and more residential landlords are finding themselves at the sharp edge of this pernicious practice, with rental properties (including holiday homes) being commonly used as P-labs.
At the same time, developments in machine-to-machine technology (M2M) is allowing for communication between digital devices, connecting a wealth of other devices in exciting and fascinating ways.
New Zealand innovation MethMinder is a great example of how M2M technology can be used to address a social need –
in this case, the manufacture of methamphetamine (or P). It’s a unique drug detection system consisting of a tamper-proof box that sits on the ceiling of a rental property and monitors the air for traces of meth chemicals. As soon as meth cooking is detected, the system sends an alert via Vodafone’s network.
Because the system is independent of mains and telephone cables, it can stay on the job for up to five years.
Dodgy would-be tenants know there’s no chance of getting away with the crime, so they don’t even bother moving in.
Miles Stratford, brand director for MethMinder, says that Vodafone’s M2M technology has been invaluable in the development of the innovation.
“We contacted Vodafone, as well as other service providers, in 2008 when we were developing the product,” Stratford says.
“The service they offered was far superior to anything else available.”
MethMinder works via Vodafone’s GPRS network to provide constant information to a central computer. If meth ingredients are sensed, an alert is sent via email and text to the company, who then contact the landlords.
The battery operated system also sends notifications if the battery is low, and to confirm that installation has been successful.
MethMinder boxes have been installed nationwide, from Invercargill to Northland.
The success of the product has been such that another service has been launched – MethSolutions – which tests properties for meth residues. And the company will continue to work with Vodafone to help provide a much-needed solution to this growing problem.
Stratford says MethMinder stands to solve a huge problem for residential landlords.
“Once a house is permeated with toxic residue, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars to be cleaned up. The toxic chemicals, if not detected, can also cause a raft of health issues for new tenants. In some extreme cases houses have to be pulled down – and insurance cover is not guaranteed."