Cool Pool Tool

First-of-its-kind app for pool sharing splashes into Houston

You can rent this Rice Village-area pool for $50 an hour. Swimply.com

A new app is making a splash in Houston by enabling users to rent pools, Airbnb-style.

Swimply, which launched in Houston last month, promotes itself as the first online marketplace for pool sharing. On the app, someone searching for a cool pool to borrow can sift through offerings based on location, price, and amenities (like grills and hot tubs). A potential customer also can peruse reviews left by renters. Once a renter finds an appropriate pool, he or she then reserves it through the Swimply platform.

A review of Houston-area pools available for rent found prices ranging from $40 to $125 an hour.

For instance, a pool near Rice Village that's listed at $50 an hour is touted as feeling like "a resort in the Italian Riviera." It comes with an outdoor kitchen, hot tub, limestone floors, and even a basketball court.

For $100 an hour, you and your crew can rent a pool in Cypress, complete with a hot tub, barbecue, trampoline, bounce house, pool toys, and a margarita/slushie machine.

Swimply says prices are based on size of the pool area, as well as amenities, rental time, and rental demand. The company also notes that each pool undergoes a safety inspection prior to being listed on the app. Pool owners can use the app to purchase services like pool cleaning and maintenance before and after a renter takes a dip.

"Whether you're stuck at home with the kids, tired from a long day of work (or homework), or just bored, we want you to be able to teleport somewhere awesome with a few clicks of a button," Swimply says on its website. "We want mini-escapes to be as ordinary as visiting a café or [taking] a good nap. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, it should only take a moment from the time you want to be somewhere happier until the time you actually are."

The app launched with a pilot program in the summer of 2018 and is being rolled out nationwide this summer. Currently, there are also pools for rent in the Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio areas.

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This story originally appeared on CultureMap.com.

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Building Houston

 
 

5G could be taking over Texas — and Houston is leading the way. Photo via Getty Images

Based on one key measure, Houston sits at the forefront of a telecom revolution that could spark a regional economic impact of more than $30 billion.

Data published recently by the Texas Comptroller's Office points out that as of last November and December, Houston led all cities in Texas for the number of so-called "small cells." Small cells are a key component in the rollout of ultra-high-speed 5G wireless communication throughout the Houston area and the country.

As the Texas Comptroller's Office explains, small cells are low-powered antennas that communicate wirelessly via radio waves. They're usually installed on existing public infrastructure like street signs or utility poles, instead of the big communication towers that transmit 4G signals.

The comptroller's tally shows Houston had approved 5,455 small-cell sites as of the November-December timeframe. That dwarfs the total number of sites (1,948) for the state's second-ranked city, Dallas.

"Houston is in the vanguard of small cell permitting in Texas, and not just because it's the state's largest city; advocates have lauded its proactive approach to 5G. Other cities, particularly smaller ones, are lagging well behind," the Comptroller's Office notes.

According to CTIA, a trade group for the wireless communications industry, 5G holds the promise to deliver an economic impact of $30.3 billion in the Houston area and create 93,700 jobs. The group says industries such as health care, energy, transportation, e-commerce, and logistics stand to benefit from the emergence of 5G.

"Maintaining world-class communications infrastructure is a requirement for success in a rapidly changing global economy. Small cells and fiber technology are the key foundational components for network densification and robust 5G. Cities like Houston that have embraced the need for this infrastructure will see the benefits of 5G faster than others," Mandy Derr, government affairs director at Houston-based communications infrastructure REIT Crown Castle International Corp. and a member of the Texas 5G Alliance, tells InnovationMap.

Derr says leaders in Houston have embraced the importance of small-cell technology through "reasonable and effective" regulations and processes aimed at boosting 5G capabilities. Three major providers of wireless service — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon — offer 5G to customers in the Houston area.

"More small cells and fiber provide greater and faster access for the masses, enabling the connectivity that is essential to our businesses today — whether it's accepting payments on a mobile card reader, completing a sale on the go, or reliably reaching consumers where they are," Derr says.

In a blog post, Netrality Data Centers, which operates a data center in Houston, proclaims that Houston is shaping up to be a hub of 5G innovation.

"Houston has always been on the frontline," Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a 5G roundtable discussion in 2019. "It is who we are. It is in our DNA. We are a leading city. We didn't wait for somebody else to go to the moon. Or to be the energy capital of the world. Or the largest medical center in the world. But you don't stay at the front if you don't continue to lead."

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