Improving social housing starts with smart technology

Digital innovation and technology are accelerating at a speed once never imagined.

Almost every organisation and sector is now embracing a digital-first future, given the power technology holds to enhance operations and unlock new opportunities. While arguably the pandemic was a catalyst for the fast-forward button to be pushed on digital advances, we are now truly starting to see the impact of its benefits on creating cleaner environments and improving health and wellbeing of citizens.

This is particularly true within the housing sector, where the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and smart technology is rapidly coming into play.

With more than 1,600 social housing providers now active across the UK, I am encouraged to see many starting to realise the impact IoT technology has on improving the quality of homes. The IoT revolution has, importantly, focused on improving the day-to-day lives of residents with the implementation of sensors which can help avoid life-threatening issues within the home, such as severe damp and mould. Motion sensors are being used to recognise when vulnerable residents may be at risk, alerting the appropriate authorities quickly and enabling them to intervene before it’s too late.

A significant proportion of social housing sector tenants are classed as vulnerable, and providers have a duty of care to ensure that housing is both affordable and promotes positive health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, many neglected properties across the country are falling into disrepair and are, quite simply, not suitable to live in. Combine this with the current housing crisis and the acute demand for homes, and we have a big problem. In my opinion, that’s where the power of IoT can be harnessed.

Most recently, North has been working with Glasgow City Council and registered social landlords, West of Scotland Housing Association and Southside Housing Association, to implement an innovative IoT pilot scheme. A cross-section of homes now feature state-of-the-art sensors that will monitor the temperature and humidity levels in these properties.

By sharing real-time data through IoT Scotland, Scotland’s IoT network with Glasgow City Council and the registered social landlords, moisture conditions are recorded and analysed every 30 minutes, meaning the local authority and housing associations can now proactively intervene and minimise or even better avoid issues including damp and mould, which can cause property damage and a host of health issues.

From a commercial perspective, this will significantly improve the available pipeline for fit-for-purpose homes in the city, as well as save thousands of pounds in costly and disruptive repair bills. Recent research conducted by Intelligens Consulting demonstrates that investment into IoT solutions in social housing can break even within four years or less.

I am confident that over the next year we will continue to see a significant increase in the number of social housing providers realise the power IoT holds and implement smart technology in homes. Its role in creating healthier and happier homes is evident and I am proud to help create a force for good in communities that will have a lasting impact for generations to come.