It was in the early 2010s that IoT began to make headlines; new technologies were created with built-in sensors that allowed them to learn about and adapt to their environment. From there things began to take off.
By 2019, IoT was becoming a mainstream part of the technology landscape in the social housing sector, as housing providers across the country began to take seriously the potential benefits of this technology. But it was during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic that it became clear that IoT would become a vital part of the social housing sector. With country-wide lockdowns and restrictions, housing providers were encountering difficulties accessing their properties and keeping in touch with their tenants. Through the use of IoT technology, providers were able to monitor and maintain their properties on a remote basis which helped address concerns over rising disrepair claims and LGSR compliance concerns.
So, what are the main benefits of IoT technologies?
IoT improves the overall connectivity of a property. From the perspective of a housing provider, IoT offers them more comprehensive data about their stock that can be analysed and used to identify underlying problems within a home. This allows providers to make proactive repairs rather than reactive ones. There are benefits for the residents too, when correctly utilised, IoT can make a property more accessible to those living with disabilities. Certain technologies allow residents to closely monitor the internal conditions of a property and make changes accordingly, making tenants more autonomous. In this way, this simple method of controlling household conditions can completely change the quality of life for those with disabilities. The use of certain IoT devices, such as Switchee’s Smart Thermostat, can lead to reduced energy bills for residents and result in more efficient energy use.
The central benefit of IoT technology is that it allows housing providers to understand how their properties are performing. For many providers, the task of monitoring thousands of properties is seemingly impossible. This leads to many areas being overlooked or properties being thrown together in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that has proved itself ineffective. The introduction of IoT technology gives Housing Providers the tools to understand internal property conditions, ensuring that the properties are well-maintained and that residents are able to enjoy a safe and comfortable home.
But how does this help housing providers achieve their goals?
In installing IoT technologies, housing providers have the ability to hardwire their homes so they can predict when these repairs will be needed, making the overall management of their stock more efficient. This data driven approach helps ensure that all properties fall in line with government standards, such as the Fitness for Human Habitation bill, and reduces the risk of litigation by flagging up areas of concern before they become a problem. These advancements also reduce the amount of administration needed when arranging for maintenance visits; the need for letters, repeat phone calls or multiple property visits are greatly reduced, saving providers time and effort. With IoT technologies such as the Smart Thermostat offered here at Switchee, providers can send information directly to the tenant via the device and get confirmation once the resident has read the message. This generates strong lines of communication between providers and residents, thereby reducing the chances of no-access maintenance visits which could lead to a compliance concern.
For housing providers, having access to the types of data they have needed for years has allowed them to make the right decisions, remotely. The information gathered by IoT devices has many upfront benefits such as lower energy bills for residents and it can optimise energy usage within a household which helps providers push toward their long-term goals. Whether this be tackling rising rates of Fuel Poverty within the UK, by helping ensure that residents have access to an adequately heated home without inflating their fuel bill or pushing toward the 2050 Net Zero goals.
IoT technologies have the potential to change the way those in social housing provide services to residents and manage their stock, improving upon engagement and making properties safer for tenants.