Building Better Communities with the UK’s leading Social Housing Providers

Housing Associations, IoT, AI, big data, innovation, ML, Blockchain, Social Housing

It’s predicted that by 2020, there will be 6 connected devices for every person on earth. Wow. One sector that could seriously add to that number is Social Housing.

Connected devices make homes safer, more energy efficient and therefore cheaper to run and maintain. This presents a great opportunity for housing associations to help their customers save on energy costs, increase security and identify maintenance issues early to prevent them from becoming dangerous incidents.

Things are beginning to happen in social housing in relation to adopting new technologies, and there may be more opportunities out there than those who work in the sector realise.

That’s why we invited some of the country’s leading social housing organisations to join us, along with Microsoft for our eagerly awaited National Housing Hackathon event, designed to enable attendees to produce truly inspiring and forward-thinking solutions to real world challenges across the housing sector.

And the best part? This isn’t your typical IT event. We invited employees from across the organisation, from customer service, to transformation leaders, operations and communications and even graduates. We wanted to bring together people who might not get to work side by side each day to get different perspectives on how we can change the future of social housing with technology.

One Manchester, Golding Homes, Stockport Homes, Places for People, Aldwyck Housing and Catalyst Housing were just a few organisations that joined us on the day to explore some of the biggest challenges faced by the organisations and some of their ideas got us thinking. Let’s take a look at a few of the concepts they came up with.


One Manchester, Golding Homes and Stockport Homes – Avoidable Voids.

Housing associations in the UK have a specific challenge around void identification and prevention. The challenge impacts the organisations in a number of ways, from loss in rent, to unoccupied homes, to increased waiting lists, squatting and anti-social behaviour.

The key is to prevent the issue before it has even occurred, and technology could just be in the answer. By placing occupancy sensors in homes and retrieving the data they produce, housing associations can build user profiles which provide them with invaluable insights into how tenants are using their space and whether they are there at all.

One of the most powerful ways we can use data is making predictions, and with the power of machine learning, we can, leading to more intelligence. And with more intelligence, we can automate reminders and alerts to employees who are able to investigate customers worthy of intervention.

All this could result in a quicker turn around on re-housing, less rent loss, reduced resource dependency, improved tenant engagement and better planning for future tenants. All of which leads to increased housing standards, allowing housing associations to put more back into the community.


Places for People – No more keys with a Digital Access Platform.

It’s no secret in the housing association sector that access to managed buildings is difficult; there are far too many keys to manage and since keys and locks are replaced every time a new tenant arrives, they can be very costly too.

Places for People developed an idea for a digital access platform. Accessible by the tenant and the HA, the platform removes the need for keys and uses technology to control access to the building. The app contains lock codes that would be encrypted in the Blockchain, protecting against human error and malicious attacks. The platform would also use face recognition technology to allow for greater security and traceability for anti-social behaviour.

Not only does the digital access platform reduce maintenance costs, it offers the tenant a more seamless experience and manageability over who has access to their home and when.


Aldwyck and Catalyst Housing – Inspiring social value with kiM!

Housing associations have always been good at building houses, but building communities is a far greater challenge and this has led to an array of issues within the sector. Today, people don’t always take pride in where they live, young people often don’t have things to do, there’s no community cohesion and without a sense of community, running costs are typically higher.

Enter kiM!

Aldwyck and Catalyst Housing came up with a self-service portal, accessible by all members of the community, centred around social cohesion and engagement. The concept focuses on gamification, namely rewarding users for good behaviour and taking care of the community. The more they support one another, the more perks they receive!

Using Microsoft’s Digital Twin technology, kiM! is a simple app that has links to repairs, alerts for community issues, avatar and video interaction, links to public services and, most importantly, data capture of all interactions coupled with data analytics to deliver services more proactively into the community.

The concept hinges on the importance of social cohesion, targeting isolation, simplifying contact with housing officers and, ultimately, benefiting people from all walks of life in the community.

It’s safe to say the housing sector is moving in the right direction, with associations looking to adopt IoT, Big Data and Predictive Analytics technologies. We think the hackathon provided a great platform to discuss the future of housing, but some housing associations are already ahead of the game. Discover how Greatwell Homes is looking to smart technology to revolutionise the way they interact and provide services to their customers here.

Posted by Kate Auchterlonie