Social housing customers in the South West are set to benefit from an exciting new smart technology project, developed by charitable housing association BCHA in partnership with IoT platform provider Daizy Tech Ltd.
IoT (Internet of Things) is a new technology that can help social housing organisations maintain their assets more effectively and efficiently by gathering relevant data from discreet sensors installed within properties, and turning that data into actionable information.
Following a successful trial in 2020, BCHA is currently installing Legionella IoT sensor devices in a number of its properties, which will monitor the water temperature. Previously this would have been dealt with by a contractor visiting the home on a monthly basis.
The information is fed into a single management platform provided by Daizy and the data is then made available to BCHA through a single Application Programming Interface (API), a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. The data is then processed into a simple actionable task for BCHA’s asset management team to carry out.
There are numerous benefits to BCHA harnessing IoT technology, including:
- Operational efficiency
- Removing unnecessary call outs and a decrease in the number of physical visits
- Prioritising maintenance
- Automating compliance reporting
- Better customer relationships
- Creating safer living environments
- Providing tenant access to property performance information
- Business innovation
- Removal of unnecessary business processes
- Creating a more efficient work force – fewer visits, less tenant disturbance
- A greener approach to providing services
Commenting on the use of IoT technology in BCHA social housing, Martin Hancock, BCHA’s Chief Executive, said:
“We are always looking for new initiatives to improve our customer and team health and safety, and it is no surprise that the advances in technology over the past decade have a big part to play in making a difference. The introduction of IoT technology has enabled businesses to be more proactive in their approach, creating revenue streams and saving on costs. The real-time data improves monitoring and reduces the need for physical presence, something that has become all the more relevant in present times.
“BCHA manages around 1300 units and we are keen to see each and every customer benefit from one or more smart devices in their home. As each home is different in many ways we’re in the early stages of visualising how this looks right now, however as each solution is explored we will be able to share a more detailed plan. For example, the Legionella Water Temperature Devices are currently in scaled roll out. We have successfully installed 94 devices over 26 shared accommodation sites, the next phase of the project starting shortly will see 63 devices installed in 23 sites followed by 152 devices in 32 sites in the final phases - all to be installed this year.”
The plan for the future is to identify other IoT solutions that can meet the needs of BCHA’s diverse range of properties located throughout the South West, which are made up of different property and customer types.
The following problems have been identified as having potential to be supported by an IoT solution:
- Damp and mould - damp issues are identified by a customer informing us or a property inspection, often when it has already caused damage. Early prevention would improve customer health and reduce repair / replacement costs.
- Fuel poverty/utilities – customers often don’t know how to reduce their utility costs – being able to help identify those in need would help improve customer welfare.
- Locks – digital locks allow temporary access to be given to contractors, housing officers or visitors and would help to reduce BCHA’s carbon footprint.
- Fire alarm and emergency lighting testing – this would enable BCHA to spot and resolve issues more quickly, meaning improved safety for customers and provide time saving benefits for staff
- Leak prevention/water usage - Small leaks can often go unnoticed causing increased utility costs and potential damage to a building. Being able to monitor water use will identify a spike where one was not expected, allowing us to intervene before damage occurs.
There are many device options on the market, which BCHA will be exploring. However, the following are ones that we are looking into currently:
- Temperature and humidity Sensors - to help identify risk of damp and mould and allow for early intervention.
- Smart smoke detectors - for some of our more vulnerable customers, being alerted when their smoke detector goes off will help provide peace of mind and enable us to communicate with them quickly.
- Smart Locks - keys can be a nuisance for both our customers and team members, there are many options are out there with varying functionality so we’re looking into which may work best in our buildings.
BCHA is actively seeking IoT device manufacturers/potential suppliers who are able to work with the existing infrastructure in providing IoT solutions. For more information, please contact Hayley Lloyd, BCHA Digital Projects Co-ordinator on: 07971 640969. Em: firstname.lastname@example.org
Manufacturers/suppliers can find more information within the project's Request for Information on the BCHA website.
Martin Hancock added:
“We are delighted to be embarking on a journey into smart technology in partnership with neighbouring IoT company Daizy Tech LTD. There are many benefits to using smart tech in our homes, from compliance accuracy to safeguarding our more vulnerable customers. We are committed to making our homes smart, so much so that we have this written into our five-year business plan as a leading goal. We are now keen to explore what the IoT market has to offer that ticks all of our boxes, keeping the customer at the heart of what we do.
Daizy CEO, David Ffoulkes-Jones, said:
“It is only by making the deployment, management and the access to data super consumable that IoT-enabled services will deliver on their huge potential. This partnership allows BCHA to maintain control by using the Daizy platform in their IoT strategy. This is one part of the digital transformation programme BCHA are embarking on, but we are very proud to be doing our bit and showing how IoT can scale in the enterprise.”