How The Internet of Things Will Transform The Social Housing Sector

Accessibility to properties, excessive maintenance costs, and tenant safety continue to be some of the most difficult challenges faced by the UK’s social housing sector, so with the rollout of the smart home technology imminent, the Internet of Things (IoT) could be the answer to freeing up money, time and resources for registered providers.

With the collection of real-time data, detailed appliance monitoring with intelligent self-diagnosis, and clever integrated IoT automation, the social housing sector is set for transformation and early predictions suggest it could save local authorities and housing associations millions of pounds.

Boiler efficiency and self-diagnosis

Remote boiler monitoring means that potential boiler faults can be predicted in advance.

If the boiler is not running at the function levels of efficiency expected, HomeCoverPlan’s smart boiler and thermostat can self-diagnose exactly what is going wrong and issue a warning before a more serious problem occurs. By detailing the problem and potential timescale to a more serious problem developing, the issue is addressed in its early stages allowing preventative action to be taken thereby avoiding property damage and consequential repair costs.

Landlords will get alerts straight to their smartphone remotely anywhere, any time through the HomeCoverPlan app; issues are addressed as early as possible avoiding tenants being left without heat and hot water. This early intervention means that emergency call-outs, and the costs and time associated, are significantly reduced tackling unwanted eventualities before they happen. Plus, an efficient boiler means lower energy bills for the tenant.

Landlords can track the functionality of every boiler in every property they manage through one app on their smartphone. The capacity to fix problems before they arise and the ability to save money on energy bills means the tenant-landlord relationship will be much more positive too.

Avoiding unwanted eventualities

It’s not just boilers that are monitored either. Health and safety breaches by landlords can now be charged in civil penalties of up to £30,000. Between 2011-2016, there was a crackdown on rogue landlords, which led to over 5,000 landlords being investigated potentially leading to prosecution and more than 70,000 properties being inspected. (Oneserve)

Installing a smoke or carbon monoxide detector has always been straightforward, but now with smart home technology, there is an advanced level of safety. Currently, a siren will sound, and an alarm will flash if smoke or carbon monoxide is detected but only the tenant will know about it, and that’s only if they’re at home. Now, with IoT technology, if smoke, carbon monoxide or a flood is detected, the landlord will get a notification to their smartphone instantly, the lightbulbs can be changed to another colour automatically as a warning sign, and the gas or water system will shut off automatically instantly eliminating the threat protecting the property and more importantly, tenants’ lives.

According to the BBC, in the past five years, local authorities in England have paid out more than £35m in compensation and legal fees to people living in ‘unfit’ homes.

Fuel poverty

There were 17,000 deaths last winter caused by cold homes. Dangerously low temperatures and frozen pipes have led to a fuel poverty epidemic in recent years, but clever use of IoT controls can instruct the boiler to regulate room temperature, ventilation and air quality minimising the build-up of mould and mildew caused by damp conditions, particularly useful in void property too.

Furthermore, a smart home offers tenants more control over their usage; only using energy in the areas where and when they need to with the option of capping costs per month to optimise energy usage and save money on bills. The HomeCoverPlan app produces data that can be used to continually advise tenants on how they can use energy more efficiently and save money in the process. In the long term, this advanced level of control could lead to improved health amongst tenants.

Effective housing stock management

Despite the rise in empty homes for a consecutive year (to 216,000, accounting for £53.6bn of property in England according to Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government), void property management has always been a difficult challenge for landlords to overcome, if at least for the lack of WIFI, but that’s no longer a problem – WIFI isn’t essential with a smart home system from HomeCoverPlan. Sim cards are installed in each appliance meaning that the data is recorded so can be accessed at any time; ideal to detect smoke, flood and carbon monoxide.

Landlords can also receive an alert straight to their smartphone if an intrusion or any unusual activity is detected. Intruders and potential squatters can be deterred or exposed with 2-way talking doorbell, video monitoring and motion sensors.

Multiple properties (of up to 100,000 heating systems) can be managed from the HomeCoverPlan app on a smartphone making it quicker, easier and more efficient from an administrative perspective. It will also be easier to ensure that compliance standards are being met all with the touch of a screen, making managing housing stock seamless.

Return on investment

Local authorities who have already begun rolling out IoT are reporting massive return on investment, namely an estimated 600% on a project in Renfrewshire, Scotland. (Digit)

For the future, the data collected from the Internet of Things technology will provide insights into people’s behaviour and habits meaning services and appliances can be tailored specifically to each individual. Plus, early detection leading to an improved standard of living means that tenants’ health and wellbeing is improved too.

Following the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire and Brexit looming, the spotlight is on registered providers to overcome major challenges, and paramountly, protect their tenants’ welfare. For registered providers, the latest smart home technological advances will mean smarter asset management and from a business perspective, free up money, time and resources. Wider implications of deploying IoT include contributing to the protection of the environment with increased energy efficiency and providing real-time data that will lead to further technological advances. Effectively, landlords are future-proofing their business.

IoT technology might be new, but it is an innovation that has robust evidence of return on investment with its practicality, functionality and efficiency. It doesn’t just look modern; it actually improves everyday living (and is probably more affordable than you think it is.)

Unlike other companies, HomeCoverPlan can deliver an end-to-end solution; from the smart devices, installation and integration, to the ongoing support, 24/7 monitoring, AND the app that connects it all together. For a free no-obligation quote of your complete smart home system or a chat about your requirements, call or email us.

If you are a landlord with elderly tenants, take a look at our previous blog post on ways that older people can benefit from a smart home.

5 Ways A Smart Home Supports Your Elderly Relatives

Advances in smart home technology mean that everyone can benefit from a more connected home, but with an ageing population, a smart home could be an invaluable resource to improve the health and wellbeing of your elderly family members.

With one in five people in the UK aged 65 and over, a quarter of us have a duty of care to a senior family member, and most of us are worried about things that might happen to them in their more vulnerable stage of life.

As people get older, mobility and efficiency in everyday life naturally decrease; our bones get more fragile, aches and pains rifer, forgetfulness more common. So, wouldn’t it be great if our older family members could take back some of the independence they’ve lost, or delay it being lost in the first place?

Smart home technology can work to support greater individual choice and autonomy through the intelligent use and interconnection of devices and appliances, and we’ll tell you how.

 

  1. Enhanced everyday tasks.

On the very basic levels, we want to ensure our elderly family members have control over their environment with adequate lighting, heating, and entertainment to ensure their basic needs are met.

They might already have this, but these somewhat simple processes for able adults can be improved with the ability to control lighting with customised settings, for example, the room light to be turned off, curtains drawn and lamp turned on when it starts to get dark, or even for the central heating to be turned on with the Alexa voice assistant while they’re engrossed in their favourite TV programme, saving them the walk to the thermostat. Their home is very often where they spend most of their time so creating a comfortable sanctuary is key.

  1. Disasters prevented before they happen.

Carbon monoxide, flood and smoke sensors can detect danger before it occurs with alarms being activated, and alerts sent to your smart device. If the levels of carbon monoxide, gas or water become dangerous, the smart home system will automatically shut off the gas or water in the house with valve controllers to try to prevent the disaster from worsening.

We all forget things, no matter what age we are. Perhaps the oven wasn’t switched off after cooking, or they forgot to lock the door. From your smart device, you can switch off any appliances that aren’t being used, or lock their front door remotely, no matter where you are. Safety can be maximised further by setting up Amazon’s personal assistant, Alexa, to alert a care network when there is an emergency.

When, for example, your elderly relative says “help” to Alexa, a primary caregiver is notified, and if they can’t be reached, the next listed caregiver is alerted; useful if your relative is prone to falls. It’s possible to customise your smart home security and automation with a wide range of personalised options and settings. For example, you can be notified when your loved one leaves the house, or when there is a prolonged period of inactivity which could indicate a fall, or even indicate depression if they’re spending more time than usual in bed.

  1. Protected, even while they sleep.

Around-the-clock monitoring means that any unusual or potentially dangerous activity is detected quickly, and protection continues even when sleeping. Not only this, but thanks to artificial intelligence, certain devices and appliances actually learn behaviour meaning that it’s possible to notice if your elderly family member hasn’t risen from bed in their usual time slot, or even detecting that the fridge hasn’t been opened today. Have they forgotten to eat? As their caretaker, you are alerted of any unusual activity so you can call in to check they’re okay. You can check when they’ve arrived home from the shops and get peace of mind instantly.

Video monitoring can ensure that your loved ones are safe, plus check that any caregivers are attending to your loved one with the appropriate dignity and respect. Sometimes elderly relatives need to keep moving; after all, it’s good to stay active, which is where the 24-hour-monitored pendant comes in handy too. The pendant, that comes with the Elderly Care Plan from HomeCoverPlan allows for caregivers to be alerted if they fall at home or away.

Man with ipad and drink

  1. Boosted level of security.

Ensure your elderly relatives are safe at home with doorbell monitoring. If any bogus or unwanted sales callers ring the doorbell, your loved one can see who’s there on their smart device before they answer their door, as can you from your smart device. Either one of you can speak to any visitors with 2-way talking to discover whether their services are welcome, or perhaps just to tell the postman to leave their parcel with a neighbour is no-one is home.

  1. Reminded and entertained to boost everyday living.

Unfortunately, as we get older, forgetfulness becomes more commonplace. Some older people are diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s; all of which can hinder safety and security. Amazon’s Alexa is ideal to remind your elderly relatives to take medication, have something to eat or drink more water.

Aside from gentle nudges, Alexa is perfect for playing their favourite TV programmes or music. They could even listen to the latest news headlines or audiobooks; especially useful for those affected by sight loss.

 

Whilst older people aren’t as familiar with modern digital technology, let alone smart home technology, with the help of their loved ones, they can feel supported living independently. Following the initial set up carried out professionally by an installer, smart home technology works seamlessly in the background without the homeowner having to do much at all.

The Elderly Care Plan is completely customisable so levels of privacy and surveillance can be controlled. Perhaps video monitoring isn’t necessary, but motion detection is. Some older people prefer to stay active having manual control over their devices. Any appliance can be armed or disarmed with a setting that suits you. The Elderly Care Plan from HomeCoverPlan aims to support individual needs and requirements plus the terms remain flexible throughout. We understand things change so we won’t tie you down to any contracts.

It’s difficult to lose independence, no matter what stage of life you are at, and many older people often want as little disruption to their lives as possible.

Not only would smart home security and automation give you peace of mind knowing your loved ones have more support, but it will also make your elderly relatives less vulnerable, enhance their quality of life and boost their independence. It’s life as they know it, just better.

 

A similar HomeCoverPlan could also work for people with disabilities or life-limiting health conditions. For more information on this and more, call 0800 083 5779, or email info@homecoverplan.co.uk.