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Healthier Homes initiative launched

Today (Thursday 13 May) marks the launch of the Healthier Homes initiative, and the first step is to establish which housing providers are currently using IoT or have plans to use it within the Scottish housing sector.

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By Geraldine Begg, SFHA Technology Enabled Care in Housing (TECH) Programme Co-ordinator

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a catch-all term for the growing number of everyday objects with sensors, software and technology fitted that enables them to connect to the internet. 

Frequently these ‘things’ are referred to as ‘smart’ due to their ability to connect and exchange real-time data with other devices and systems over the internet. IoT devices in properties can range from smart speakers to light bulbs, extractor fans, to smart thermostats. They can be set to trigger predetermined responses if certain conditions are met and gather and analyse data to support intelligent decision making.

Following on from trailblazers, like Maryhill Housing Association and Albyn Housing Society, increasing numbers of housing providers are considering how best to embed IoT into their practices and processes to improve the customer experience, enable more proactive approaches to asset management and service delivery, support fulfilment of regulatory requirements and help maximise independent living. 

Many of the insights that are gained from IoT can theoretically be used for multiple purposes, e.g., the temperature, CO2, and humidity data gathered from devices installed to predict the risk of damage to the fabric of the property can equally provide important insights that tenants may be experiencing challenges that could impact on their ability to live safe and well at home.

According to the independent European climate think tank, E3G: “The UK has the sixth highest long-term rate of excess winter mortality out of 30 European countries, with the majority of those deaths linked to the coldest 25% of homes in the UK, where vulnerable occupants – typically elderly people with existing health conditions – succumb to ill-health including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and fatal trip and falls. This is comparable to the number of people who die each year from alcohol-related causes or high blood pressure.”

To successfully deploy IoT for any purpose in a home, there must be a willingness from all involved for its use. 

Despite the potential for direct and indirect benefits to tenants, some recent IoT projects have run into significant difficulties. The common denominator being a lack of engagement. By engaging with tenants and colleagues from across the business, a broader, more holistic approach results in more meaningful outcomes for all involved, often leading to increased buy-in.

The TECH programme is keen to support housing providers to maximise the opportunities that IoT might bring by supporting tenants to explore the relationship between their homes and their health, promote understanding of and share experiences of IoT, and by so doing, gather attitudes and appetite for it to be used as an enabler to better living.

This work will directly support housing providers as they plan, further roll-out of IoT. It links to national agendas around EESSH, Housing for Varying Needs and the National Health and Wellbeing outcomes framework.

The TECH programme will provide a range of engagement methods, working with housing providers to shape what will work best for them. There will also be opportunities for housing providers and their tenants to collaborate on some small-scale, customer-centric IoT trials. These trials will provide an opportunity for providers and tenants to explore IoT, potential opportunities for wellbeing and options for integration with existing business priorities.  

By completing the short survey below, you will help to inform the national picture of how housing providers are currently using IoT in Scottish Housing.

Click here to take the Healthier Homes IoT survey. 

In the survey, you will have the opportunity to say if you are interested in learning more about the project, including the various ways you could get involved. If you would like to hear more, we will send you an invite to our first Healthier Homes event in June.

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