In September we joined with over 6,000 delegates at Housing 2021, the biggest meeting place for the housing sector to discuss, debate, and learn about we can improve the lives of people in housing. It was a fascinating event and because it is so well attended by social housing owners and managers, we decided it was a great platform to launch our latest social housing whitepaper.
The paper is a first look at how smart technologies are addressing acute challenges faced by social housing providers and enabling the future success of the sector. It was developed in partnership with the Housing Association Charitable Trust (HACT) and draws on a literature review and interviews with fifteen social housing organisations, as well as a survey of 250+ decision-makers at social housing providers, conducted by Censuswide.
This whitepaper follows the launch of ‘Hyperoptic Digital Connectivity Social Value Calculator.’ This revolutionary new tool was developed in partnership HACT and social value specialist, Simetrica-Jacobs. It’s based on independent data from The UK Social Value Band and organisations such as the ONS and Ofcom; and was supported with information on how the social value of broadband can be calculated via its economic impact on consumers and businesses finances; and the social impacts on communities and on society.
Today the UK social housing sector is under unprecedented levels of pressure – with reduced resource and funding making ‘business as usual’ challenging and asking the question “can we do more for less?”. Connected technologies can create value and address challenges in the social housing sector. The whitepaper starts by drawing upon current challenges faced by social housing providers in light of changes implemented due to the pandemic.
According to the research respondents, nearly two thirds (63%) have faced diminished resources, over half (57%) have experienced an increased demand on services and over half (57%) have endured a reduction in funding.
The paper continues by looking at where connected technology can deliver social value. Over a third (34%) of the social housing decision makers claimed that the pandemic was the biggest driver for the deployment of smart technologies (34%), followed by enhancing engagement with residents (31%) and tenancy sustainment (31%).
The whitepaper also gives direct examples of where smart technologies can directly improve tenant quality of life and access to services; via better equipping social housing organisations to deliver good homes, services and make better decisions. It outlines that the top smart technologies that social housing leaders plan to deploy in the next 12 months, include:
Smart asset monitoring devices (51%)
Smart thermostats (49%)
Assisted living technologies (46%)
Smart fire safety devices (44%)
Smart meters (38%)
It then takes a futuristic look at how social housing organisations and other key stakeholders could approach the challenge of implementing new types of technologies, as well as considering the role of collaboration and investment in wider infrastructure. The research identified that the top cross-sector pilots that social housing providers are working on, include waste management (50%), e-health applications (50%), air quality (48%) and online education programmes (48%).
Society has undergone monumental changes over the last eighteen months, which has fast-tracked the need for social housing providers to rollout digital engagement programmes to engage and support tenants. As we move into an era of ‘smart communities’ it’s increasingly important that social housing providers invest in the right technologies that will help them enhance decision-making and tenant quality of life.
Our whitepaper gives an exciting glimpse into the future, with insights on the barriers, risks and opportunities of new technologies, and valuable recommendations on overcoming deployment challenges. Securing the future of social housing is a strategic priority for the whole of Britain. We hope our whitepaper can give some interesting food for thought as to just how crucial technology will be in enabling its success.
James Prowse, regional manager, social housing, Hyperoptic