A Connected Home

By Matt Leach - on 22/04/2015

The Internet of Things is going to change how we live our lives. HACT's Chief Executive comments on how it can revolutionise the housing sector.

What if we could install smart heating systems which had the potential to save 30% off tenants' energy bills powered by boilers that told us when they needed servicing (and allowed us to shut them down remotely if they showed signs of becoming dangerous) the same sensors supporting these systems telling us if a property had been abandoned (or unexpectedly occupied), or - if you needed to talk to the tenant - whether it was worth phoning them up because they were likely to be around at that time of day and we could manage and monitor noise nuisance issues remotely or get hour by hour moisture readings from our desktops from homes concerned about damp problems.

And if the same sensors doing all of that could help housing providersprovide graduated and flexible support to the vulnerable in their home in ways which enabled us to spot when they are in trouble and provide support when something went wrong start designing homes around clear evidence about how people use them day to day, rather than the same assumptions that have governed housing design for the last fifty years and do all of this at a fraction of the cost of historic tech revolutions, but with multiple times more impact.

All of this is (nearly) achievable now.  The last 2-3 years have seen an exponential growth in the power, availability and ubiquity of cheap connected technologies, which - across sectors - are radically transforming the ways in which businesses and services are being conceived and delivered.

At last week's Connected Home Consortium launch event (click here to see the Storify feed), we saw presentation after presentation showing how all of this at the point of coming to market, and is already transforming many areas of our lives, and those of our tenants.

Housing needs to be part of that revolution.

We're not there yet though.  A lot of what has been developed for the housing market is focused on individual purchasers and owner occupiers we haven't seen the IoT yet provide joined up solutions for the social housing sector.  Although with 4.5m homes - one in five homes across the UK - it can only be a matter of time.  The recent purchase of leading UK Internet of Things sensor manufacturer Wireless Things by housing tech group 365Agile is an early sign of what is to come (and soon)

That's why, with Halton CEO Nick Atkin, ex-Viridian CEO Matthew Fox and long time housing and technology analyst Richard Sage, I set up the Connected Home Consortium (currently being incubated in HACT).

We're aiming through the CHC to highlight value and potential of IoT to transform businesses:

  • Assist landlords in navigating very new and rapidly developing market;
  • Broker links between landlords and those at forefront of new IoT revolution - helping to ensure new products meet market need - not just about transferring products, need to think about the specific needs of large scale landlord market both in terms of design and functionality;
  • Enable pilots to take place - and we¹re massively excited to have launched our first pilot with IoT start-up Blue Maestro trialing their their Tempo device in 100 homes across 10 landlords by the end of May;
  • Start to lead discussions about wider privacy, regulatory issues that will emerge.

All of these areas of work are critical to ensuring the housing sector benefits to the full extent from the new connected economy.

Last week's launch was the first event in what will be over a year of planned CHC activity, setting a roadmap for the housing sector as it embraces the Internet of Things.  We're very much hoping housing providers will be joining us on that journey towards defining housing's connected future.

Internet of ThingsConnected Home Consortium

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