The smart social home

Smart homes should be for everybody. For social housing organisations especially, the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) technology should be seen as a win-win. It will help them to manage and maintain their assets more effectively. And it will help their residents to take an active and leading role in that management and maintenance process.

Smart locks will let a resident who is at work open their front door so that a repairs person can fix a faulty boiler, reducing costs associated with missed appointments.

Smart temperature sensors will enable social housing organisations to measure and resolve damp and mould issues before they become a costly problem to fix.

Smart leak sensors can detect water escape and activate smart stop-cocks before major damage is caused, saving costs of repairs, protecting residents’ home contents and the inconvenience of remedial work.

Over the last five years there have been numerous articles, conference presentations and ideations dedicated to the use of the IoT technology in social housing. Yet, despite pilots demonstrating the value of the technology, the social smart home remains on the drawing board.

In Do the Smart Thing we examine some of these pilots to see how far the sector has engaged with IoT technology. We then look at some of the barriers to its wider implementation. We finish by highlighting the potential benefits of the social smart home for residents and communities. 

The Paper has three key messages for social housing organisations who want to move beyond the drawing board:

• the social smart home will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint;

• implementing IoT technology into your homes should be part of your business transformation and not, as is often the case currently, siloed on its own;

• the social smart home will enable and empower residents as well as the communities they live in, improving resident engagement and breaking down the current stigmatisation of social housing residents as untrustworthy.

With the sector committed to a data-driven future, one in which residents are engaged and empowered, investment in smart homes should be seen as a critical step towards achieving this. Put simply, it is the smart thing to do.