IoT: Creating healthier, safer sustainable homes

Internet of Things (IoT) and connected home technologies are already transforming how we view the indoor environment. Without the data these devices provide, we are effectively blind to the health of our homes, as Aico explains

The use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology is rising, with housing providers across the UK rapidly deploying connected devices within their properties to improve asset management and promote resident health and safety.

With tightening legislation around requirements for landlords regarding the health and safety of their housing stock, and growing public concern surrounding disrepair, IoT is one of the few remaining options for landlords, in order to combat poor ventilation, high carbon dioxide levels, low energy efficiency, fuel poverty and damp and mould.

With over 5 million socially rented homes in the UK, all varying in age and condition, it would be impossible for landlords to take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the management and maintenance of their housing portfolio.

However, it is necessary for many housing providers to take this route due to the lack of information on their properties. With this comes a limited understanding of how well individual homes are performing. Without specific data on each property in a portfolio, how can they detect which homes could benefit from retrofit or maintenance and if the measures put in place work as intended?

Data and insight solutions

Connected technologies help to combat this challenge. When installed across a housing portfolio, this smart technology enables real-time insights into which homes are performing well and which could benefit from upgrades.

By replacing assumption and guesswork with data and insights, it is possible for organisations to achieve their overarching goal of ensuring safe, healthy and sustainable homes for every resident.

Connected technologies enable landlords to gather data remotely from connected fire and carbon monoxide alarms and environmental sensors, with all the information available via an online portal, segmented into high, medium and low risk.

Damp and mould are becoming an ever-increasing issue within social housing properties, with landlords being responsible for providing well-maintained homes for their residents. No case of damp or mould should ever be ignored. If left untreated, it not only compromises the property’s structural integrity, but also poses a significant health risk to residents, prompting respiratory infections, allergies and asthma. Mould can also negatively affect those with existing conditions, such as respiratory illnesses and skin conditions; as well as individuals who are immunocompromised.

By using a connected home solution it is possible for housing associations to pinpoint properties which are at risk of developing damp and mould due to poor air quality.

There is a range of structural and environmental factors that can contribute to these conditions. Using the data collected from environmental sensors, the connected home solution can provide a unique ‘structural vs environmental’ insight to identify the root cause of the problem.

The structural data looks at typical surface humidity, heat dissipation and natural ventilation deficit to identify if factors, such as the thermal efficiency of a room, are impacting the risk of damp and mould. Environmental factors include humidity surges, heating instability and ventilation idleness to determine if damp and mould are forming due to the conditions to which a property is being subjected.

This in-depth analysis enables landlords to accurately target properties in disrepair, and proactively allocate the correct resources to homes that require maintenance.

Preventative maintenance

Using connected devices gives housing providers complete transparency in relation to the quality of their housing portfolio. With in-depth data from individual houses and specific rooms, it becomes simple to identify any underlying problems that could contribute to disrepair. This gives landlords the knowledge to tackle issues in a preventative manner, as opposed to reactive responses when the scale of the problem has developed into something more severe.

With the number of disrepair claims increasing within the social housing sector, combined with ageing housing stock and strict regulations, such as the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, landlords are under immense pressure to ensure the provision of safe and healthy homes for residents.

IoT enables landlords to identify disrepair before it becomes a problem. Through deploying a suite of sensors and analysing the data received via machine learning, IoT technology provides a holistic view of property conditions remotely, enabling a proactive approach to property maintenance. The actionable insights enable landlords to be proactive rather than reactive. From identifying an environmental risk – for example, poor indoor air quality – to knowing if there are maintenance issues like an alarm head removal from the baseplate. By leveraging data and insights, landlords can target at-risk properties and effectively allocate resources to increase both time and cost savings.

Article supplied by Aico