Sensor technology in demand as housing associations come under spotlight over ‘acceptable standards’

An increasing number of social housing providers are looking to use the latest technology to maintain their properties and improve tenant health.

Housing associations and councils in Yorkshire, the North West and Wales have so far trialled cutting-edge sensor technology which detects issues such as damp, fuel poverty and abandoned properties.

The growing demand for the technology coincides with a report by the housing charity Shelter that says that more than four in 10 Britons live in homes that do not reach acceptable standards in cleanliness, safety and space.

In the report, Shelter said that people should “thrive” and not just “get by” in their homes.

Early adopters of the technology, which has been developed by North Wales company Pinacl Solutions, are Newport City Homes, Halton Housing and the City of York.

Mark Lowe, Pinacl’s Business Development Director said:

“Social housing providers are under huge pressures to ensure that their homes are maintained to the highest possible standard.

“But many of them are having to manage tens of thousands of properties, often with extremely small teams.

“Poor property conditions cause serious problems for the property and, more importantly, tenant health if they are not addressed quickly.

“It costs in the region of £25,000 to fully refit the average social housing property, a cost that our technology helps to avoid.

“We know from our research that around one in ten properties have an urgent need of intervention which would require renovation running into tens of thousands of pounds if not detected early on and acted upon.”

The sensors give social housing providers a real-time insight into the health of each of their properties. Alerts can be automatically generated if problems arise or are predicted to, ensuring that corrective action is taken to keep property and tenant healthy. Up to four sensors will be installed in homes, typically covering the bathroom, bedroom, living room and kitchen.

Pinacl provides a full end-to-end solution from sensor, Internet of Things (IoT) network to application dashboard. The sensors can monitor humidity, temperature, CO2 and movement and are able to provide hourly readings on to the dashboard.

Mark added:

“The IoT is a current technology buzzword but what we have done is develop a solution to a long-term and hugely expensive challenge facing social housing providers.

Pinacl Solution is headquartered in St Asaph, North Wales, but works across the UK providing public and private sector organisations with a range of innovative digital transformation solutions. The company is 35 years old and employs almost 50 staff.