Technology enabling social housing providers to refocus back to the future

Technology enabling social housing providers to refocus back to the future

Hyperoptic, the hyperfast broadband provider, has launched its new industry whitepaper on ‘The Future of Social Housing,’ which outlines how smart technologies are addressing acute challenges faced by social housing providers and enabling the future success of the sector.

The whitepaper has been 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.

The whitepaper identifies three ways in which connected technology in homes and communities can create value and address issues in the social housing sector. It 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.

It then analyses 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%).

Liam McAvoy, MD, Business Development, Hyperoptic said: “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.”

James Williams, Head of Social Impact, Housing Association Charitable Trust (HACT) commented: “Our goal is that the research we have co-created with Hyperoptic will help social housing providers identify where connected technology can create value, how, and for whom. Having a high-level view of the potential to deliver impact now and in the future is the first step to establishing an informed procurement approach that will invest in the right technology that will solve real issues for residents and communities.”

Last year Hyperoptic collaborated with HACT to develop the industry’s first Digital Connectivity Social Value Calculator, which is now being used by social housing providers across the UK to analyse in monetary terms the exact social value of hyperfast broadband and, crucially, improve social outcomes in areas of disadvantage.

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