Clydebank Housing is using Aico’s 3000 and 600 series detectors as well as its Ei1000G SmartLink gateway to ensure tenant safety, future-proof its housing stock and meet the latest legislation to maintain compliance.
In 1999, the housing provider acquired 750 houses from Scottish Homes, increasing its total stock to around 1,100 properties, catering for all types of residents including the elderly, disabled people and those with special needs.
The changes in legislation relating to the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (Tolerable Standard) Order 2019 specifies that homes must have satisfactory equipment for detecting fire and carbon monoxide (CO). Clydebank Housing therefore embarked on a tender for the delivery of fire and CO alarms to maintain compliance.
A requirement of the legislation is for all smoke and heat alarms in a property to be interlinked, which encouraged Clydebank Housing to use Aico’s 3000 series detectors with SmartLink technology.
Clydebank Housing’s upgrade program applies to over 800 properties including several high-rise blocks. The fire and CO alarm upgrade will not only ensure its housing stock is compliant, but it will also increase tenant safety.
The SmartLink specification was initially considered only for its tower blocks because access can often be difficult. Furthermore, there is no gas heating in these properties so it was clear that use of the gateway represented an obvious cost saving because the alarm system’s integrity can be checked remotely (this is usually done during the annual gas-safety check). Clydebank Housing will receive real-time alerts about its properties, ensuring faster response times and assurance that the alarms are working properly.
The housing provider then accepted the wisdom of using the SmartLink gateway for all of its properties. The gateway monitors every linked alarm and will notify Clydebank Housing on a wider range of alarm events in real-time through a web-based portal to provide extra visibility. Remote access to information such as sensor status, alarm replacement dates, battery life, activations, testing of alarms and detector-head removals will empower a proactive approach to asset management.
As an accredited ‘Aico Expert Installer’, City Technical Services was responsible for part of the upgrade programme. City Technical Services’ managing director, Kenny Henderson, said, “We’ve been very impressed with the SmartLink gateway, particularly within the tower blocks where you tend to think GSM signals might be a problem given their solid construction, but we found that notifications were delivered instantly and the use of a roaming SIM card is ideal because wifi or LoRaWAN isn’t always available.”
The gateway receives information through radio frequency (RF) signals, with the encrypted data sent to Aico’s cloud-based portal using roaming GSM connectivity; this feature is a big advantage because it removes the need for Clydebank Housing’s properties to have wifi or broadband in order for the SmartLink gateway to work. The information collected through the gateway is then accessible through a web-based dashboard where Clydebank Housing can generate reports on its properties’ fire and CO alarm performance.
The housing provider will use the dashboard to ensure detectors are being tested regularly. The real-time data will also help with identifying sounding alarms; this can cause confusion for people due to the interlinking of all smoke alarms required by the updated Scottish legislation.
Jack Devlin, acting housing services manager, Clydebank Housing, said, “We’re really excited to have nearly finished our SmartLink gateway roll out. In short, the gateway is our vehicle for gathering data from our properties and it made sense to get these installed at the earliest opportunity so that additional sensors can be added when we need them.
“We are futureproofing our housing stock for years to come. With additional sensors in the pipeline, these could be added to our existing gateway to provide remote insights on environmental data such air quality, fuel poverty, humidity and temperature as well as gathering data on the detection systems themselves.
“Being able to run reports on the portal such as faults and replacement dates makes forecasting our maintenance plans a much easier process. Furthermore, we’ve found that the gateway has been a very successful way of engaging with our tenants and we are keen to see our new resident app in action because it will empower our tenants to make lifestyle changes based on data gathered from our new environmental sensors.”
HomeLink’s ethics research into IoT in housing
HomeLink (part of Aico) and the University of Bristol have completed research into some of the ethical and data privacy questions around the use of IoT devices in housing.
Aside from any technical considerations around the installation and use of IoT devices in tenants’ homes, the key factors to consider in any IoT project are tenants’ financial situation, knowledge and experience, behaviour, personality and personal preference. Alongside these is the need to cultivate trust among tenants in not only the underlying IoT technologies but also trust in housing providers’ governance processes.
The HomeLink and University of Bristol report also looked at aspects such as privacy, fairness, equity and non-discrimination, improvement of human welfare, misuse of data, public knowledge and awareness, cybersecurity, transparency and accountability, clarity, environmental impact and autonomy.
Aico’s research is based on the views of over 500 tenants and 50 housing-sector professionals. The full ‘Connected & fair – Ethical IoT for social housing’ report is available from aico.co.uk.