For housing providers, the responsibility of managing compliance can be incredibly hard because it can be difficult to demonstrate. In the past, documents and reports would have been physically stored and logged for the thousands of social rented properties across the UK, with their respective compliance statuses becoming almost a guessing game once the reports had been filed.
In the future, as we try to improve the ‘healthiness’ of our nation’s homes, further environmental factors such as property temperature and humidity levels may become compliance considerations, thereby only adding to the difficulties. However, the right technology can now ease the burden of this important role in residents’ safety.
For many housing providers, compliance is a function of time. For example, in the case of fire and carbon monoxide protection, immediately after a contractor has completed an alarm installation, they can be confident that the property is compliant.
But as time passes, and without the resources to test and assess regularly, confidence in the alarm’s status and its ability to protect the residents may decrease. Often, the next time a property’s alarm is checked after installation can be a year later during a gas engineer or maintenance team’s appointment.
By using the internet of things (IoT) and APIs, housing providers can feed real-time data into their asset management database, giving them a clearer idea of which properties are no longer compliant and therefore require a priority visit from the relevant team. It also means that already-stretched housing teams aren’t overwhelmed with reports, but instead receive relevant management data into a centralised piece of software.
Maintaining a golden thread of digital data
Housing providers are under pressure to conform to a ‘golden thread’ of digital information as recommended in the Hackitt report. This includes maintaining data throughout the lifecycle of a building, with every aspect of a device captured and logged automatically on an easy-to-access system.
But fire detection isn’t the only standard housing providers must comply with. Information on fire sprinkler systems, fire doors, extinguishers and emergency lighting are just a few of the safety measures that must also be captured.
IoT-powered resident protection
FireAngel Connected is a purpose-built solution for domestic safety, enabling housing providers to automatically log and access device information for every property they own or manage. This includes installation training, compliance records, device installation images and location identifiers, supporting the ‘golden thread’ and giving maintenance teams full insights before any site visit.
Once an installation is complete, each property will be signed off by a FireAngel trained installer, providing an instant digital certificate of compliance against BS 5839:6.
Carl Knowles, specification manager, FireAngel, said, “We regularly hear from housing providers and the fire and rescue services about residents removing smoke and heat alarms within properties.
“Whether this is due to false alarms because of incorrect installation, their lifestyle choices or because the alarm needs maintenance, with these alarms removed the resident is unprotected.
“It may not be until the following year that this removal is discovered, leaving not only that resident but all of their surrounding neighbours vulnerable to the risk of fire.”
With FireAngel Connected, housing providers can remotely monitor interlinked alarms, access real-time status updates and view instant diagnostic reports for a more efficient, intelligent way to manage their properties.
Data is monitored in real time to alert housing providers about the status of alarms (for example, if removed, triggered or in need of maintenance) in their properties, eliminating wasteful visits, staff time and administrative costs.
Having access to device data from individual properties also allows housing providers to plan and budget for new alarms in future. The solution can be deployed within the parameters of an existing budget and can be connected via cellular technology for better reliability than wi-fi to ensure tenants are kept safe even if the internet connection is interrupted.
Adapting to a changing environment
When we work in such fluid environments, using the advantages of connected technologies to futureproof properties ensures housing providers can remain compliant when safety standards are updated or introduced.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, both the fire safety and social housing sectors are moving rapidly. Solutions need to be adaptable to accommodate changing regulations and have the flexibility to evolve with emerging technologies.
Combining FireAngel Connected with our New Generation Cellular Gateway, the only gateway in the market with built-in temperature and humidity Zigbee sensors as standard, delivers a holistic resident safety solution.
Creating connections with other Zigbee sensors within a property, such as water-leak detectors, panic buttons, motion sensors and smart appliances, raises resident safety and wellbeing checks to previously unachievable levels, while simultaneously automating data collection and streamlining management activity.
Compliant today, compliant tomorrow
Choosing adaptable connected technologies means housing providers can future-proof their residents’ protection, knowing that the monitoring of a property’s ecosystem will be scalable and expandable in future to provide increased safety and reassurance should housing providers need to comply with new standards.
Having the right technology empowers in-house teams with the insights to be confident all of the time, rather than just some of the time.
Wes Gutteridge is the service delivery manager at FireAngel.