Source: Housing Solutions
The web has transformed virtually every aspect of public, private and work life by enabling people to have easy access to a diversity of resources and as Landlords it is important that we seek to minimise digital exclusion amongst our residents by providing Wi-Fi access. Lack of connectivity can isolate people; with more and more services being available online they can miss out news updates, job opportunities as well as the ability to check their accounts, easily pay bills, book GP appointments and maintain ties with friends and family.
During the current Covid 19 pandemic, as the country went into lockdown and people were being told to stay at home, access to Wi-Fi has become vitally important for our tenants. It’s evident that access to online services is helping to address wider social and economic issues by reducing the impact of isolation.
In 2013 Housing Solutions took the decision to start to provide Wi-Fi access to tenants across our properties including sheltered, care and general needs. Our ongoing digital connectivity programme has meant more properties are coming online month on month. Since its initial deployment our networks now reach over 1600 customers; a figure which has doubled in the last year and a service that we now see as ‘essential’.
Our IT team receive regular anonymised usage reports from our communications partner, Social Telecoms, who installed the Wi-Fi and continue to support the team in the smooth operation of the networks. Although network traffic isn’t monitored, there are some website categorisation filters in place to stop inappropriate use. Using these high-level statistics, we are able to understand how the Wi-Fi services are being used, which can help us plan further implementation if we observe demand outstripping supply. During the lockdown these stats show greater usage overall, in fact an increase of 20% more Gigabytes across our networks or 3,600 GB. In more relatable terms that means you could browse the Internet for 18 years! Unsurprisingly data usage is up a gigantic 45% per device, indicating that our residents are using our networks more than they have ever done before.
The data used for video calling has surged; 308% more data is being used on Skype, Facetime, Zoom etc… Approximately 24 hours of video calling (over 3,600 minutes) has been used by our Wi-Fi networks. So, from this we can assume that residents are working at home and keeping in touch with friends and family using video calling. The data also indicates that tenants are also making good use of streaming entertainment data which equates to approximately 77 hours per site. Gaming usage has leapt up a massive 45% during lockdown or 341 hours of gaming during the 30 days.
As an organisation we had the infrastructure in place to enable home working, so that as the country was asked to isolate, all staff including our Contact Centre were almost immediately providing full services remotely. We also have easy to use online services. We have seen an increase in user traffic, with usage of our chatbot facility up 25% and our customer portal experiencing 150% uptick in traffic. Technology is playing a key role in addressing loneliness, enabling people to stay connected and empowered. Providing Wi-Fi access to tenants has undoubtedly made a significant difference to the quality of our resident’s lives during these unprecedented times.