In the November 2015 issue of Housing Technology’s Editor’s Notes, we commented on how housing providers should be ideally placed to roll out IoT projects at scale because they are, almost without exception, the only organisations in the country with direct access to large networks of properties under their control (unlike utility companies and their networks of customers).
However, from talking to both housing providers and technology suppliers alike at Housing Technology’s annual reception in London earlier this month, it emerged that one of the most significant barriers to the widespread adoption of IoT is a concern about the possible support issues that might arise from deploying, say, 10,000 IoT devices across a housing provider’s stock, especially when most IoT solutions are relatively new and unproven.
Getting the devices and sensors into tenants’ homes is one thing (and not to be under-estimated), but subsequently having to support those devices is probably beyond most housing providers’ capabilities to do so themselves, while most of the IoT suppliers focusing on social housing are relatively small and new and therefore don’t have the scale of operations (unlike, say, British Gas or BT) to deploy an army of support engineers when things need fixing.
With this in mind, Housing Technology believes that we will see a very large number of new IoT deployments from 2017 onwards, but majority of these projects will be either pilot projects of up to around 100 devices and properties or larger installations of no more than 1,000 devices and properties.
This is not to say that IoT projects can’t scale, but merely a recognition that this is still a relatively new area and very few housing providers will want to be lumbered with the potential support issues of 100 per cent IoT deployments until they have tested their ability (and/or their suppliers’ abilities) to manage those devices once deployed.