From: Henk Korevaar, Founder, F-fectis (Netherlands)
Sir – I would like to examine the possibilities and benefits of establishing a European network for IT professionals in housing associations.
Europe has 19 countries where housing associations exist. As far as I know, only in the Netherlands and the UK do networks exist for professionals in IT and housing. The Netherlands’ network comprises 160 members and in the UK only regional and/or size of organisation-related networks exist.
There is no international networking organisation aimed at the IT professionals in housing. Opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and best practices as well as joint projects are initiated on a personal level only. Perhaps it’s time to set up such a networking organisation?
As the basis for some starting points for this idea, the Dutch Peer-2-Peer network was established in 2000 and now has 175 members representing almost two million units. The network has been successful and includes elements such as meetings, conference publications, study tours to other European countries and an annual total cost of ownership survey.
The members of the Dutch network and the participants in the TCO study are very interested in expanding their activities and contacts across borders. The network’s format could easily be copied and translated for use in other countries and (once implemented) further modified to fit the local situation. This could help to join up related initiatives in different countries, leading to benefits for all relatively quickly and with limited financial and organisational input.
As soon as networks are in operation in various countries, the formation of a ‘network-of-networks’ could be the next step. Also the sharing and comparing of data and trends from the TCO survey could provide many countries with valuable data and lessons learnt.