Dame Hackitt’s independent review of building regulations and fire safety, combined with the release of the draft Building Safety Bill and the recent formation of the National Construction Products Regulator, continue to drive cultural and regulatory changes throughout our sector regarding the safety and suitability of residential buildings, particularly high-rise structures.
FireAngel’s connected homes director, James King, explores how the internet of things and artificial intelligence technologies that enable remote real-time monitoring are supporting housing providers in achieving a ‘golden thread’ of data that supports actionable insights to ensure each tenant’s individual safety requirements are adequately met, while also documenting constant compliance across an entire property portfolio.
The recommendations outlined in both the Hackitt Report and the draft Building Safety Bill are based on a significant change in approach for our sector, one which places resident safety and building suitability at its core.
This new methodology is predicated on overcoming the ingrained flaws of the housing sector’s current regulatory system, specifically with regard to the inadequacy of existing methods of paper-based data capture and the subsequent failure to successfully communicate this information to key individuals throughout the entire lifecycle of a building.
The Hackitt Report has proven that the failure to sufficiently document and communicate this information leads to an inability to comprehensively understand the level of risk each property and tenant represents, which subsequently means the building isn’t fit for purpose and constant compliance can’t be achieved.
To successfully attain this shift in methodology, the requirement for a ‘golden thread’ of transparent building information is critical, not only during the initial design and construction stages, but throughout each occupation and maintenance phase, to provide valuable insights that can be acted on to ensure due diligence and duty of care.
The digitisation of data capture
By replacing existing safety solutions with connected systems, housing providers can cost-effectively digitise their methods of data capture to attain a consistent output of necessary information and achieve confirmation of compliance across an entire portfolio, right from the initial installation stages.
Because gaining access to properties continues to be an ongoing concern for housing providers, it’s paramount that once access is achieved, contractors can successfully install and sign off the network in a single visit. To ensure installers can support a single thread of data, without reams of paperwork to file once they’ve left the property, connected technologies are enabling these stages to be completed on site, with all of the details digitally logged against the property in an instant.
Following installation, the contractor can validate each device by taking a photograph of every product installed in each room. These images are then uploaded to the centralised platform, facilitating immediate sign-off, which subsequently produces a certification of fire legislative compliance in accordance with BS 5839-6.
This intelligent process of digital confirmation eradicates any requirement for paper-based data capture, ensuring each installation has been successfully assessed for competence and validated to ensure the maximum levels of detection have been achieved, completely revolutionising previous approaches to documentation and verification.
Because these connected solutions support the data capture and wireless communication of relevant information, the ‘golden thread’ of data from the initial installation is extended on a daily basis as key details from every device across an entire network are transmitted in real time to the cloud-based platform.
As a result, housing providers can receive instant notifications regarding the status of every device installed in each property across their entire portfolio, including vital information such as alarm diagnostics, alarm history, replacement dates and network health.
The very nature of a wireless network also supports its continued adaptability, giving housing providers the flexibility to install or remove additional sensors, dependent on the unique requirements of the resident and their property.
English Housing’s 2019-2020 survey found that over half of social-rented households have one or more members with long-term disabilities. As their needs develop and change, it’s essential that the data captured can either highlight this shift or be enhanced to include further data streams to support the additional need that has been identified.
For example, by installing smoke, heat and carbon monoxide (CO) devices that feature supplementary sensors and use IoT and AI technology, housing providers can capture valuable information regarding additional factors that may affect the safety of a resident and the suitability of the building, not just the associated dangers attributed to smoke and CO.
This encompasses diverse influences, such as monitoring the level of humidity and temperature of the property or detecting water leaks and room occupancy. Because this data is captured in real time within the cloud-based platform, the network of devices wirelessly communicates the data to key individuals to provide essential insights into the current status of the property and the associated risk factors that may need to be acted on. For more immediate actions, the sensors can also detect whether a resident is in distress and needs immediate support through the activation of a wireless panic button and smart siren.
Revolutionising audit & asset management
By offering the ability to also communicate this information into an existing asset management platform, housing providers can not only achieve a new level of fire-safety practices that adhere to the guidance outlined in the draft Bill, but also use this ‘golden thread’ of information to cost-effectively transform their approaches to asset and audit management.
This data also enables the creation of actionable insights that can be communicated to key individuals responsible for the continued safety and maintenance of each property. This allows constant upgrades and adaptations to be made as and when needed to ensure the continued safety of each resident.
To support this, FireAngel’s Predict technology, which uses the data output from each smoke and heat sensor to identify high-risk patterns and trends and then translates them into manageable and actionable insights, ensures the continued safety of each individual through the strategic application of resources in the most cost-effective and efficient way.
By monitoring dangerous trends as they happen, it enables our unique patented algorithm to prompt a non-time critical intervention, marking a shift towards a methodology of prevention, rather than purely reaction, to potentially prevent a life-threatening event from occurring.
The result is a long-term reduction in overheads because this successful stratification of risk identifies any changes in building or resident behaviour, as and when it occurs, to support the effective management and maintenance of assets, while also streamlining current auditing practices, particularly with regard to compliance because a digital audit trail of compliance is constantly updated and documented.
The principles of the new regulatory framework outlined in the Hackitt Report aim to drive real cultural change and support the adoption of new behaviours throughout our sector. Through the provision of connected technologies that support remote real-time monitoring, housing providers can achieve a ‘golden thread’ of building information that is consistently updated and communicated to facilitate actionable insights that not only ensure constant compliance but also provide each resident with the highest standards of safety.
To find out how FireAngel Connected can help protect your residents and properties, get in touch with our specialists via firstname.lastname@example.org or visit fireangel.co.uk/connected.
James King is the connected homes director for FireAngel.