The business case for the adoption of an ‘internet of housing’ strategy by housing providers is now well-proven after numerous trials (see our archive at housing-technology.com), predicated on the installation of IoT devices in tenants’ homes and communal areas coupled to back-office analytics and reporting software.
The next stage in the widespread adoption of IoT is now less about the technology and its benefits to tenants and housing providers and more about the practical aspects of its deployment at scale and subsequent long-term support. In theory, housing providers should be very well-placed for large-scale rollouts of IoT, as we wrote in 2015 (housing-technology.com/leading-the-way-with-the-internet-of-things):
“Most IoT-related devices and software, in a general domestic context, are being sold direct to consumers (B2C) on a piecemeal basis, albeit sometimes via resellers to allow for scale and reduced distribution costs. IoT suppliers therefore need to make a very large number of small sales in order to achieve widespread domestic use of IoT.
“By contrast, housing providers and local authorities are the only organisations with direct access to large networks of properties under their immediate control (unlike, say, utility companies and their networks of customers); a single housing provider could roll out cheap IoT-based humidity or temperature sensors to thousands of its properties at a stroke. The same process in the private sector would be much more expensive and complicated because it would involve thousands of discrete decisions by individual consumers.”
That said, and notwithstanding our optimism six years ago, the sheer logistics of gaining access to thousands of properties in order to install IoT devices shouldn’t be underestimated; all housing providers will be familiar with their own rates for ‘first-time fixes’ and ‘no-access visits’ by their repairs and maintenance workers.
In our view, ‘big bang’ deployments of IoT devices in tenants’ homes, based on thousands and thousands of IoT-specific appointments, will be expensive, disruptive and resource-intensive. Alternatively, by using pre-configured and ‘installation ready’ IoT devices, housing providers could make the devices’ installation a normal part of every tenant visit, repair appointment or scheduled maintenance task (with the option for tenants to proactively request IoT installation appointments), thereby substantially reducing installation costs and disruption to tenants and business operations.