Neal Hooper, Aico’s managing director, and Luke Loveridge, chief executive of Homelync, explain why Aico and Homelync have come together to create safer homes in social housing, the benefits of remote management and the future of housing.
Why have Aico and Homelync come together?
The internet of things (IoT) has been showing lots of promise for homes and cities, with McKinsey back in 2015 predicting these two ‘settings’ being worth up to $2 trillion globally per year by 2025. The synergy between Aico and Homelync will bring forward the emergence of simple, scalable IoT technology within social housing.
Our housing customers all over the country are telling us about how they want to become more efficient by using IoT technology. Unfortunately for housing providers, there has been a slow uptake with too many barriers to entry. The McKinsey report also reported that up to 60 per cent of the value of IoT can only be realised by integration. We have many colleagues with extensive experience in the sector who have seen interoperability challenges leading to duplication and complexity.
“The synergy between Aico and Homelync will bring forward the emergence of simple, scalable IoT technology within housing. Our housing customers all over the country are telling us about their need to become more efficient by using IoT technology.”
Neal Hooper, Managing Director, Aico
The first step for many housing providers on this journey is to install our SmartLink Gateway which enables remote management of their fire and carbon-monoxide (CO) detection systems. When it comes to fire and CO detectors, there is no other brand trusted more than Aico, which can be seen by the number of partnerships we have with housing providers all over the UK. Homelync has decades of experience in software development and is a world-leading expert in data science. This combined with Aico’s trusted brand, manufacturing excellence and market leadership position, greatly reduces the barriers to entry for housing providers thinking about investing in IoT.
The next stage in improving efficiencies through IoT will be achieved by increasing the sensor density within properties. However, once a home has multiple sensors in it, the true value and efficiencies are only seen through insights of aggregated data from thousands of sensors through the use of algorithms and machine learning – this is the value that Homelync will unlock. The coming together of Aico’s world-class hardware and Homelync’s innovative software will deliver the reality of efficiency from IoT to social housing.
What are the benefits?
Housing providers are looking for IoT solutions from trusted, reputable brands who have a proven track record in social housing. For these organisations, it’s a huge risk to roll out hardware with a 10-year life into thousands of homes at huge expense when the business selling the hardware is still, in essence, a start-up.
Recent months have shown how vulnerable these types of businesses are to even a slight change in the economy and global supply chains. Another consideration is that the majority of IoT devices are designed for the consumer market, with high data consumption and little or no options for the management of more than one property, never mind the thousands of properties within most housing providers’ portfolios.
“Homelync has decades of experience in software development and is a world-leading expert in data science. This combined approach with Aico’s trusted brand, manufacturing excellence and market leadership position, greatly reduces the barriers to entry for housing providers thinking about investing in IoT.”
Luke Loveridge, Chief Executive Officer, Homelync
The benefits of this partnership are very exciting. Housing providers will be able to access the latest technologies from Homelync to address complex challenges such as damp and mould risks, indoor air quality, fuel poverty, optimising responsive repairs and energy efficiency programmes, while also benefitting from having leading fire safety technology, a trusted reputation for quality devices, wrap-around service, as well as the scale and stability of Aico.
Our customers have been installing Aico sensors in their properties for up to 30 years. Over this period, feedback from our customers has been essential in the development of the next iteration of our technology, ensuring we offer products which solve their problems. The acquisition of Homelync is no different. This will ensure Aico remains at the forefront of technology, bringing to the market a tailored scalable solution for social housing from a known brand with a proven track record of quality.
The potential benefits are huge. A Building Research Establishment (BRE) report estimates that the NHS could save over £1.4 billion per year by addressing 26 areas in housing, such as fire and carbon-monoxide safety and areas relating to indoor air quality.
The link between people’s home and their health has been made clearer during the pandemic; a recent report from the Centre for Ageing Better showed savings of £4 for every £1 spent on making homes warmer.
We’ve also analysed historic repairs data; housing providers are spending a large proportion of their budgets on responsive repairs for damp and mould without including the hidden costs associated with customer contact, legal action and increased costs to planned works.
Our solution can help identify many of these issues, provide recommendations for action and monitor their impact. We’ve had up to 70 per cent reductions in mould risks and nearly 20 per cent reductions in indoor air pollutants with many of our housing customers. Overall, we’ve conservatively calculated our customers’ return on investment (RoI) to be over £8 for every £1 spent.
How does the future look?
IoT is becoming mainstream, with fire alarms, environmental sensors and energy solutions leading the way, but with advanced water leak detection, virtual assistants, predictive maintenance, automation and much more starting to reach the right requirements and price points for the sector. Homelync and Aico can now offer a future-proofed IoT platform for the home with these new devices and technologies easily integrated. This brings everything under one roof, offering true simplicity to a sometimes bewildering and complex ecosystem so that housing providers can avoid a complex web of ‘simple’ solutions which, in the long run, are anything but.
IoT technology within social housing is still in its infancy. Many of our customers are ready to start the first steps into IoT technology to validate the RoI for themselves. For all of them, the journey to full adoption is going to take a number of years.
The majority of our customers, however, are already part way into this journey, maybe without even realising it. Those who have been installing the Aico 3000 series smoke and CO alarms since their launch in 2018 have been installing some of the IoT sensor infrastructure required. At the start of 2020, Aico launched the SmartLink Gateway which enables data from these sensors to be accessed remotely, forming an IoT solution. This solution is already being implemented by many housing providers.
From speaking to our housing customers, common themes keep emerging. They want to ensure they are building an open IoT ecosystem, which is easy to retrofit and reports into one dashboard. The platform that Homelync has developed will enable customers to build on the existing sensor and infrastructure already installed within millions of social housing properties, while enabling them to increase the sensor density within their properties. This will then enable them to become more proactive and able to make better decisions around their asset investments, ultimately increasing their efficiencies while also increasing the standard of accommodation for their tenants.
Neal Hooper is the managing director of Aico, and Luke Loveridge is the chief executive of Homelync.