The concept of digital twins and using data to create a virtual representation of a physical object has been part of FireAngel’s innovations since 2007 when the IoT landscape began to take shape.
With housing providers facing growing pressure to improve fire safety for residents and maintain a ‘golden thread’ of asset information, meeting these challenges within current budget parameters can feel like an overwhelming prospect.
However, similar to how digital twins operate, connected technology such as the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to virtually represent and report in real-time on a fire safety network of mains- and battery-powered alarms installed across a property.
By ensuring a constant channel of communications from physical devices to a digital dashboard, it creates a secure audit trail of data, thereby complying with the Hackitt report’s ‘golden thread’ recommendation.
Installing connected fire safety technology empowers housing providers to take advantage of centralised, off-site monitoring and enables multiple devices and properties to be managed from a single place.
Proactive over reactive maintenance
Connected smoke, heat and carbon-monoxide alarms that are powered by the IoT are monitored around the clock to keep landlords informed on the complete status of alarms in a property. Any devices that have been tampered with, removed or need urgent attention will be highlighted, helping property owners proactively plan for future maintenance investments.
Silent testing or organised audible testing can be performed remotely across a network at individual property levels on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to make sure all devices are in working order. This ensures every alarm in every property is tested every time and doesn’t rely on waiting for a member of the maintenance team to gain access for an annual test.
By processing, sorting and structuring data in real-time, the residents most at risk of a fire in individual properties are automatically pinpointed, allowing housing providers to support with active interventions.
Harnessing the capabilities of connected technology and the IoT enables housing providers to eliminate wasteful maintenance visits, saving staff time and in turn reducing administrative costs. The technology can also integrate with other asset management systems to enable automated maintenance scheduling and streamlining workloads for busy teams.
Real-time environmental monitoring
One major challenge many housing providers are facing is the onset of damp and mould in properties, with around 60,000 complaints received by local authorities across the UK relating to mould, damp or condensation between 2012 and 2018.
Unobtrusive connected temperature and humidity sensors create a holistic view of the environment inside a property. Devices can capture humidity and temperature data and provide real-time information for housing providers to actively review and spot any environments where mould or damp could easily develop. They can then deliver tailored advice to tenants and provide accurate information about where they need to adopt better ventilation and heating practices or refer them to fuel poverty support groups if they need further help.
Smart sensors can also provide a clear audit trail, recording accurate and regular environmental readings specific to each property and room – again helping to comply with the Hackitt report’s golden thread. And because the data can be analysed remotely, there’s less need for intrusive on-site investigations.
Detecting risk hidden behind closed doors
In the year ending March 2021, the UK Fire & Rescue Service attended more than 27,000 dwelling fire incidents, with 26 per cent of these fires occurring in purpose-built buildings. However, with only one in four fires known to the Fire & Rescue Service, the actual number of incidents is thought to be much higher.
When connected technology is paired with AI, it uses real-time insights to fuel proactive interventions and provide a higher level of fire prevention through the analysis of trends and patterns of data.
Developed with support from the UK Fire and Rescue Service, FireAngel Predict runs a unique algorithm with a patented application that spots trends of behaviours logged by smoke and heat alarms, creating a map of fire-safety triggers and categorising properties according to risk.
Tried, tested and trusted after 10 years’ development, FireAngel Predict gives visibility of previously hidden trends within social housing properties, such as alarms activating through the night or devices being removed.
Automatically highlighting these potentially dangerous behaviours to housing providers enables active interventions to mitigate risk with a personalised ‘safe and well’ check by the resident safety team or the fire service to help prevent a life-threatening event.
Grow a connected community
Connected technology, digital twins and the data collected from IoT sensors will continue to play a growing role in the future of fire safety in our communities. By analysing data for trends and patterns, housing providers can identify properties that are particularly prone to damp or pinpoint residents who are most at risk of a fire.
However, all this requires the right technology. With FireAngel Connected, housing providers and tenants can monitor and mitigate fire risks throughout their properties. With the automated capabilities of FireAngel Predict built in, FireAngel Connected helps to create the reliable, accurate insight housing providers need to protect their tenants, while maintaining a manageable and secure audit trail of data for each property.
The FireAngel Gateway can be connected to enhance a network via cellular or ethernet to remotely monitor smoke, heat and carbon-monoxide alarms, with built-in temperature and humidity sensors identifying environments which may lead to the onset of damp and mould in a property.
To find out how FireAngel’s extensive range of connected fire safety solutions can suit your housing portfolio or to discover more about FireAngel Predict, get in touch with our team of specialists by visiting fireangel.co.uk/connected.
Andy Greenhorn is a regional sales manager at FireAngel.