Maintenance, Smart Home, Social Housing

Building confidence in compliance for social housing with the IoT

FireAngel’s Service Delivery Manager Wes Gutteridge, discusses how housing associations can use technological advancements to ensure compliance not only for today, but for the future.

For housing associations, the responsibility of managing compliance can be incredibly challenging as it can be difficult to demonstrate.

Previously, documents and reports would have been physically stored and logged for the thousands of social rented properties across the UK, with compliance status almost becoming a guessing game once the reports were filed.

In the future, as we look to improve the ‘healthiness’ of our nation’s homes, further environmental factors, such as property temperature and humidity levels, may become a compliance consideration – only adding to the difficulties. However, the right technology can now share the burden of this important role in resident safety.

Digitising compliance

compliance for social housing

For many landlords, compliance is a function of time. For example, in the case of fire and carbon monoxide protection, straight after a contractor completes an alarm installation, they are confident that property is compliant.

But as time passes, and without the resources to test and assess regularly, confidence in the alarm’s status and its ability to protect the residents may decrease. Often, the next time a property’s alarm is checked after install can be up to a year later during a gas engineer’s or maintenance team’s appointment.

By using the Internet of Things (IoT) and APIs, housing associations can feed real-time data into their asset management database. This means that housing associations have a clearer idea of which properties are no longer compliant and require a prioritised visit from the relevant team.

It also means already stretched housing teams are not being overwhelmed with reports, but instead receive management data into a centralised piece of software.

Maintaining a golden thread of digital data

compliance for social housing

Housing associations are under pressure to aim for the idea of a ‘Golden Thread’ of digital information as recommended in Dame Judith Hackitt’s report. This includes maintaining data throughout the lifecycle of a building, with every aspect of a device captured and logged automatically on an easy to access system.

But fire detection is not the only standard housing associations must comply with. Information on fire sprinkler systems, fire doors, extinguishers and emergency lighting are just a few of the safety measures that must also be captured.

IoT powered resident protection

compliance for social housing

FireAngel Connected is a purpose-built solution for domestic safety, enabling landlords to automatically log and access device information for every property they manage.

This includes installation training and compliance records, device installation images and location identifiers – supporting Hackitt’s ‘Golden Thread’ and arming maintenance teams with full insight before any site visit. Once an installation is complete, each property will be signed off by a FireAngel trained installer – providing an instant digital certificate of compliance against BS 5839:6.

FireAngel’s Specification Manager, Carl Knowles, said: “We regularly hear from housing associations and the Fire & Rescue Services of residents removing smoke and heat alarms within properties.

“Whether this is due to false alarms as a result of incorrect installation, their lifestyle choices, or because the alarm needs attention from a maintenance team, with these alarms removed the resident remains unprotected.

“It may not be until the following year that this removal is discovered, leaving not only that resident, but all of their surrounding neighbours, incredibly vulnerable to the risk of fire.”

With FireAngel Connected, landlords can remotely monitor interlinked alarms, access real-time status updates and view instant diagnostics reports for a more efficient, intelligent way to manage properties. Data is monitored in real-time to alert landlords to the status of alarms in a property, for example if removed, triggered or in need of maintenance, eliminating wasteful visits, staff time and administration fees.

Having access to individual property device data also allows housing associations to plan and cost for new alarms in the future. The solution can be deployed within the parameters of an existing budget and can be connected via cellular technology for higher reliability than Wi-Fi, to ensure tenants are kept safe even if the internet connection is interrupted.

Adapting to a changing environment

compliance for social housing

When we work in such fluid environments, utilising the advantages of connected technology to futureproof properties ensures housing associations can remain compliant when safety standards are updated or introduced. Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the industry is moving at a rapid pace. Solutions need to be adaptable to accommodate changing regulations and have the flexibility to evolve with advancing technology.

Combining FireAngel Connected with our New Generation Cellular Gateway, the only gateway in the market with built-in temperature and humidity Zigbee sensors as standard, delivers a holistic resident safety solution. Connecting with other Zigbee sensors within a property (such as water-leak detectors, panic buttons, motion sensors and smart appliances) elevates resident safety and wellbeing checks to previously unachievable levels, while simultaneously automating digital record collection and streamlining management activity.

Compliant today, compliant tomorrow

compliance for social housing

Choosing adaptable connected technology means landlords can future-proof protection, knowing that the monitoring of a property’s ecosystem will be scalable and expandable in the future to provide increased safety and reassurance should housing associations need to comply to new standards. Having the right technology empowers in-house teams with the insight to be confident all of the time, rather than just some of the time.

For more information on FireAngel’s Connected platform, get in touch with our team of specialists.