One of 32 council areas of Scotland, Renfrewshire sits in the west central Lowlands, bordered by the Firth of Clyde and River Clyde. With nearly 176,000 residents, this council area is the 10th most populous in Scotland and may help propel a wave of housing reformation thanks to a new Internet of Things (IoT) initiative, which can help save local authorities millions of pounds on property management and repair bills. A pilot scheme kicked off in July 2016 monitoring properties like high-rises, cottages and terraced housing to detect whether residents are living in fuel poverty. Let’s take a look at this sensing technology and how it’s helping the area solve problems in one key sector: social housing.
Real-time housing solutions
Smart asset management company iOpt Assets is starting small, partnering with Renfrewshire Council to detect temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels in 50 social homes around Paisley, the largest city in the Renfrewshire area. Working with local partners to install LoRa (low power wide area network technology), this IoT network will bring affordable technology and applications to a large span of both urban and rural areas, which Paisley hopes will enhance its bid for UK City of Culture 2021. By capturing and analysing this data in real time, local authorities can take preventative action and solve problems residents may be facing before they turn into more costly situations. For example, high carbon dioxide levels may signal ventilation and air quality issues, while low temperatures and high humidity may be a sign of fuel poverty.
With an estimated benefit of a 600 percent return on investment—thanks to the prevention of problems and damage that may have taken place without early detection—iOpt Assets hopes to offer a similar solution to housing associations across the country, rolling out the same sensing technology to 2,000 homes by the end of the year. Figures from the Chartered Institute of Housing show that in England alone, there are 3.9 million local authority and housing association homes falling under the social rent category. With this type of technology, cities can save on asset management while also reducing housing-related health issues like asthma, which is linked to damp homes.
According to Dane Ralston, director at iOpt Assets: “The results of the project have proven the business case for this service. It’s delivering significant returns by allowing the council to predict issues and be proactive with maintenance, which is invariably more cost effective than having to deal with them after the fact. It also reduces the need for regular property visits and administration, while also leading to reduced premiums in large property portfolios.”
With four new IoT networks in place across Scotland, even the most remote parts of the country will benefit from next-generation connectivity that opens up solutions for housing problems such as fuel poverty, in addition to helping communities develop other solutions to tackle individual issues they may be facing.