You could associate the title to this article with a lot of things across a lot of sectors, however, I’m writing this to highlight a more specific issue around SMART Technology and Digital switch over in Social Housing. Having read a blog written by the Northern Housing Magazine, it got me thinking about the conversations I am having around the country and known issues I faced and continue to face in Local Government.
The blog focused on the need to transition care services from the current Analog system to digital to ensure more calls are received first time, ultimately resulting in a better care system and better maintenance. But, the problem is wider than that, as always I guess. When we consider Local Government funding, and lack of, we have to spend a few minutes thinking about those who are required to manage compliance and workflows within tight constraints, we must also remember that right now everyone is looking left at Grenfell whilst to the right other things are left as ‘not important’ right now.
Let’s just clarify something to help you understand what we’re talking about here. We are most definitely NOT talking about clapping your hands to turn on lights, system interfacing monitoring through Internet of Things (IoT), Amazon Alexa tech to turn devices on or off, system segmentation of rooms to monitor and control specific things or even SMART Meters and energy generation through specific system ‘modes’. All fancy clever terminology and out there stuff.
What we are talking about here is fast forward and rewind on your TV, programming tenant access through the internet rather than raising an order to visit site to program a FOB (Frequency Operated Button), having Fire Alarms and other safety critical systems notify you automatically rather than relying on a telephone line to dial the local fire service. We need fail safe systems.
The big issue here can be summed up by explaining something that happening to me a few years ago at a SMART Tech event in York. The event was arranged by a fantastic organisation called Voltimum and they had some incredible speakers talking about all those jazzy words I used above. The insight was scary and reminded me of movies like Enemy of the State or Mission Impossible. Anyway, during the Questions and Answers part I asked a chap a simple question… went something like this..
‘So in Social Housing we need a step by step roadmap to get us from where we are now to where you are. Is there a plan to develop this to help everyone slowly move towards this great tech?’
“Ive been working in SMART tech for a few years and my diary is full for the next year in London. If you’re not considering it now the train has already left and you’ll have to just accept it’s here”
My view is that is very unhelpful and unfortunately he and others are who the industry and Gov look towards for guidance on moving the world forward. Social Housing… lets play catch up again.
What key areas do we need to look at:
• Telecare (as per the purpose of this article)
• Fire Alarms
• Emergency Lighting
• Control Entry / Access / Monitoring
• Television Systems
• Phone lines
• Amongst other things
I use the term basic stuff but please don’t assume that means these are not just as important as fire barriers etc. In fact, when we consider fire barriers we should look at all the items above and see if we can create a way to control providers (TV and Phonelines) so they don’t just drill through our fire barriers etc.
We need to talk, we need to map out the benefits and issues alongside each other and then consider how much it will cost against how much it will take to maintain for its life. We need to include Social Housing in this and most importantly….. we need to keep people informed of what we’re doing. We have 6 to 7 years to get this right folks.