Digital Inclusion within the Social Housing Arena
With ‘IT in Housing’ just around the corner, the main topic on my clients’ lips is the challenge of keeping innovation at the forefront of an IT function, what with so many budget cuts and scepticism surrounding how much of a role IT should play within an organisation.
This is reflected in what ‘IT in Housing’ are promising to bring us this year in the form of the most interactive conference they have held yet. In their own words:
“Technology for housing associations is at a crossroads. In today’s quickly evolving digital world, technology is changing the way housing associations engage, communicate and manage tenant relationships. Housing associations also need to look at where technology fits into the wider context of political, economic and social implications.”
Having been branded a ‘traditional’ sector when speaking about the rise of technology, social housing is facing its biggest evolution in years. Digital programs are springing up throughout the UK and it doesn’t just stop at mobile working.
One clear example of this innovation has been demonstrated by Halton Housing whose ‘Digital First’ event in late September revealed how forward thinking IT in housing could be.
Discussions included the use of drones to monitor anti-social behaviour; heat and movement sensors to monitor health and home efficiency; and providing tenants with their own tablets to save money on having someone answer the phone – as well as providing round the clock support. Not only this, but having residents connected to the internet serves a social inclusion purpose, opening more and more opportunities to tenants in lesser situations.
This seemed cutting edge to me when I was at the conference, as well as expensive. Drones should be used in warfare; surely not on my street?! However it became clear that not only was this technology easily accessible, the cost to implement and maintain is much lower than I thought it would be.
So why aren’t all housing associations adopting these methods to assist in their strive towards a more ‘up to date’ and fresh approach to technology?
Does the hesitancy truly lie with budget approval?
Are we questioning what will happen to current employee’s roles should technology take over their day to day role?
Or is it that tradition shines through and we prefer a more personable service when all is said and done?
We would be keen to hear your thoughts…