How Housing Associations can use AI and IoT to future-proof their business

OPINION / 14th May 2019

Housing Associations will be able to utilise emerging tech, such as AI and IoT, to work smarter, more efficiently and to future-proof their businesses.

Here we look at these two rapidly evolving technologies to see how they can be implemented within this sector.

AI

There’s a lot of hype around AI, and only the very advanced sectors are currently utilising its true capabilities effectively.

Yet, within the next five years, AI will become commonplace and will be integrated into most business processes.

As Housing Associations migrate their systems to the cloud, develop their own platforms and introduce online customer portals, as well as sophisticated back-end CRMs, they’ll have more mineable data at their fingertips than ever before.

AI feeds off data; the more it has, the more it is able to understand customer patterns. The more data AI can use, the more businesses can apply predictive analytics to identify hotspots / forecast previously unknown outcomes.

For example, Housing Associations will be able to create algorithms to identify tenants prone to rent arrears or those most likely to default on their payments, in the same way banks are doing right now.

Housing Associations that use AI will become more proactive with their customers, and enable them to support their most vulnerable customers in ways they’ve not been able to before.

IoT

It has been predicted that within the next year, 50 to 100 billion devices will be connected to the internet. The use of sensors, RFID tags and smart beacons will soon become the norm and will revolutionise how every industry is run.

Installing sensors in Housing Association properties will significantly reduce maintenance and repair costs. For example, sensors can alert maintenance teams if a pipe is going to burst before it does, or before it wears out completely.

This will put an end to costly routine maintenance checks. Workmen will only need to go out to see something / do something if it needs to be done.

Having sensors in properties will also generate a lot of data that can help Housing Associations plan for the future.

They will be able to use it to forecast how long certain items last, as well as how often colleagues have to do site visits, etc.

Housing Associations can learn from the smart neighbourhood project being carried out by Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet Inc.’s (Google’s parent company) in Toronto.

Sidewalk Labs is installing smart sensors into a specific neighbourhood in order to record everything from walking routes, shared car use, building occupancy, sewage flow and temperature choice 24/7, with the goal of creating a convenient, safe and clean place to live.

The learnings from this project will be far-reaching, and Housing Associations will be able to benefit from the findings from this project.

ORM’s view

With increased focus and regulation around safety, IoT provides great opportunity for Housing Associations to monitor many aspects of their properties and estates, ultimately making them safer. AI provides the horse power to process and learn from massive amounts of data to help predict and forecast previously unknown outcomes.

Housing Associations can learn from other sectors who are already using IoT and AI.

Manufacturers for example, are using IoT to prevent delays, improve production performance, reduce equipment downtime, as well as manage inventory effectively.

Many financial services companies are now using AI-powered chatbots to handle routine interactions with customers. For example, last year NatWest introduced ‘Cora’, an in-branch AI personality, to help its customers with basic queries.

This summer ORM hosts the inaugural PITCH event – People Innovating to Change Housing. This is an immersive day of developers, designers and subject matter experts in housing coming together to collaborate on new digital initiatives for the sector. Register your interest by signing up for our introductory webinar on Thursday 16 May at 4pm.

Peter Patersen Peter Patersen Director, Client Engagement Peter Patersen