Internet of Things – innovation sessions

We recently hosted some informative sessions for we are aspire colleagues to learn all about the Internet of Things (IoT), and how new technologies could improve our day-to-day working.

Don’t worry if the phrase ‘Internet of Things’ doesn’t make much sense to you right now; it was a new term for many of us too! But the more we learnt about it, the more fascinating it became.

The Internet of Things refers to the connected nature of modern technology – so basically, it applies to any physical devices which can communicate with other devices via the internet, which these days can include cameras, televisions, watches, cars and even buildings. These products are often known as connected devices or smart devices.

We invited several different technology partners to present our colleagues with varied types of smart technologies that could potentially drive benefit, efficiency or compliance across housing stock, developments or wellbeing.

We had three separate sessions for Aspire colleagues to attend, with different partners presenting each session. You could call it speed dating for technology!

In one session, Mick Foster, Client Manager at O2, talked us through aspects of O2 Smart Compliance; how they can use stickers that can be scanned with smartphones to act as sensors, and store information which can then be quickly accessed. We also discussed O2 WiFi, which could be used as a platform for O2 to engage with all connected customers, or even act as a real-time digital noticeboard.

Mick was joined by Alastair Thorpe, Key Account Director at Switchee – a supported partner of O2. Switchee has developed Smart Thermostats, which could deliver bespoke, actionable insights to landlords, whilst providing numerous benefits to customers, including energy bills reduced by 15%, optimised heating settings, and easy ‘fully automatic’ use.

In the next session, Vodafone showcased their IoT Portfolio, which involved a number of fascinating talks by several Vodafone partners. We looked at innovations into CCTV, including a camera that can be operated without any existing infrastructure, such as power or WiFi, and could be accessed from any internet-enabled device. We also focused on how smart technology can help us interact more effectively with homes, workforce, assets and customers.

The final session was run by CDW, an IT services and solutions provider. CDW, in partnership with Cascade3D, has been developing IoT solutions with a focus on assisted living. Some of the implemented technology includes sensors on water pipes to detect legionella risks, and sensors around assisted living homes which can provide status reports on properties.

Grant Sharman, Group Head of IT at Aspire Housing, arranged the day’s sessions. He said: “Having been involved in IoT for a number of years in my previous role, it was always an area that had great potential to improve services and compliance through data and alerting, but I had never come across a sector where IoT could have such a large impact as it can in social housing.

“Being able to proactively manage housing stock, providing better connected services to our tenants and providing technology to support the wellbeing of our tenants are key areas where we see IoT supporting our future services.”

It was an interesting day which made us all look at different ways that technology could improve how we work. We will be looking to see where we can move forward with IoT across Aspire.