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As supporters of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, we were delighted to exhibit at the recent SFHA Conference. The Conference took place on the 10th/11th June at Radisson Blu, Glasgow. One of the Panel Sessions we were particularly interested in attending (but couldn’t as it was a sell out conference) was “The Sector in 2040”. On the panel was Matthew Gardiner, Head of Ideation, L&Q; Professor Duncan Maclennan, Professor of Public Policy, University of Glasgow (CaCHE) and Ruth Glassborow, Director of Improvement Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Thanks to the presentations being made available following the conference, we were able to get an insight into the discussion.

The Sector in 2040 – Matthew Gardiner

As a software business, we were particularly interested in the presentation given by Matthew Gardiner, where his over-riding theme was, “A lot can happen in a generation”.

Matthew’s presentation highlighted how the world around us will change in a generation – by 2040. More people, older people, the effects and repercussions of climate change and the reality that there will be 73 million people living in the UK, meaning the housing crisis will continue, were just a few of the changes that we are all faced with.

Towards the end of Matthew’s talk, he states that, “Whatever happens, in 10 years time digital must be in our DNA.”

We would like to take this a stage further and argue that, whatever happens, digital must be in our DNA yesterday. Matthew highlights that we must mix on and off line experiences to build engagement and community – and we agree. We must utilise technology to enhance community and human interaction and use data to make people’s lives better and easier.

He gives the example of:
What we do now: We know the lift has broken after the event and have to wait for parts.
Best practice: We always have the parts in stock.
Next practice: Internet of Things means we can detect and fix them before they happen.
How can we move beyond: Fully self-repairing houses?

The Sector in 2020 – CPL Software

We believe that the technology already exists and is available to reach Stage 3 – What is the next practice. With the right technology and process in place, management can use data to predict trends and prevent breakages or faults before they happen.

How? One aspect of Property Factoring in Housing Associations involves inspecting and monitoring buildings.  This provides customers with a healthy, safe and comfortable environment in which to live. Servicing and inspecting lifts will help identify if there is a pattern or reason for the lift breaking. And if so, taking action to intercept or prevent the lift from breaking. If the lift in a building breaks every six months, but is serviced only once a year, would increasing the service to twice per annum prevent the lift from breaking? Is there a particular part that keeps failing? If so, how can we work with the engineers or supplier to rectify this? At a very basic level, this could be as simple as tracking when light bulbs need replaced and replacing them before they blow. This level of attention to detail will alleviate the workload on staff as these tasks become part of a scheduled calendar rather than having to react.

If inspections are carried out at regular intervals and data gathered consistently, management, boards and committees can instruct staff to take action. We have the technology now, we must get better at using it in a strategic and focused manner.

Let’s not wait. Housing Associations can put measures in place now to move away from ‘what we do now’ to having digital in our DNA by 2020. We have what we need now to do it, we simply need the ‘want’.

If you would like to know how CPL Software can help your Housing Association make changes now rather than waiting until 2040, please contact a member of the CPL team 

You can find out more about Matthew’s presentation you can download the slide deck from the SFHA website.