Smart homes and social housing

At Gateshead Innovation Village we’re developing smart homes to research the benefits that emerging technologies offer both customers and providers of social housing...

As well as testing construction methods, we’re partnering with leading smart tech companies to see how, if at all, smart tech can be used in social housing. We want to explore how we can deliver our mission to build independence and aspirations using technology traditionally considered out of the reach of many people in society.

A handful of our modular homes will be fitted with smart tech, but all of our homes will be monitored so we can compare performance and the experience of living with, and without, the different technologies. Our partners will be supporting with the research and ongoing monitoring of the tech performance in different building types and with various heat solutions. This will in turn help us to learn which technologies the construction industry should invest in.

Smart home technology in social housing

What is a smart home?

When we talk about a smart home we mean using technologies in the home that can learn about the building, the environment, and the people living in it. They then use this information to adapt and automate tasks to make them as efficient as possible.

It’s all about making life easier, like lights that respond to the brightness in a room and automatically dim to guide you to the bathroom in the night so you don’t disturb your family, or a front door that unlocks when it knows you’re home and your hands are full of shopping.

Is there a place for smart technology in social housing?

A smart thermostat runs your heating in the most efficient way; it adapts to your lifestyle so it knows what rooms to heat up; understands when to switch on and off; and how long it takes to heat your home. By creating energy-efficient homes with reduced fuel bills smart technology has a role to play in tackling  the “fuel poverty” experienced by many people living in social housing.

It goes beyond economic benefits; smart technology can contribute to a wider sense of wellbeing. For example, knowing you have an intelligent security system watching over you increases your feeling of safety in the neighbourhood. Or being able to automate time-consuming tasks frees up more leisure time if you are busy.

And there’s also indirect benefits.

As a housing association if we can find new ways to monitor the performance of our properties then we’re able to create better plans. We can design maintenance schedules that reduce our repair bills by anticipating issues before they occur and use cheaper, preventative fixes. And that’s good for everyone.

Smart technology is changing today's homes and at Gateshead Innovation Village we want to test the idea that investment in smart technology is the right thing for our customers and for providers of social housing, because we believe everyone should enjoy the benefits it brings.