Stirling is undergoing the largest social housing rollout of internet of things (IoT) technologies in the UK, with 50,000 devices set to revolutionise tenants’ understanding of environmental conditions in homes.

The deployment carried out by home safety tech giant Aico follows a trial across the council region, which has involved remote sensors monitoring temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide (CO2) gas levels, along with smoke detection sensors set to dramatically improve the health, safety and wellbeing of residents.

This is the first full rollout of a multi-technology and sensors connected home solution across an entire housing portfolio stock and currently the ‘largest UK social housing sector rollout’, with 50,000 IoT devices being installed over the next 8-10 years in homes managed by Stirling Council Housing Service. 

Environmental sensors around the properties will alert the council in real-time and provide early warning of damp, mould, ventilation and any other potential issues, while helping the tenant to understand energy consumption levels with heating their home.

In a time of fuel poverty, connected devices more often seen in private dwellings are emerging as a powerful tool ensuring social homes are healthy to live in and used in an energy efficient manner. Homes will also benefit from a significant fire safety upgrade and be equipped with connected smoke, heat and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.

Having the ability to identify the least thermally efficient homes means that Stirling Council as a landlord can take intelligence led decisions to target capital investment programmes at those properties. The Fuel Poverty Act (Scotland), also seeks to protect residents of all households but particularly those in rural, highland and island communities from facing fuel poverty. Stirling Council has around 20 per cent of its housing portfolio in rural areas.

Under the scheme, residents gain access to information on their home’s condition and handy advice on the measures they can take to improve the quality of their home via a dedicated App for Residents.

The deployment follows a successful pilot project which provided tenants with a comprehensive view of the internal air quality environment in their homes. The initial pilot was part of the Scottish Government’s CivTech programme, which aims to drive innovation in collaborative and cost-effective technology across the public sector.

Aico (HomeLINK) state that across the UK more than 150,000 IoT devices are connected in tenants’ homes and in use by social landlords. Based on current demand this number is expected to hit a million devices by the end of 2024 bringing about a paradigm shift in landlords’ efforts to comply both with regulations but also in offering tenants a better understanding of their home’s environment.

Private sector landlords are already using connected IoT devices to pre-empt issues. By connecting all of its housing stock, Stirling Council will continue to make intelligence-led and data based decisions when maintenance teams now conduct regular safety checks, planning staff can identify trends and improvements, plan budgets and make property investment decisions. It will also trigger preventative maintenance measures by alerting staff to early causes of deterioration in a property’s environment.

Residents using the free App gain a view of the safety and health of their indoor environment. The app also provides advice and guidance on how to improve living conditions, and live a healthier and safer life whilst reducing carbon footprint and saving money on energy bills.

Tenant Robert Cairney said: “I was initially sceptical about what the sensors and technology being put into my home would bring in terms of financial or health benefits. However, by recording moisture in the air, I can be alerted to the risk of damp and mould. Rather than having to keep an eye out for these things myself, my landlord also better knows when it is time to come and do repairs or maintenance work on the property.

“This new IoT technology for homes like mine is fantastic because it helps me to feel safer, live in a healthier environment, and reduce costs. I’m more aware of how my home is behaving, and alerted to ways I can save money by using this free cutting edge connected home kit. For example, wasting money trying to heat a home that has gaps in the doors and windows letting heat out, or an inefficient boiler and room heaters that need bleeding. Everyone is concerned about the rising costs of energy but, thanks to these improvements, it’s not a question of eat or heat for me now.”