Stirling rolls out home environmental monitoring

  • November 7, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Following an IoT working trial with UK firm Aico, Stirling Council in Scotland is carrying out a wider rollout that includes environmental sensors to collect information around tenant’s homes.

Collected data will include temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide (CO2) gas levels, along with smoke detection sensors, and should improve the health, safety and wellbeing of residents. Tenants will be able to take actionable measures from insights via a free mobile app and analytics portal.

This is the first full rollout of the multi technology and sensors connected home offering across an entire housing portfolio stock and is the largest UK social housing sector rollout, with 50,000 IoT devices being installed over the next decade in homes managed by Stirling Council.

Environmental sensors around the properties will alert the council in real time and provide early warning of damp, mould, ventilation and other potential problems, while helping tenants understand energy consumption levels when heating their homes.

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 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 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 a fifth of its housing portfolio in rural areas.

Residents gain access to information on their homes’ condition and handy advice on the measures they can take to improve the quality of their homes via a dedicated app for residents.

The long-term rollout follows a pilot project and sees Stirling Council providing tenants with a comprehensive view of the internal air quality environment in their homes. The initial pilot was part of a Scottish government funded programme called CivTech, which aimed to drive innovation in collaborative and cost-effective technology across the public sector.

Several private sector landlords are already using connected IoT devices to pre-empt issues. By connecting all its housing stock, Stirling Council will continue to make intelligence led and data-based decisions about when maintenance teams 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 while reducing carbon footprint and saving money on energy bills.

“I was initially sceptical about what the sensors and technology being put into my home would bring in terms of financial or health benefits,” said tenant Robert Cairney. “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.”

A spokesperson for Stirling Council added: “This technology helps us manage our housing stock through reliable data driven intelligence, take prioritised investment decisions and improve customer satisfaction. When considering our sustainability goals, the data generated will help us identify the least energy-efficient homes and take action. It will also provide insight into the performance of properties that have been recently retrofitted to ensure they remain healthy environments to live in.”

Shropshire-based Aico, an Ei company, specialises in home life safety, pioneering technologies and offering alarms, developed and manufactured in Ireland. All Aico alarms meet UK standards and have various sensor types to protect every home.

In 2020, Aico expanded its connected oome offering with the acquisition of IoT provider HomeLink, a high-tech software team that leverages home integration and analytic technologies to address the needs of social landlords and their residents.