Flagship pioneering use of the ‘Internet of Things’ in managing social housing with Ipswich pilot scheme

A demonstration of the smart lock technology which forms part of the Internet of Things trial at 12

A demonstration of the smart lock technology which forms part of the Internet of Things trial at 12 of Flagship's flats in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

East Anglian housing provider Flagship has teamed up with a number of local companies to launch a pilot scheme which could transform the way the sector operates.

It involves free wi-fi and other technology upgrades which have been installed in 12 flats in Ipswich, with the aim of improving communications and reducing costs for both Flagship and its customers.

The trail aims to understand how smart technology and the “Internet of Things” – the connection of everyday appliances to the internet, allowing them to send and receive data – can help improve the management of properties as well as everyday life for their residents.

Besides the wi-fi, which is accessible to Flagship customers and staff, it involves smart-locks on communal and hallway doors, CCTV cameras in communal areas and smart thermostats for controlling heating.

Marie-Claire Delbrouque, director of housing and customer insight at Flagship, said: “This is a unique step forward in creating an improved service for our customers. The use of iPads and smart phones allows them to communicate more efficiently as they can pay their rent and log a repair online immediately, which also reduces the number of calls made to our contact centre.

“The tenants we are using for the trial have been very receptive and are looking forward to seeing how the new technology will make their lives easier. We hope the next few months will be a success with the prospect of rolling it out across the company in the near future.”

Norwich-based Flagship’s partners in the project include WiSpire, also based in the city, which is providing the wi-fi, Dereham-based DoorsPlus, which is providing the smart locks and CCTV, and Switchee, which has developed a smart thermostat specifically for social housing.

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Steve Batson, operations director at WiSpire, said: “Connectivity is the key to releasing and enabling the important benefits that this project offers and, with its expertise in this area, WiSpire is very pleased to be supporting the delivery of this project.”

David Burton of DoorsPlus added: “We have a long term and positive relationship with Flagship. We’re always looking at new technology ourselves and it’s nice to find another company which is also embracing new technology.”