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Housing 2021 shows move to digital services is a major priority for the sector

Image for Housing 2021 shows move to digital services is a major priority for the sector

This time last week the Alertacall team were just beginning to pack down our stall after a fantastic three days at Housing 2021, at Manchester Central.

Of course, we know as well as anyone how valuable remote contact can be. But after missing out on ‘in-person’ events for so long it was great to showcase our products to people face-to-face once more.

In particular, there was a lot of interest in our demo suite showcasing the latest innovations we have been introducing to social landlords over the last year and how these can be combined with our Housing Proactive service.

Housing Proactive is an alternative to hardwired systems and comes at less than half the price of replacing or upgrading this more traditional equipment. The service is primarily delivered through a portable touchscreen (with an any network SIM card), which gives residents the choice of using self-service features or engaging directly with a trained member of the Alertacall team. When implemented with WiFi, the service can integrate with a range of other services, inc. video door entry and video calling.

It was clear that making the move away from expensive hardwired alarm systems is a major priority for the sector, particularly due to Digital Switchover approaching in 2025. However, housing professionals were also focused on increasing functionality and also improving two-way engagement with residents to help address the main aims of the Social Housing White Paper. Housing Proactive can achieve all of these goals at once.

Reimagining resident services in supported housing with Saffron

One of the highlights of Housing 2021 was a session on Digital Switchover hosted by Benjamin Lambert, our head of client relations, and Hannah Harvey, executive director at Saffron Housing Trust, in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Hannah was able to give a practical example of how Saffron worked with Alertacall to decommission hardwired systems and introduce Housing Proactive at eight of its supported schemes. This involved providing residents with an easy-to-use device equipped with our ‘OKEachDay’ button. Residents press the button each day to pick up news and information from Saffron, or they are called by a friendly, highly trained member of the Alertacall team.

The system delivered significant savings for Saffron compared to replacing its hardwired system and also improved daily contact with residents. Benefits include reducing social isolation and giving residents a choice over how they interact with the housing service, as well as making it easier for Saffron to monitor their needs and deliver messages to them either as a group or individually.

However, as Benjamin pointed out, upgrading to IoT and WiFi-based systems are much more than something which is ‘nice to have’ in supported housing. As analogue hardwired systems reach the end of their lifespans and Digital Switchover approaches it is essential for providers to install new technology.

Benjamin also looked at how introducing WiFi can unlock other services such as video door entry and video calling, which can be combined with digital telecare and state-of-the-art smoke alarms.

The session also explored how the move to digital enhanced housing management and telecare can help address other challenges, including:

  • accommodating the needs of older people who want to stay in their own homes
  • continuing service delivery despite Covid-19 restrictions
  • enhancing fire safety measures following the Grenfell Tower disaster and the Fire Safety Act 2021
A housing-led approach to combating homelessness

Homelessness was one of the major issues on the agenda at Housing 2021.

In his video appearance on day three of the event, Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said combating homelessness would require a “serious, concerted effort” this autumn.

Chartered Institute of Housing president Jo Richardson also used her address to focus on Homeful, the presidential campaign which aims to combat the issue, including via housing-led approaches to resolve and prevent homelessness.

At Alertacall we are working with a number of social landlords to help people as they make the move back into their own homes. We know they are going to have a varying range of needs as they make the transition in temporary accommodation. This could include everything from requiring a digital device to make contact with their housing provider, assistance with day-to-day maintenance issues, or simply the need for a friendly and helpful chat with a member of our team.

We are excited about taking the many benefits our solutions provide and offering a helping hand to people on this important stepping stone back to independent living. We look forward to announcing more on the progress of this project in early 2022.

For more information on a comprehensive alternative to ageing hardwired systems or how we can work with you to help your organisation combat homelessness, you can contact our team by emailing, or call 0808 208 1234.