The Enhancing Housing Services through Innovation 2017 Conference took place on 11th July and was attended by over 240 senior leaders from across housing associations, central and local government and charities.
As the digital transformation of the social housing sector firmly takes hold, this year’s conference looked at new and cutting edge technologies that are shaping the way that housing services are managed and delivered. This year, techUK’s Head of Public Sector, Rob Driver presented on how Government can deliver the ‘Smarter State’, and explored what parallels can be drawn with enhancing housing services through innovation and technology. Key themes included:
Putting tech at the Heart of Government
As there is no area of Government where tech is not a vital consideration, it was highlighted that one Minister in every Department should be given responsibility for tech. These Ministers would be responsible for driving consistent implementation of the UK Digital Strategy as well as aligning with the Government Transformation Strategy. As such, a Minister within the Department for Communities and Local Government should be appointed with responsibility for tech to ensure the Department’s responsibility for housing is consistent with the wider Government transformation and innovation agendas.
Other leadership examples were highlighted, including the partnership work between techUK and HACT to place leading players from the UK’s digital economy on housing provider boards.
Unlocking the Next Wave of Digital Transformation
Throughout the conference, a wide range of examples were highlighted of housing services being at the forefront of delivering innovative solutions to improve outcomes for users of services – particularly through adoption of Internet of Things (IoT).
For housing services to build on these successful examples across the country and for IoT to deliver even greater benefits across housing services and the wider public sector the Government must renew its level of ambition and commitment to adoption across public services. Fundamental to this will be working with industry to develop solution frameworks for housing services to help providers better understand and buy IoT Services.
Adopting a Digital First Mind-set to Devolution
The creation of Metro-Mayors and other newly devolved forms of Government has given significant budgetary power to local areas, including powers and influence for housing. As part of ‘digital devolution’ a more integrated approach can be taken, getting housing partners, local authorities, and social care to take a ‘whole places’ approach to better sharing of data to design more predictive and effective services. Chief Digital Officers, and a digital devolution dividend, will be fundamental enablers to achieve this integration.
Rob Driver, Head of Public Sector at techUK commented:
“What is clear is that the UK housing sector has a phenomenal opportunity to lead the next wave of digital government transformation. However, with technology increasingly the driver for innovation in the public sector, Government and service providers must be willing to experiment with new transformational approaches, and harness a competitive supplier landscape in doing so.”