Event round-up: Innovators Network: Harnessing Tech to Prevent Damp and Mould
The Innovators Network is a forum for councils to enable and empower them to connect with innovators to access the latest technologies in a neutral forum to help solve some of the most pressing challenges they face. This session provided a safe and neutral space to connect innovators from across the ecosystem to better understand the challenge and what is possible when it comes to addressing the damp and mould crisis.
Due to new amendments to the Social Housing Regulation Bill, social landlords are now required to investigate and fix damp and mould issues in affected properties within strict time limits. In February 2023, the Regulator of Social Housing published the “Damp and mould in social housing: initial findings” report, which involved local authorities and private housing providers to understand how the issue is tackled and what changes are necessary. As a result, this will trigger from April 2024, more active consumer regulation of social housing.
As the damp and mould issue in social housing becomes an increasingly more complex task to deal with, we explored how can tech and digital innovation support local authorities and housing associations with their strategy on tackling damp and mould issues and managing risks.
We began the day with short presentations to set the scene from:
- Dewbien Plummer, Housing Solutions Director, Capita
- Gladys Xavier, Director of Public Health & Commissioning, Redbridge Council
- Heather Clark, Head of External Funding and Digital Projects, City of Wolverhampton Council
The discussions addressed why mould appears in UK homes (poor ventilation, leaks, condensation, insulation, fuel poverty, overcrowding of buildings with high occupant density) and how we can use tech innovation to prevent this from happening, as it can have serious effects on health conditions. Tech, whether through sensors. IoT platforms, dashboards and apps, can help with record keeping, data analysis, systems talking to each other, however we need to ensure training and upskilling are available for social housing workers.
We also looked into City of Wolverhampton’s digital plans and how they are using digital infrastructure to transform delivery of services and unlock potential. As a use case, they highlighted the home sensors (e.g., measuring heat and humidity) they use to support independent living, identifying if there are issues that are going to cause health problems, and ensuring a better quality of life for vulnerable residents. Wolverhampton homes are also piloting measures around damp and mould, working with housing system NEC to develop data analytics tool to predict issues and with Oxford Brookes University to develop an AI tool to diagnose sources, type, risk of damp and mould using photos. However, the key challenge is the cost to accelerate the roll out to 20 000 properties which is about £12mil.
A few other challenges discussed during the roundtable were:
- Ensuring the digital infrastructure is in place to support the roll of tech and systems communication.
- Understanding how to collect, analyse and use data, as well as where the responsibility and liability lies.
- Ensuring effective communication with residents to emphasise the benefits of adopting this type of tech e.g., sensors in homes, and how it can improve their lives.
- The communication between different stakeholders (housing providers, health, private landlords) involved in solving the damp and mould crisis needs to be improved, as well as councils looking at the adoption of best practice.
- Ensuring funding is available for the roll out and implementing of tech solutions.
- Creating proof of concepts and pilots to create the business case.
Thank you to everyone who joined us.
Please get in touch with us at [email protected] if you have other challenges or topics that could be addressed in the context of an Innovators Network event.
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Georgina is techUK’s Associate Director for Local Public Services
Georgina works with suppliers that are active or looking to break into the market as well as with local public services to create the conditions for meaningful transformation. techUK regularly bring together local public services and supplier community to horizon scan and explore how the technologies of today and tomorrow can help solve some of the most pressing problems our communities face and improve outcomes for our people and places.
Prior to techUK, Georgina worked for a public policy events company where she managed the policy briefing division and was responsible for generating new ideas for events that would add value to the public sector. Georgina worked across a number of portfolios from education, criminal justice, and health but had a particular interest in public sector transformation and technology. Georgina also led on developing relationships across central and local government.
If you’d like to learn more about techUK, or want to get involved, get in touch.
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Ileana Lupsa is the Programme Manager for Local Public Services and Nations and Regions, at techUK.
Ileana studied electronics, telecommunications and IT as an undergraduate, followed by an MSc in engineering and project management at Coventry University.
She refined her programme management expertise through her most recent roles working in the automotive industry.
Ileana is passionate about sustainability and creating a positive impact globally through innovation.
Tracy supports several areas at techUK, including Cyber Exchange, Cyber Security, Defence, Health and Social Care, Local Public Services, Nations and Regions and National Security.
Tracy joined techUK in March 2022, having worked in the education sector for 19 years, covering administration, research project support, IT support and event/training support. My most outstanding achievement has been running three very successful international conferences and over 300 training courses booked all over the globe!
Tracy has a great interest in tech. Gaming and computing have been a big part of her life, and now electric cars are an exciting look at the future. She has warmed to Alexa, even though it can sometimes be sassy!
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