Following a successful pilot in 2022, an East London Housing Association, is extending the roll out of connected IoT devices across a total of 6,000 homes.

The environmental sensors have been designed to provide Poplar HARCA and their residents with data that helps them to identify any issues in their homes, including damp and mould monitoring, ventilation, fuel poverty and indoor air quality.

Poor quality housing causes a substantial drain on public resources, with an estimated cost to the NHS in England of £1.4bn to treat those experiencing health effects attributed to living in poor housing. In 2019, it was estimated that the NHS spent £2.5bn in treating illnesses that were directly linked to cold, damp and other hazards in homes, such as mould.

The pilot phase started in November 2022, when Poplar HARCA installed 2,000 devices in the first 486 homes. Now the second phase of the roll out will see more than 15,000 devices installed in 3,000 homes over the next 12 months.

Poplar HARCA owns and manages over 10,000 homes, community centres, commercial offices and shops in the East End of London, all located within a compact area of just four square miles. They chose to deploy these devices to help them protect residents.

Additionally, the sensors are collecting data on temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide across Poplar HARCA’s portfolio. Tenants can use an app to access information about the conditions within their homes, while landlords can use the Portal for live data updates.

Each property has its own gateway, giving the housing association a complete overview, whether for one house or a block of flats. This live data is gathered by environmental sensors, and alerts users via the app to any issues in terms of poor indoor air quality, cold homes or overheating, damp and mould, and condensation – all of which have been proven to be seriously damaging to residents’ health if left unresolved. For those residents that are unsure about using apps, alternative methods of communicating alerts, including SMS messages, emails and post are available.

Taking this a step further, the Signature of Mould Insight provides a tool to analyse the root cause of a damp and mould issue, comparing potential ‘Structural’ issues with the fabric of the property, to potential ‘Environmental’ issues relating to how the property is used. This knowledge enables landlords to take targeted action to resolve damp and mould, meaning resources are used efficiently and the conditions within residents’ homes are improved in good time.

Elizabeth Williams, assistant director of asset management, Poplar HARCA, said: “The goal is to have safer, greener, healthier homes. While still at a relatively early stage, this rollout is already having tangible benefits to asset management at Poplar HARCA. In properties where devices are fitted, we’re able to support residents before mould proliferates which benefits their health and reduces our operating costs. This is a great achievement in itself.”

By receiving notifications from the IoT devices, Poplar HARCA is able to automate repair requests across all of their homes. They have set up their own dedicated project team including experts in IoT technology, data analysis and project management who work closely with the property management team to ensure that the IoT project aligns with the housing association’s overall business objectives.

The sensor technologies also provide a strong return on investment for landlords who will ultimately improve the quality of their homes, keep costs low with preventative maintenance, and ensure they are compliant with the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.