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IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
April 14, 2023


Lithium-Ion batteries. A guide to the fire risk that isn’t going away but can be managed

Social housing

Fire safety in social housing: People, process & technology have to collaborate to achieve digital transformation

Jaison Mathai, Software Product Manager at FireAngel Safety Technology, shares his insight on how we can accelerate technology adoption to improve safety outcomes in social housing.

It is not easy to make a product simple. Take ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot developed by OpenAI that has been making headlines since its launch last November. Users enter a prompt and the software provides a detailed response.


Jaison Mathai, Software Product Manager at FireAngel Safety Technology

But, what would ChatGPT be without the sophisticated technology and years of research behind it? 

My goal is to make technology accessible to help solve some of the most complex problems – threats to safety from fire, carbon monoxide, and cold, damp and mould risks.

However, developing solutions is only half of the journey. Widespread adoption of advanced technology relies on the mindsets of the people involved in the process. The future of ChatGPT, for example, will depend on how it is accepted and integrated into our society.  

Social housing – A changing landscape ready to adopt new tech?

The social housing sector has been slow to accept and integrate innovative technology platforms, partly because the list of complex challenges the sector faces is extensive, from decarbonisation to navigating Universal Credit cuts, digital transformation journeys can fall down the priority list. Concerns over privacy, financial cost, regulatory control and cyber security have also presented key barriers to acceptance.

However, over the past two years, there has been a transformational shift towards adoption. 

Social housing associations are recognising that implementing safety technology is not another goal on their to-do list, but an essential step to protect the quality of life of residents and help drive the death count down to zero. This shift has evolved from a greater awareness of the technology available, and increasing scrutiny from regulators, residents and the wider public.

As we witness this fundamental movement, earlier barriers to acceptance are becoming obstacles to be overcome, rather than roadblocks. 

In August 2024, the UK Government will introduce new cyber security regulations, which will impact safety technology in social housing, particularly in terms of data protection and privacy. The regulations, which apply to all organisations that supply critical national infrastructure, will demand compliance with cyber security standards demonstrated by regular testing and auditing.

Read more: How IoT can ‘transform’ fire safety for the most vulnerable

This will help introduce standardisation to the industry, ensuring social housing associations can evaluate and select the Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that comply with standards or open protocols that allow integration with other devices and systems.  

However, while the regulatory change will put social housing providers at ease in terms of privacy and security concerns, they will also face increasing pressure to evolve and adapt to achieve compliance.

IoTSmartBuilding-FireSafety-AlamyStock-22Manufacturers will need to ensure that these solutions are simple to use and implement to allow under-resourced organisations to manage the transformation without the need to source additional expertise. 

“Adoption of IoT a significant step change for the sector”

As regulations continue to tighten, people and processes must also keep pace. The great wealth of data that comes with digitisation offers a revolutionary opportunity for housing providers to fundamentally shift their working practices.

Tapping into data from IoT sensors can flag potential maintenance and safety issues and help deliver social value by ensuring quality and safe accommodation. IoT can also help housing associations provide adequate resources to support their tenants including the most vulnerable in society.

But this will be a significant step change for a sector that has been traditionally reactive over proactive.  

To prepare for the shift, social housing associations must engage tenants, staff and other stakeholders to generate support for IoT technology by showcasing its value through initial pilots and selecting solutions providers that focus on improving the user experience.  

Looking ahead, the widespread adoption of potentially life-saving technology is underway but requires a cultural shift to reach its full potential, so that people, processes and technology can work together to take resident safety to previously unachievable levels. 


Secure your ticket for FIREX 2023!

16-18 May 2023, ExCeL London | Bringing competency in fire safety to the forefront

Connect with the fire safety community at FIREX 2023. You'll find hundreds of leading exhibitors from the active and passive fire sector, showcasing all the latest in fire protection, prevention and detection solutions. With third-party product approvals a condition of exhibiting, visitors can be assured of the quality of solutions they're seeing, and the all-new distributor network is also launching this year.

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