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Researchers develop toolkit to harness social value of smart homes IoT


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Sensor fixed to wall
Image source: AicoǀHomeLink

A team from the University of Exeter and two housing organisations have taken part in the development of a guide and toolkit to help develop the social value of internet of things (IoT) sensors for smart homes.

The UK Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT) and Coastline Housing have worked on the project with a team the university’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health and technology supplier AicoǀHomeLINK.

They said it comes in response to the increasing use of environmental sensors by social housing providers.

A spokesperson for AicoǀHomeLINK said the research project is in its final stages and the guide and toolkit – titled Sensor systems for healthier social housing – is expected to be available in March.

The university researchers and have been working with Coastline Housing – which manages over 5,000 homes in Cornwall – as part of the Smartline project, testing and evaluating the usefulness of an indoor environment sensor system for a social housing provider.

They were supported by AicoǀHomeLink in mapping out inputs such as humidity levels and applied HACT’s Social Value Insight tool in mapping outcomes such as condensation levels. This led to the development of a logic model to identify what changes need to be made early to improve an indoor environment, such as opening windows or improving the use of heating.

Lack of understanding

Emma Bland, associate professor in environment, health and wellbeing at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “This technology has the potential to deliver organisational benefits in social housing. However, there is lack of understanding about the broader social value gained from such systems, and the best practice for adoption. 

“This project builds on many years of research including the groundbreaking Smartline project, which focused on more than 200 social households across six years and will strengthen existing and foster new partnerships between University of Exeter, the social housing sector, and the sensor industry.”

The research team was supported by funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s Impact Accelerator Account.

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