Renfrewshire uses internet of things technology to detect fuel poverty

Written by Jenni Davidson on 24 January 2018 in News

A network of sensors is monitoring temperature, humidity and CO2 in social housing in Paisley

 

Fuel poverty - Image credit: PA Images

Internet of things technology is being trialled in social housing in Renfrewshire to help detect fuel poverty and other housing issues.

A network of sensors is being used to monitor temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels at 50 social properties around Paisley.

Capturing this data in near real time allows Renfrewshire Council to identify anomalies and take action to support tenants and protect property.

High humidity and low temperatures, for example, could suggest a tenant is living in fuel poverty, while high carbon dioxide levels mean there might be a problem with ventilation and air quality.

The pilot scheme, which has been running since July 2016, is being used to monitor a range of properties, including flats, detached houses and terraces. 

So far, the project has helped the council to spot a number of potential issues, including homes with damp problems, tenants who needed help with their heating systems and several occupants living in fuel poverty.

The data from the sensors is currently transferred over Wi-Fi, but will move onto Renfrewshire’s low power wide area network (LPWAN), using LoRaWAN technology – also known as a LoRa network.

All of the residents at the properties being monitored have opted into the scheme.

The project is being run for Renfrewshire Council by smart asset management company iOpt Assets.

It has delivered an estimated 600 per cent return on investment to the council, by preventing costs that would have arisen from damage to properties over the next two years.

David Amos, Head of Policy and Commissioning at Renfrewshire Council, said that the health of the council’s tenants was “of paramount concern”.

He continued: “iOpt Assets’ easy to install technology gives us the ability to spot problems they have with energy or any issues with their housing that might affect their health.

“It will also help us take preventative action, where necessary, to protect, manage, or even improve our homes – from damp and moisture detection, to issues with air quality.

“The council is working with partners to create an environment in Renfrewshire that supports the testing and deployment of innovative internet of things technology and we were delighted to have facilitated this successful test with iOpt Assets.”

Stephen Milne, Business Development Manager at CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems, added: “This is an excellent example of the IoT in action, delivering significant benefits to society and business.

“Damp in homes has been linked to the development of conditions like asthma.

“At the same time, iOpt’s technology could help Renfrewshire save on asset management – it shows how technology can be used to help everyone.

“With six LoRa networks in operation, stretching from Orkney to Paisley, there are a broad range of trials going on across the country that could have a serious impact on how we use technology in the future, from flood prevention to monitoring emissions in cities.”

By the end of the year, iOpt Assets hopes to have rolled out the sensing technology to 2,000 homes in Scotland, spread across a variety of local authorities and housing associations.

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