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Episode 4 (part 1) The future of homes: Homes of the 1950s or 2020s?

In this episode of Raising the roof we chat about how we’re currently using innovation in social housing and looking ahead, what the homes of the future could look like.

Our CEO and host Nick Atkin is joined by Paul Taylor, Innovation coach at Bromford and Darren Williams, Lead innovator here at Yorkshire Housing.

Episode highlights

Paul compares innovation in social housing with other industries, explaining: “In the social housing space, you’ve got the people – the tenant (the customer) – you’ve got a housing officer, you’ve got an engineer. You’ve got a physical asset – the home. You’ve probably got some emerging self-service portal or something like that. But we haven’t got a machine in the middle of it. We haven’t got something like Google have done where they’ve almost like planted an AI (machine learning) within our lives to think about how things are fundamentally easier.”

Commenting on how we can help customers adopt new technology in their homes, Darren says: “I think it’s about partly making it as seamless as possible and easy, almost invisible. There’s the Arthur C. Clarke quote: ‘Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic’. Basically, we want to inject a bit of magic into our (tenant’s) customers’ lives.”

Highlighting the new possibilities and benefits technology could offer customers and the wider social housing sector, Paul says: “If you think about how we could (how we could) plant a machine in that loop to think about actually how people can run the home more efficiently, look after the home more efficiently. Going back to the Google glasses example, see it through their eyes and not ours – I think that is a huge possibility. It’s one of the things I really want to collaborate with other housing associations on.”

Darren talks us through customer reactions to a recent innovation project which used drones to survey roofs and high-level areas instead of traditional scaffolding. He explains: “We were a bit worried that tenants wouldn’t be accepting of the drones. So we wrote to all the residents in these areas, all the leaseholders, all the tenants. We told them what we were doing, why we were doing it, and to make sure we could capture any concerns or questions, I put my mobile number on the letter. We didn’t get any, none at all … I think what we learnt from there is that tenants are a lot more accepting of this technology than we assume they are.”

The future of homes: Homes of the 1950s or 2020s?

by Yorkshire Housing

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About the host

About the host

Nick Atkin, CEO at Yorkshire Housing

Nick has a track record of leading organisations through transformational change and driving performance improvement, with a focus on maximising the untapped potential from businesses and people.

Born and brought up in Doncaster he joined Yorkshire Housing in 2019. Since this time, he’s delivered transformational change throughout the business to meet the future opportunities and challenges.

About the guests

About the guests

Paul Taylor, Innovation coach at Bromford

Paul leads research, development, and innovation at Bromford – a housing association with 44,000 homes in central England. He’s worked in the housing sector for over 20 years.

Paul is an expert in all things innovation, with lots of experience in strategy development, marketing, customer experience and product design. He’s a regular speaker and adviser on innovation and also a frequent contributor to publications.

About the guests

About the guests

Darren Williams, Lead innovator at Yorkshire Housing

Darren’s worked in housing since 2015 and joined Yorkshire Housing in April 2020. Prior to this, he worked in housing benefits at Wakefield Council before making the move to follow his passion for IT and technology.

Darren’s involved in lots of exciting innovation projects here at Yorkshire Housing. He recently worked on a pilot using drones to survey high-level areas and create othomosiac 3D rendors of the properties. He has also proposed a series of proof of concepts to learn what technology is right for Yorkshire Housing to be a leader in smart homes.