Today’s digital strategies need to reflect ‘Digital Switchover’, when analogue telephone networks will turn off, upgrading to digital technology known as ‘voice over internet protocol’ (VoIP).
This has significant implications for social housing providers, especially where hard wired alarms or warden intercoms are in place. As they were not designed to work with internet technologies, this equipment may not work post Digital Switchover. Moreover, a provider with 1000 supported housing properties could require millions of pounds to implement a Digital Switchover ready upgrade.
Why is Digital Switchover an opportunity?
Hard wired alarms and warden call systems were designed before most people had telephones in their homes, and provided a method for housing officers to communicate with residents. Sheltered housing providers now have an opportunity to reimagine service offerings and improve efficiency.
Alertacall, recent recipients of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, offers an award-winning alternative to hard wired systems. At the heart is a portable 8-inch touchscreen, with built-in connectivity requiring no hard-wiring.
The core service includes a free repairs reporting app, OKEachDay daily contact system, flexible two-way messaging, five different methods of communication and customisation options. The touchscreen is then augmented by sensors, detectors, dispersed alarms, video door entry and calling capability to provide a complete Digital Switchover solution.
The approach dramatically improves the resident experience Portable touchscreens are placed conveniently, residents love being able to use the door entry system from the comfort of their armchair, and not using a panel on the wall. Improved contact means residents are better informed and feel safer in their homes. This is achieved through WiFi, avoiding the need to hard wire individual properties, resulting in less disruption and cheaper installation costs.
Is WiFi reliable?
The right WiFi is extremely reliable. High quality, hospital grade WiFi, is a completely different animal to the set ups we have in our homes. Many critical systems already rely on WiFi, such as in the military, hospitals, and in organisations where high security is essential. Furthermore, several steps also ensure continuity of service, like multi-network sim cards and back-up batteries. WiFi also enables other equipment to be connected such as CCTV, and can address digital exclusion by giving residents internet access.
Saffron Housing Trust used Alertacall to move from hard wired alarm systems in 230 homes. They saved several hundred thousand pounds. Tracey Harris, Head of Wellbeing & Partnerships commented that:
“It has been a very positive experience working with Alertacall, with no negative comments from customers. The technology upgrade has been well received by tenants and is in line with our Digital Agenda. The service has also enabled Saffron to get important messages to our tenants in a timely fashion.”
Alternatives to hard wiring really do offer more for a lower cost, and are fully compliant with all regulations.