How we are using data to provide better quality housing

By Elly Hoult

Every business and industry is determined to produce reliable and accessible data for business these days, so that we make the best decisions. In my role, good data is vital strategically and operationally. We rely on the timely and accurate data for the big decisions - such as how much money we must spend between now and 2050 to achieve net-carbon zero to small ones – has a specific home got a serviced smoke alarm?

Across housing today, but specifically within assets, data is absolutely key. Good data allows me to predict what will happen to our stock, to intervene at the right moment, and to give assurance to all our stakeholders that our social rented homes will be desirable, lettable and functional indefinitely. Quality data means

• accountability
• strategic financial planning
• less waste and duplication
• lower risk

Here at Notting Hill Genesis, we recognise that our data is imperfect, and my team have been working really hard to correct that. We have set ourselves a high bar beyond current compliance targets such as Decent Homes; we want 95% of every data point within our homes and buildings to be both accurate and verified by March 2024 – that is over 1m data points!

To reach our target, we are surveying 14,500 of our homes (we have 67,000) to ensure that the data we hold is up-to-date and accurate. Additional to the bedrock of stock condition surveys, we include data from contractors who service boilers or fit CO2 alarms. Our secret weapon however is our team of housing officers who for the last decade have been into every single home, every single year (Covid lock downs excluded). Their small patches enables an intimate relationship of knowledge to build up – about our residents and their homes.

They often spot problems that might not have been reported – in the communual areas, or within the homes of less engaged tenants. The triangulation of our intelligence means our stock knowledge base is well developed and a living resource. It means we can identify new investment needs, adjust our spending plans and prioritise effectively.

Data is an asset that will become even more important as we roll out our retrofit programmes, implement the golden thread and look to make our homes more sustainable. It will be crucial, for example, for connecting homes to local heat networks or introducing predictive technology such as the innovative heat network technology we are bringing in.

Since we started this comprehensive programme, the help we’ve received from the sector, our partners and our people on the ground has been invaluable. Having done extensive work reviewing and verifying our data I can say now, with a good degree of confidence, that our homes are of a decent standard and we will continue the work to close every gap in our data.

Ultimately, we are a people business and being close to our residents, listening, capturing their experience and requirements enhances our data. But the bedrock is accurate stock data and we will use this to improve and transform our residents’ lives.