The City of Glasgow is addressing a range of issues such as the digital divide, fuel poverty, and support for independent living via a new Digital Housing Strategy. The strategy is understood to be one of the first of its kind in Scotland and beyond.
The plan which runs until 2028 is based around four themes: data, digital inclusion, systems and services, and technology, and has a specific focus on social housing.
Around a third of Glasgow households live in social rented housing. The council doesn’t own stock but works in partnership with 63 Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), around half of which provided input for the strategy along with private landlords and others. The majority of RSLs in Glasgow provide digital services and use technology but analysis found potential to do more.
Councillor Kenny McLean, City Convener for Neighbourhoods, Housing and Public Realm at Glasgow City Council, said: “In an increasingly digital age, technology has transformed the way we live and how services are delivered.
“The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted the need to reduce digital exclusion across Glasgow, support opportunities for the housing sector to improve how services are delivered and use technology and data held to improve the quality of our citizens’ lives and housing standards.”
Many RSLs already collect data related to housing management, property condition, repairs and customer satisfaction. Developing a standardised approach to collecting, storing and analysing data could assist in informing business plans and improving services.
The plan also aims to enable residents to access more housing services and options online, including through the development of a Common Housing Register to provide a single, shared online application for people to apply for social housing.
Housing represents an important way to tackle the digital divide, with data suggesting that only 65 percent of households living in the city’s social rented accommodation have broadband. Affordability, lack of skills and a reluctance to transact online were cited as the main reasons for those who don’t have a home connection.
The strategy will also support landlords to explore the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology to help people to live independently, improve energy efficiency and housing conditions, and address fuel poverty. An IoT pilot with two housing associations is in the works.
One of the first steps in implementing the plan will be to establish a Digital Housing Working Group with RSLs.
“The development of a Digital Housing Strategy presents a range of opportunities for delivering service improvements across the city’s housing sector using technology and innovation,” Councillor McLean said.
“Glasgow City Council will continue to work effectively with Registered Social Landlords and other partners to address the challenges that are outlined in the strategy. Working together with partners to deliver the action plan will enhance access to, and the quality of, housing for many people.”
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