Housing assocation uses cloud as bridge to smart homes

Charitable housing organisation migrates to Microsoft platforms, looks to smart home functionality.

James Hayes | 16th May 18
Image of houses representing housing association and its use of the cloud for planned smart homes.

Housing association Salix Homes has partnered with cloud services provider ANS Group to further enhance its internal digital services and take a step toward digitalisation of its residential properties.

The partnership will see the not-for-profit charitable organisation – which owns and runs more than 8,300 homes in Salford, Greater Manchester – become one of the first UK housing associations to fully adopt public cloud services as part of a digitalisation programme.

The project involves the migration of the social housing provider’s mission-critical operations onto Microsoft Azure, moving its on-premise customer relationship manager (CRM)* system to Microsoft Dynamics 365, and the transfer of all of its employees to Microsoft Office 365.

The move is part of Salix Homes’ commitment to ‘Rethink Housing’ strategy programme in order to cope with the demands of the modern, digital world, and will ensure it can offer fully digitalised services to residents and increase internal capacity, the association said.

“We are proud to be working alongside ANS to make our digital transformation strategy a reality,” said Chris Henry, ICT Manager at Salix Homes. “This development marks the next stage in our journey to become a forward-thinking housing association – enabling us to implement our digital ambitions and improve our services. With ANS, we will have the flexibility and agility we need to meet the challenges facing the social housing sector now and in the future.”

Henry added: “We are rethinking the way we deliver all of our services in order to meet the demands of the digital world, and this upgrade of our ICT infrastructure will provide the foundations for a first-class digital experience for colleagues and customers.”

Salix Homes is already leading the way for digital innovation in the housing sector, after recently unveiling its MiiHome research project, which has seen smart home* sensors installed in the homes of some of its elderly residents to monitor their welfare.

The association hopes that the partnership with the ANS Group will enable Salix Homes to further develop its smart home technology strategy, which could include the introduction of intelligent household appliances, such as self-reporting boilers.

*CDN Jargonbust: Home automation is building automation for a home, called a smart home or smart house. A home automation system will control lighting, climate, entertainment systems, and appliances. It may also include home security such as access control and alarm systems. When connected with the Internet, home devices are an important constituent of the Internet of Things. Source: Wikipedia.