AI, data and social housing: how to put real power into practice

5th July 2024

by Jimmy Rogers

While political, procurement and regulatory issues attracted attention at this year’s Housing 2024 Conference, housing providers remain particularly interested in how to effectively engage with tenants and how to use artificial intelligence (AI) to drive more efficiencies.

Discover some of the top highlights from this year’s event, bringing together thought leaders and innovators from across the housing industry. This blog offers a summary from multiple sources that highlight the key themes and strategies for leveraging AI in social housing to enhance service delivery, streamline operations and improve tenant satisfaction.

The need for robust data governance

Effective data governance helps mitigate risks, improve compliance with regulations, and enhance the overall reputation of housing associations and council social housing providers. Such governance is now more important than ever in the wake of high-profile and shocking incidents like the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 and the tragic death of toddler Awaab Ishaak in 2020 as a result of mould exposure in his home.

Top takeaways for data governance:

  • Quality data is the lifeblood for all decision-making and operational efficiency
  • Data needs a vision — get buy-in from the top, start with critical data and communicate a clear strategy for data governance
  • Use automation tools to validate and manage your data
  • Monitor your progress and compliance with analytics
  • Nurture a culture that values data quality and good governance

The role of AI in service transformation

AI has the potential to revolutionise service delivery in social housing. Implementing AI can enhance productivity, improve tenant services and ensure the effective use of resources. But everyone’s wondering where to start?

  • Clean data and predictive insights – The effectiveness of AI hinges on clean and standardised data, transforming quantitative data into actionable insights — like proactive identification of tenants at risk of rent arrears to enable early intervention.
  • Chatbots ease the load – AI-driven chatbots can efficiently handle specific enquiries, reducing the workload on human agents and improving response times. This shift lets the people in your teams focus on complex issues — and adding value where it’s needed most.
  • Addressing bias and ethical concerns – Ethical AI implementation involves navigating data privacy, transparency and informed consent. It’s why Netcall is committed to training your AI applications within your closed data environment — ensuring a pioneering and secure AI framework that enhances rather than excludes, whilst removing inherent biases and discrimination.
  • Training is a must-have – Ongoing training and even collaboration with academic institutions helps prepare the workforce for AI advancements. Offering AI apprenticeships and continuous learning opportunities is essential for adapting to technological changes.

Real-world AI projects – where to start

1. Improve tenant interactions

Use AI to optimise call handling and resource planning which leads to better tenant satisfaction and operational efficiency.

2. Data analytics for better decisions

AI can deliver dashboards and insights for informed decision-making. For example, querying the system about mould cases can yield quick and actionable insights, helping you to prioritise maintenance and repairs.

3. Ethical and responsible AI use

To optimise adoption of AI in your organisation, you need to set clear guidelines and guardrails to ensure ethical use, addressing data privacy and minimising biases. Once your policies are in place, choose a tech partner who can offer you a secure AI ecosystem that is trained on your own data.

4. Enhancing case management

By enabling systems to find and recommend relevant documents, AI can significantly reduce the time spent on paperwork. This capability allows staff to query case details effortlessly and receive comprehensive information quickly, such as tracking how many cases of mould were reported in each month.

5. Automating document management

Automation in document management is another area where AI shines. It can create, manage and organise content, enhancing productivity in the short and medium term. From summarising communications to generating essential documents, AI supports staff by handling repetitive tasks, freeing them up to focus on more critical issues.

6. Unified communications and front-end integration

Unified communications platforms integrated with AI can transform how housing associations interact with tenants. AI-driven chatbots can handle specific inquiries, reducing failure demand and improving response times. These systems also support staff by summarising tenant interactions and bringing relevant documents to their attention, enhancing service delivery.

Related articles

Keeping up with tenant satisfaction measures

Originally implemented on the 1st of April 2023, the Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSM) Standard aims to improve the lives of social housing tenants — making sure they are listened to, able to live in safe homes in good repair and their complaints are well handled.

The rental income collection challenge

Rent arrears within social housing have reached worrying levels. However, future-focused leaders have the power to usher in a new era of financial sustainability in the sector, through strategic implementation of the right technology.

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