Wednesday, 13 November 2019


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I’ve blogged a number of times about IOT and its potential in SocialHousing. However, I’ll be frank, I am constantly disappointed with the attitude of the sector, towards getting much practical done.

I am always surprised by the innovator suppliers and social housing organisations, pushing tech forward and I pride myself in getting deeper involved with such organisations. It’s part of the spice that gets me out of bed each morning, as folks who know me will testify.

It was while doing some work in deepest beautiful Cymru, I came across a brilliant IOT project that I think is breaking beyond some of the perceived limitations, of cost, security, acceptability (from residents) and connectivity. The last of those often seems to be a common blocker. The solution might be to rethink the bandwidth and retune.

If you are of a certain age, you will remember Radio Luxembourg. A great deal after 10pm of my mis-spent youth included John Peel, Piccadilly Radio 261 and Luxembourg medium wave 208 (fading in and out as it inevitably did). Its gone a bit under the radar, but a recent reorganisation of these frequencies, opens up so many more IOT opportunities.

Mid Wales HA have leveraged a UHF LoRaWAN Gateway, at a cost of around £500, to solve the comms piece of the jigsaw, each gateway handling 65,000 nodes. For you techies, that’s UHF ISM band 868mhz (EU). Keeping within the EU 1% duty cycle. 

So far so good, what about the sensors, the eyes, ears and noises of the IOT operation? Well, Mid Wales spent around £45 per sensor, covering temperature and humidity. These are Elsys ERS-Lite ( ) logging at 60 minute intervals into TTN (The Things Network), each with a battery life of 10-15 years, at a 60 minute spread factor 7, which is low power.

The IOT sensors at Mid-Wales HA went mostly into void properties remaining once a new tenant moves in. This is a brilliant way to introduce IOT and clearly helps allay data issues. Used and applied properly, IOT should be a benefit to residents, not a ruse to collect data with no defined purpose. The key here is to manage the asset better, add value to residents and perhaps add value around energy usage or report repair issues faster.

Mid Wales are based in lovely Newtown, in the Severn valley and their aerial on the roof of their head office, covers 20km radius and line of sight record of up to 700km. That is a possible game changer.

Collecting data is the first challenge, using it effectively and distinguishing ambient and exceptional conditions, is another matter. Sensor data from TTN is integrated into MyDevices Cayenne dashboard. ( ) Dean Marsh in IT at Mid Wales, has also been working with Capita to integrate the data directly into their Capita integrated housing management system. This all depends on the setting of triggers and alerts when values pass thresholds.

Clearly, the success and practical application of IOT in Social Housing, will rely on better integration into the key housing management systems out there. Capita and Northgate in particular I have seen are taking steps in the right direction. All suppliers need to be taking IOT seriously and providing practical interfaces, to support the sector going forward. I would be pleased to see more roadmaps turning into real product interfaces, adding to the real lives of residents and improving communities.

Mid Wales HA are doing some fantastic things here and setting a fantastic example to so many other socialhousing providers, who perhaps have more convenient terrain or connectivity and could be doing so much more, around better maintaining and protecting assets. I hope this blogpost spurs more organisations on to make IOT happen. Many thanks to Dean in ICT for sharing 👍

C’mon everyone, its happening in Wales, rest of the UK, catch up won’t you?

Related Post: Is Social Housing generally taking IOT seriously?  


I would be pleased to connect with you on LinkedIn - Message me with any issues or queries, you would like to be explored in this blog. We generally receive a couple of suggestions each month.

UHF – Bill NelsonUHF – Bill Nelson.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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