Stirling Council to Install IoT Sensors in Social Housing to Improve Living Conditions

09-11-2022 | By Robin Mitchell

Living conditions are a major factor in health, but trying to ensure living conditions in dwellings can be challenging, especially when trying to identify moisture, mould growth, and heating inefficiencies. What challenges do homeowners face, what is Stirling Council planning to do, and could IoT devices finally be ready for homes?

What challenges do homeowners face?

Maintaining a clean and safe home is essential for both physical and mental health, but while this comes naturally to some, it is often a challenging task to do. The living conditions of a home can be affected by numerous factors, and trying to check on each of these not only requires taking proactive measures but can even be difficult to spot over long periods of time.

One such factor is moisture, which can lead to serious structural and health effects if not kept in check. If moisture builds up, the first problem it introduces is damaging plaster and wallpaper, which in itself can be stressful to live with (this already has an impact on mental health). As this moisture persists, it encourages the growth of mould, which not only permanently damages walls but also increases the risk of infection and disease for those living inside. In fact, some moulds can be so deadly that they have been known to kill entire families. 

Another factor that affects the quality of living is access to fresh air. During winter months, it is very tempting to seal homes to prevent the loss of heat (especially for those in fuel poverty), but while this may help ease the financial burden of heating, it increases the concentration of CO2 and other contaminants. Such living conditions can quickly lead to disease while also lowering immune response. 

Stirling Council to introduce 50,000 IoT devices to monitor living conditions

Recognising the challenges faced by homeowners, Stirling City Council recently announced a new initiative that will see the installation of over 50,000 IoT devices in homes. These devices will primarily be used to allow the council to monitor the internal living conditions of homes to spot signs of moisture, mould, and heating losses, and from there, take action to prevent long-term damage to both the properties being monitored and improve the health and safety standards for the occupants.

While the use of such sensors can help private homeowners, it is primarily being targeted at those in social housing, which commonly face more challenges with fuel poverty and living conditions. Furthermore, the use of connected home sensors allows the local council to respond more rapidly to issues while simultaneously taking on more responsibility for the management of properties.

The rollout of 50,000 IoT devices comes after a trial that utilised the range of HomeLINK sensors developed by AICO that specialise in landlord infrastructure. With the sensors now being installed in homes, residents can also access the data gathered via free smartphone apps that not only warn occupants but also help to save money on bills.

Could IoT finally be ready for homes?

While IoT devices have existed for over a decade, they are still yet to become mainstream in consumer electronics. Furthermore, smart homes are still yet to become popular, and this is not helped by the numerous manufacturers and device standards currently on the market. 

However, this is soon likely to change thanks to the development of the IoT standard Matter, resulting from numerous major tech corporations working together, including Google, Amazon, and Meta. If IoT devices can overcome the current fragmentation, it becomes possible to create a smart home from devices manufactured by different suppliers. 

While the devices manufactured by AICO may not support Matter (this is to be confirmed), the ability to roll out 50,000 devices across homes is undoubtedly a positive sign. These devices don’t need to send sensitive information or be mounted in inappropriate places and can provide actionable data that can do some real-world good. If these devices do support Matter (either currently or in the future), it could very well become a favourite amongst other councils to monitor living conditions, and this could eventually lead to all new homes requiring some form of IoT network that allows for the condition of the property to be monitored at all times.


By Robin Mitchell

Robin Mitchell is an electronic engineer who has been involved in electronics since the age of 13. After completing a BEng at the University of Warwick, Robin moved into the field of online content creation developing articles, news pieces, and projects aimed at professionals and makers alike. Currently, Robin runs a small electronics business, MitchElectronics, which produces educational kits and resources.