The fact that high-resolution video footage captured via a standard smartphone could be instantly uploaded to an encrypted cloud-based hub – and made shareable between maintenance teams, housing officers and other personnel – meant that responsive repair managers could reduce the volume of call-outs, void managers could turn around empty units faster, and general tenant maintenance requirements could be addressed more quickly.
It also meant lettings managers were reassured that all pre and post-repair data was accurate, safe, tamper-proof and traceable.
But as the need for social distancing continues – and with the likelihood that reduced social contact will become the norm for the foreseeable future – so a number of housing associations are now considering how such ‘self-reporting’ technology can be deployed to support both housing staff and tenants in other scenarios.
For example, Eviid’s video app can now be downloaded by tenants to conduct virtual home inspections themselves, digitally documenting any urgent repair needs.
Other issues – such as reporting on the state of communal areas, capturing damage to lifts and doors in tower blocks, and highlighting any untidy public realm – can also be undertaken by residents in the first instance, reducing pressure on maintenance teams.
Landlords are also considering how Eviid’s technology could be used to record, review and respond to the needs of elderly and less able tenants, especially with regards to adaptations and any accessibility requirements.
In addition, the Eviid platform can empower housing staff to undertake live interviews with tenants about personal issues such as finances and wellbeing, or take evidence with regards to incidents of anti-social behaviour or neighbourly disputes.
Such sensitive, one-to-one conversations can also be recorded, stored in an encrypted and tamper-proof digital ‘locker’, and only made shareable with authorised colleagues or appropriate third parties.
John Ridd, CEO of Eviid, said: “Our platform has been helping social landlords asses and manage the repair of voids and tenanted properties for several years now, helping them to dramatically improve efficiency by reducing the number of on-site visits needed to turn a property around.
“Now, as the impact of the lockdown and the need for social distancing continues, we are seeing these and other landlords considering the huge benefits – both social and economic – which could be realised through the wider adoption of such ‘self-reporting’ technology.
“And while some in the sector have been turning to free video conferencing apps and messaging software to try and engage with tenants during lockdown, such platforms are not appropriate for anyone seeking a longer term ‘self-service’ customer culture which is robust, secure and fully GDPR compliant.
“That’s why I envisage proven enterprise technology like ours – already used within the social housing and property sectors to manage repairs – will be utilised by landlords further, enabling them to meet a raft of tenant and employee needs while minimising social contact.
“Further, we understand that no two housing associations are alike in terms of scale, geography or customer and local community requirements.
“We have therefore developed a banded pricing structure, based on volume of units, which offers social landlords use of all Eviid’s self-reporting technologies under one simple contract.
“But we have also built in a price-cap which ensures landlords won’t ever be charged more than the initial agreed cost. This is regardless of how many tenant or repairs-related transactions are pushed through the Eviid platform.”