Nov 15, 2018 Last Updated 11:32 AM, Nov 13, 2018

FireAngel looks at how IoT is transforming fire safety technologies

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A latest industry report has predicted the number of connected devices being used worldwide will grow to 20.8 billion by 2020*. As the development of IoT technology advances and subsequently the popularity of connected devices continues to increase, what opportunities does this present for social housing providers and landlords? Here Nick Rutter, Chief Product Officer for FireAngel, explores the latest connected safety solutions under development and how these are transforming the expectations and capabilities of fire safety technologies.

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Over the last decade, the development of IoT and the notion of a ‘connected home’ has undergone significant developments. Initially starting as a rather fantastical concept whereby fridges were envisioned to have the ability to restock themselves when certain items had run out, today’s IoT technology is supporting the creation of tangible products that are relevant to everyday life, primarily designed to ‘make life easier for the user’.

Penetration of smart home devices has reached almost a quarter throughout the UK according to a latest statistic by YouGov**, with speakers and thermostats currently the two most popular forms of technology. However, security and safety is an emerging area for IoT and connected technology, with 3% of UK households currently using this type of technology – a figure that is set to rise. It’s this ability to record information in real-time and transmit it wirelessly via a cloud-based network that is a far cry from the initial gimmicks that IoT was once thought to be capable of. The technology provides landlords and housing associations with the opportunity to bridge the gap between themselves and their tenants by creating a constant dialogue via cloud-based software.

When it comes to fire safety, tenants are now able to access their network of alarms via a mobile app to see in real-time the status of their alarms, e.g. if an alarm has activated. In turn, landlords are able to also access the network remotely and can instantly view if a tenant is in potential danger, e.g. if they’ve removed an alarm from its base plate.

By enabling the external monitoring of the smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms within a tenant’s property through interlinked alarms that report back to a central gateway which connects to the cloud platform, landlords can ensure their tenants are being adequately protected from all potential fire dangers, whilst simultaneously complying to all relevant Building Regulations.

For vulnerable tenants who may potentially present a greater risk, such as the elderly or those living with dementia or hearing loss, the technology provides 360° protection to family members as they can access the app remotely to receive real-time updates and notifications on the status of the alarms.

Figures released by Age UK last year revealed that the number of those aged 65 and over is projected to increase by more than 40% to over 16 million by 2033, whilst the number aged over 85 is set to double. This has led to the need for interactive fire safety technology that supports independent living by providing not only the tenants but their family with peace of mind that they are safe from all potential fire risks at all times.

However, it’s the ability to record the diagnostic technology these interlinked alarms communicate, whether that’s a false alarm or the activation of an alarm due to a real fire event, that is taking connected technology with regards to fire safety one step further. These sector advancements are prompting a shift towards prevention, in addition to reaction.

This change in focus has led to the development of a cloud-based fire safety technology, FireAngel Predict, which has been designed with a unique algorithm that identifies patterns of potentially dangerous behaviour, sending an alert to intervene, in doing so; averting a potential fire.

So how does this work? The Wi-Safe 2 interlinked alarms continuously send data back to the gateway which then reports the events to the cloud platform regarding their status, including any false alarms. If recurring alarm events are recorded on the device, the unique algorithm is able to identify any potential patterns of high-risk behaviour and send a notification to the relevant individual, whether that’s the landlord, social services or the local FRS.

For example, if an elderly resident living with dementia has gotten distracted or forgotten that they are cooking a meal, and a record of false alarms are recorded on the gateway due to food burning on the hob, the algorithm will identify a dangerous pattern of behaviour and send out a notification to prompt preventative measures to be implemented. It’s this complete transparency that provides landlords with the opportunity to intervene if one of their tenants is in potential danger of a real fire event occurring.

Connected technology is here to stay, whether that’s through voice command speakers or interlinked fire alarms. For the social housing sector, in particular, it removes potential boundaries between social housing providers and their tenants allowing them to remotely manage estates and ensure they are providing overarching protection for all individuals including their most vulnerable tenants.

*Gartner report: www.gartner.com/imagesrv/books/iot/iotEbook_digital.pdf
**YouGov report: campaign.yougov.com/rs/060-QFD-941/images/YouGov_UK_2018_08_smart_homes.pdf

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