Guest post: Understanding housing stock, needs and costs with open data

ODI Member Visceral Business calls on housing groups to share insights by making data open for policymakers, investors and tenants alike to help solve the housing crisis

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This year’s Connected Housing Study calls for open data to help deliver smarter housing.

By Anne McCrossan

Barely a day goes by in the UK without discussion about how to solve the housing crisis. Plenty of debate is being had about how to develop the supply of affordable housing, as well as questions about what the future might hold for organisations within the social housing sector.

As the digital world is developing, an increasingly inter-connected understanding of the variables affecting the national economy is too. Housing organisations have a crucial strategic role to play as data aggregators, operating as they do at an invaluable intersection between local housing data, social data and macro-economic data. This is a key role, and one few other organisations can play.

Being able to bring together open, linked data in housing can illuminate and help solve supply, maintenance and affordability challenges. It can assist everyone involved in housing – policymakers, investors, providers and residents alike – to solve the housing crisis.

This is something the Connected Housing Study has been analysing since 2012. It looks at over 235 housing organisations in detail every year, representing more than £2.4m homes, to see how they can develop efficiencies through digital business design thinking.

This year, the Connected Housing Study will include a call for open data. Working in partnership with the ODI and housing organisations, it wants to encourage and promote the release of open data in order to help deliver smarter housing.

We’re inviting housing organisations to participate in the Connected Housing Study by having an open data-enabled conversation about three things:

1. Let’s talk about stock
We want to pull together an open inventory about housing stock.

  • What is the breakdown of housing types by organisation and their catchment area?
  • What is the average price per square foot?
  • How many units have been built over the last two years?

2. Let’s talk about needs
We want to link data to understand and better meet people’s needs.

  • Who are the residents?
  • How many are in receipt of benefits?
  • How many are in arrears?
  • What’s the ratio of demand to supply?
  • How many void properties are there?
  • How many repairs have been reported per household?
  • What other services are provided?

3. Let’s talk about costs
We want to harness open data so we can make processes work more efficiently, both in terms of service delivery and cost.

  • What are the cost breakdowns across building, marketing, technology and repairs?
  • How many residents are online so people can be included digitally at low cost?
  • How many residents can pay by direct debit?
  • How much are average utility costs?

We hope as many housing organisations as possible will contribute to this picture and help support the future of affordable housing by opening up more data.

It’s going to be a great opportunity for housing organisations to prove their worth. By developing open data and using digital business thinking to create a joined up macro-economic picture, we can help develop smarter housing.

You can find out more about the Connected Housing Reports on the Visceral Business website.

Anne McCrossan is a Founding Partner at Visceral Business, an ODI Member. Follow @Annemcx on Twitter.

If you have ideas or experience in open data that you’d like to share, pitch us a blog or tweet us at @ODIHQ.

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