Simon Hollingsworth is the Managing Director of Housing Partners, which helps housing providers better understand their tenants through innovative data solutions.
‘Big’ data is something of a buzzword in the social housing sector currently. But what is it?
Big data is the collection of information from large, varied sources; combining and applying it for big results.
Amalgamating several strands of data can reveal trends or patterns that otherwise may have gone unnoticed when looking at individual data silos.
Welfare reform – the importance of data
With the introduction of welfare reform measures, including Universal Credit, it’s more important than ever for providers to know their customers, in order to manage risk proactively and be more efficient with resources.
Housing Partner’s Insight makes vast amounts of tenant financial and neighbourhood data available in one place. It takes information from a provider’s housing management system and combines it with data from hundreds of third party sources, including many exclusive to Housing Partners.
This data is helping social landlords engage with thousands of tenants across the UK and intervene in the situations that need support most, such as rental arrears and the use of illegal lenders.
Preventing debt and financial issues means that providers can better support tenants secure their main source of income – rent.
The value of data to housing providers
As neighbourhood services come under increasing pressure and resources get tighter in the current climate, making the first visit count when seeing a tenant is more vital than ever, allowing providers to focus their staff resources in the most needed areas.
Data tools, such as Insight, equip housing association staff with the necessary tenant information before they’ve even made their first visit to residents.
With time an ever more valuable commodity, it’s important that housing professionals are asking simple but powerful questions, and this is something new data innovations are allowing. Big data is a huge step beyond the traditional use of data.
The value of data to tenants
Big data is allowing housing associations to paint a full picture of their tenant’s situation, which in the context of welfare reform, highlights factors that are most likely to cause financial vulnerability and debt.
One housing provider we work with identified 570 individuals in high financial distress using big data. This approach enables officers to use their time as effectively as possible, visiting the most vulnerable families first and knowing what questions to ask. Spotting financial problems before it’s too late ultimately means keeping residents in their homes.
Housing providers are increasingly using big data collection and application alongside their financial inclusion schemes.
But as data becomes more widely used in every aspect of everyday life, from healthcare to housing, more questions are being asked.
Data security and privacy are hot on the heels of any discussion over the use of data in housing, so it’s paramount that we communicate the benefits of big data to both housing providers and tenants.
Housing Partner’s Insight collects a lot of third party data that is already available publicly anyway, but it’s the amalgamation of the data that makes the change. Insight displays the data in a clear, user-friendly way, ensuring housing professionals – at all levels – can make insightful use of the information available to them.
As our customers are aware, big data is helping providers drive efficiencies, better engage with customers and build long lasting relationships.
For tenants, information is helping to keep them in their homes and avoid serious debt.
Big data is allowing us to better understand the people we support. And this understanding is in the interest of all parties.
For more details visit: www.housingpartners.co.uk/Insight