HACT’s development of a common data standard in the UK housing sector was inspired by the success of the Dutch data standard CORA, which was launched in 2008.
A decade later, HACT and OSCRE international, a real estate standards development organisation, launched UK Housing Data Standard, along with 17 housing providers. Developed in response to a need to improve the quality of data in UK housing, the UK Housing Data Standard borrowed design processes and definitions from the Dutch model.
Since the launch of version 1.0 of the standard, which covered voids, allocations processes and core customer data, HACT has come a long way. Version 3.2 of the UK Data Standard, which has detailed use cases for planned maintenance, income and service charges and care and support, has just been published and the project now has over 50 housing and supply chain partners.
There is, however, still a lot the UK can learn from the trailblazing Dutch model. Last month HACT convened a session at MTVH which brought together experts from the English and Dutch housing sectors to share knowledge and insights on data standards. Out of the session emerged several ideas for areas of future collaboration.
VERA into OSCRE model
To date the UK and Dutch data models have shared common principles but are not directly aligned at the level of definitions. The group raised the idea of examining ways to incorporate VERA as part of the OSCRE data model. This would involve trying to understand if there’s a way of aligning the concepts and definitions HACT have developed so they can sit in one data model. If possible, this would make it easier to share and compare data across borders allowing the sector to understand the factors that drive quality and performance across different countries
IoT and sensor data standards
Another area of interest for the UK and Dutch sectors is the emergence of Internet of Things technology, with the biggest challenge for both being how you make sense of the vast amount of data you collect. This is where standards come in. You might have different sensors made by different companies all streaming data to your servers. How, though, do you reconcile the data on water pressure and fan speed that’s calculated and reported in a Wooster Bosch boiler versus a Valiant so that you can analyse the data meaningfully. If you had a common way of collecting the data it’s easier to do the analysis. Then you can, for example, compare data collected from sensors on the Isle of White to data collected in Groningen.
Data collection is becoming especially important to energy and building performance. Since maintenance is one of the largest costs for all social housing organisations, detecting mould and damp with sensory data over time could be particularly valuable to the sector. In the Netherlands robust and reliable data underpins the business model of Energiesprong style retrofit initiatives. With the UK housing sector now looking to do more to support the green agenda, reliable energy data will become increasingly important.
Development handover and BIM
A third area where the UK and Dutch teams will continue to share work is around Building Information Modelling (BIM). Development, design and construction and handovers to asset management are the main areas related to BIM which are of interest for further learning and collaboration to the UK and Dutch teams. BIM is about having the data you need to plan a project, construct the building, and manage it once its finished.
HACT are about to begin a project on development handover which will look at information that housing associations need through their asset lifecycles. We hope to learn from the Dutch team in what they’re doing in that space. If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact us.
Learning from the performance business process framework defined in CORA
CORA was a big inspiration for us when we started our project; we were inspired by the ambition and traction of the Dutch initiative. CORA, however, includes business process definitions and provides process reference architecture which is currently not something the UK Housing Data Standard aims to do. Alongside CORA is VERA is the data standard component of the overall model that that is much more like what we have built here in the UK. Yet despite their differences, learning from the CORA model and more about the business process architecture has been a useful exercise for us in the UK, giving us insights into the different approaches to documenting and managing processes and the benefits and limitations of working in this way.
Using drones in housing
Nick Atkin of Halton Housing Trust was one of the first to talk about flying drones to survey properties in a piece in Inside Housing in 2014. While that hasn’t taken off in the UK, our Dutch neighbours have pursued this technology and now have software to automatically analyse the data taking the vast data sets generated by laser, lidar and photogrammetry data and automatically analysing it to identify potential issues.
Last month’s session was inspiring and valuable for those of us from HACT who attended. Knowledge sharing between organisations that share the same perspective on the critical value of data standards is, inevitably, an ongoing process and we look forward to working closely with our Dutch neighbours on future collaborations.