Housing Digital Live has released its agenda for the two-day conference and exhibition taking place in Birmingham next year. It promises an insightful exploration of a future that’s already taking shape today
The science fiction author, William Gibson once observed: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”
That’s perhaps never been more true than it is today. Lately, faced with the relentless pace of technological change, we can perhaps be forgiven if we come to feel like bit players in one of the cyberpunk novels that made Gibson’s name.
Technology in fiction is easy to pin down; in real life, not so much. It’s easy to feel bewildered, too, at the pace of change, the sheer scope of potential, and the never-ending emergence of new and interesting things.
How many of the ‘next big things’ become yesterday’s sad – and maybe pointless – faded fad? Predicting the future even when its gadgets and gizmos are right there in our eager hands, is fraught with imponderables and contradictions.
Maybe that’s the whole point of the future; we’re not supposed to predict, it’s meant to take us by surprise.
Well, that’s a luxury busy housing professionals simply can’t afford. Quite the reverse, they need to get a handle on the new technologies and emerging trends. As such, naturally, technology and its endless cycle of innovation is no plaything for the literary imagination.
Housing professionals need to get to grips with the real-world applications – indeed the potential implications – in real-time, not hindsight. They need to grasp the potential solutions new technology offers, whether to old and familiar problems, or to new challenges appearing over the horizon.
Most of all, perhaps, they need to grasp the potential pit-falls that come as part-and-parcel of the process of innovation and change.
All that is easier said than done, of course.
That’s where Housing Digital Live comes in
The two-day conference and exhibition aims to serve as a showcase of innovation; a chance to scrutinise the most innovative products, services, and projects that are fuelling the sector’s progress.
More than that, its purpose is to provide a forum for expertise to gather and share insights and understanding, so that the race for change becomes less bewildering, easier to navigate, and more readily steered to the many challenges the sector faces.
Over 600 delegates from the social housing sector are set to gather for the event, which is being held at Edgbaston Stadium in February next year. There’s a strong line-up of more than 60 expert speakers and panellists, and over 30 exhibitors, so there’s plenty for everyone, no matter their particular focus of interest.
Among those speakers – and indeed attending delegates – are a wealth of experts, industry leaders, trailblazers from the private sector who are all at the forefront of driving innovation, and applying it to practical effect.
From digital and cultural transformation, to well-being and social value; from building safety and digital twins, to decarbonisation and the wider sustainability agenda, there is much to discuss on the event’s packed agenda.
And let’s not forget some of those other key topics that have come to fore in recent years, from the potential power of data for driving many of the themes above, to the potential benefits and ramifications of artificial intelligence (AI).
On Friday, Housing Digital Live released its agenda, so there’s no need to settle for that brief flavour offered above; dive in and explore the full offering.
The AIs have it
Artificial intelligence (AI) is, unsurprisingly, a big topic of conversation generally these days, with its far-reaching implications generating plenty of discussion.
Much of it focuses on the the fearful implications – obliterating livelihoods, for instance – less so on the many practical applications where these machine learning algorithms are genuinely breaking ground.
The hype can be hard to separate from the reality, but that’s where Housing Digital Live comes in with its suite of panels and presentations on the topic.
In his presentation, AI in Housing: Preparing for the Pitfalls Beyond the Opportunities, Jon Cocker, chief information officer at Platform Housing Group, will present case studies of successful applications of AI and machine learning.
One topical case involves Platform’s use of the technology to provide solutions around predicting damp and mould; another is the the organisation’s ‘silent tenants’ project.
Overall, Cocker will talk about how the sector needs to approach and agree best practices, to ensure the optimum delivery of services to tenants while, at the same time, protecting tenants and organisations alike from exposure to risk.
Carolina Padovezi De Oliveir, corporate project manager at Manningham Housing Association, will present a panel on AI Case Uses.
AI has the potential to be a game-changer for housing associations, and her session will offer insights in the innovative ways that AI is reshaping the landscape of Manningham Housing, by leveraging predictive modelling, and automation.
Such things, she argues, have the potential to streamline processes, optimise resource allocation, and enhance the overall experience for both residents and staff.
In the session, Revolutionising Social Housing: Harnessing AI Ethically for a Brighter Tomorrow, Dominika Phillips-Blackburn, head of product at Mobysoft will take a look at the ethical implications of AI use.
She’ll discuss how to integrate and optimise AI, while highlighting the importance of “guardrails” and the alignment of the technology’s use with an organisation’s social values. As she argues, to safeguard tenants’ rights, and ensure equitable access is about creating a forward-thinking, responsible approach to harnessing AI.
King for a data
AI is only as good as the ‘fuel’ that feeds it, of course, and that brings us to another major topic on Housing Digital Live’s agenda – data.
Data is king these days, and if we think we know it, then in his session, The Many Faces of Data, Ryan Dempsey, chief executive of TCW, will urge us to think again.
We need to understand that data has many formats, he’ll argue, and it is essential to understand what data means to an organisation, and how it can be harnessed to provide a better and safer service to tenants. This session will offer a smart heads-up on the matter.
The Devil is in the Data – with panellists Christopher McLaughlin, managing director of MIS Active Management Systems; David Mason, technical director, InclineIT; and Andrew McLaughlin, group finance director, MIS Group – will explore how data drives a business, and how it can play a role in decision making; going further it asks if data holds the key to a new way of working.
Perhaps not data, per se, but clearly related, Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway will present the case for knowledge and information as essential business tools for delivering good services.
In his presentation, How knowledge and information management is the ‘closest thing to a silver bullet’ for social housing, Blakeway will highlight recommendations and lessons learned from the ombudsman service’s Spotlight report on Knowledge & Information Management. He will show the detrimental impact of getting this wrong – but also inform his audience how the sector can get it right.
Wait, there’s more
Other highlights of Housing Digital Live will take at look at such hot topics as building safety; innovation, and how the sector can learn from other industries; the ongoing challenges of green retrofit, and more.
The panel, Rising to the challenge of net zero in housing – with Thomas Hague, sustainability and building safety lead at Procure Plus; Jade Lewis, chief executive of the Sustainable Energy Association; and Neil Waite, director at NetZero Collective – will focus on how landlords can deliver the investment needed to crack this ongoing challenge, especially at a time when political will appears to be fading.
Henry Fenby-Taylor, chief executive of Athenophilia Ltd, and Bola Abisogun OBE, founder of DiverseCity Surveyors, will discuss regulation around building safety in the panel, Meeting the requirements of the Building Safety Regulator; enter the Digital Twin.
The head of UK non-profit organisations at Amazon Web Services, Simone Hume, will be talking innovation in the session: How Amazon Innovates.
In this interview-format talk, Hume will explain how the process works for Amazon, from identifying problems to writing press releases, to working backwards from the customer, and more.
Another interview-style presentation will further explore the theme of innovation, this time with Susie Braam, former head of innovation at the UK Ministry of Defence. In the session, Innovation is high risk, right? She’ll talk about measuring and managing the risks and uncertainties inherent in innovation projects.
Whatever the future, we make the road by walking, as the theme of Paul Tucker‘s keynote session, Upscaling & Innovation in Retrofit puts it.
Tucker, sustainability manager at Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH), will tell the story of NPH’s retrofit journey and the challenges it faced in scaling up from a 150-home demonstrator project, to a wave one scheme aiming to deliver 429 retrofits.
He’ll explain how the organisation innovated from the trial to that first wave, and applied a learning approach that continues into the second wave of retrofit; all while remaining focused on the resident.
This is just a taste of the packed agenda, offering key insights on the road ahead. There’s much to see and learn – and partake in. Read the ful agenda HERE.
As Gibson said, the future is already here. Come along to Housing Digital Live, and together let’s figure out how to make the most of it.
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