New Zealand community housing provider CORT is harnessing the internet of things (IoT) to improve the indoor air quality and ventilation of its premises in a bid to keep its residents healthy and comfortable.
Working with local technology company Tether, CORT is deploying sensors and analytics software, enabling it to monitor temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide levels, light and noise, among other environmental conditions.
CORT operates more than 400 medium-density properties, home to more than 550 people, in Auckland, with over 100 more dwellings under development.
It has begun installing two sensors inside individual properties, with a third on the outside to allow for comparisons.
The sensors are connected to a Sigfox-based low-power wide area network (LPWAN) run by Australian IoT network operator Thinxtra. As the sensors are battery-powered, they do not draw power from homes, and only need to be replaced once every five years.
Information from the sensors is provided to CORT’s team through Tether’s mobile and web applications, containing dashboards that offer a real-time view into living conditions.
“Community and affordable housing must be treated with the same ongoing care, maintenance and investment as other residential and commercial developments, not forgotten after construction,” said Stephen Hart, operations manager at CORT.
“The NZ Building Code outlines regulatory requirements to maintain safe, healthy and durable dwellings, but the framework alone doesn’t ensure these conditions are actually met in the real world.
“With Tether and Thinxtra’s combined IoT technologies, we are increasing the depth of our knowledge of the living conditions in each home, far beyond what we could glean from only observing and speaking with tenants.
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“That information is also passed back to the occupants of our buildings, fostering a partnership where we have a chance to proactively discuss improvements should there be a need.”
Sam Blackmore, chief operating officer at Tether, noted that while so much money is being spent on developing apartments and houses, little is invested to understand the potential impact of living in them.
“CORT is taking a leading position by not only providing high-quality dwellings, but also equipping them with leveraging low-power, low-cost IoT devices to establish a knowledge base that keeps residents healthier and more comfortable all year round,” he said.
Auckland’s homes are typically well insulated and designed to cater for winters without using excessive energy. They perform equally throughout the hotter summer months.
However, Nicholas Lambrou, CEO of Thinxtra, said there is often a massive contrast between what the assumed living conditions are versus what is actually happening within each property.
“With Thinxtra and Tether, CORT is combining the lived experiences of its clients with real-time data to inform decisive action that will ensure homes are in optimal condition at all times,” he said.