housing & housing services

Online Conference: 7th Annual Digital Housing Conference

housing & housing services

09:40 - 15:00

Thursday 23 July 2020

Online Conference

This online conference will provide participants with the opportunity to explore strategies for delivering and advancing digitalization and digital inclusion across the Housing Sector. Participants will hear from Homes England, HACT and Citizens Online who are at the forefront of housing policy on enhancing tenant’s digital inclusion and engagement and gain valuable insight from those embracing innovative technology to meet ever-increasing digital demands. In addition, best practice case studies will demonstrate how to implement an effective digital channel shift, raise tenants digital skills and review the impact that digital services had during the Covid-19 pandemic to improve customer service.


The Forum is specifically designed for Housing Associations. Typical job titles will include:

  • Digital Services Managers
  • Digital Inclusion Officers
  • Digital Project Leads
  • Heads of IT
  • Community Engagement and Involvement Officers
  • Heads of Service Delivery
  • Business Transformation Managers
  • Heads of Customer Service
  • Directors of Transformation
  • Communications and Customer Relations Managers
  • Financial Inclusion Managers
  • Welfare and Benefits Programme Managers
  • Directors of Housing Services
  • Operations and Business Development Directors

This Forum is also open to Local Authorities and the Private Sector to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Rob Wray, Deputy CEO, Housing Association Charitable Trust (HACT)
  • Brian McIntyre, Chief Digital Officer, Homes England
  • Chris Lees, Technical Director, OSCRE International 
  • John Fisher, Former Chief Executive, Citizens Online
  • Gary Haldane, Head of Digital, Kingdom Housing Association
View the agenda and additional speakers


Conference Login and Accessing the Online Platform

*Please note to comply with the latest public health guidance around Covid-19, this conference will run entirely via an online platform. Specific joining instructions and guidance will be provided to registered delegates 


Chair's Welcome Address

Lauren Beech, Head of Digital Transformation, ‎Accord Housing Association (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Establishing a Successful Digital Transformation Plan for the Future

  • Outlining how Homes England has implemented a five-year strategic plan to modernise its digital systems to build a sustainable digital capacity across Homes England
  • Understanding how Homes England undertook its service transformation with the aim of being able to work more efficiently with partners
  • Discussing the digital revolution and how this can end up negatively impacting on productivity rather than supporting it
  • Highlighting how digital transformation demands a new leadership mindset and the impact the digital age has had on the housing sector

Brian McIntyre, Chief Digital Officer, Homes England (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Sessions


Special Keynote: Effectively Transforming the Housing Sector through Digital Solutions

  • Outlining how HACT’s innovation launchpad helps housing associations to discover digital technology and new solutions for the sector
  • Understanding how digital transformation and digital solutions can help housing associations to provide better and more efficient services for residents
  • Discussing how digital apprenticeships can effectively support housing associations

Dr Rob Wray, Chief Innovation Officer, Housing Association Charitable Trust (HACT) (CONFIRMED)


Practical Insights Session: What is Data’s Place in Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation inevitably accelerates the availability of and dependency on data. Even before the term “digital transformation” was coined, there was a growing recognition that data quality was a serious problem for the housing sector.

In this keynote, Dr Rob Wray and Chris Lees will discuss how data is the foundation for almost all innovation, not just digital transformation, and bold steps taken within the sector are already beginning to pay-off.

Data’s ability to challenge traditional assumptions and stigma in tenant relationships, and higher expectations for social housing customers as they become digital consumers mean that the need to convert data into decisions is clear and present.

Chris Lees, Technical Director, OSCRE International (CONFIRMED)

Dr Rob Wray, Chief Innovation Officer, Housing Association Charitable Trust (HACT) (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session




Case Study: Implementing a Cloud Only Digital Strategy

Gary Haldane, Interim Digital Director at Kingdom Housing Association will outline how his housing association became the first organisation in Scotland to adopt Awingu, a browser-based workspace that enables highly secure connectivity to legacy applications in an environment where Kingdom accesses all systems using ChromeOS.

This session will also cover how this digital transformation sat within Kingdom’s larger ‘Cloud only Digital Strategy’ including moving to Google G-Suite and Google Cloud Platform.

Gary Haldane, Interim Digital Director, Kingdom Housing Association (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Establishing A Successful Digital Inclusion Programme for Tenants

Kenne Amissah, Digital Inclusion Manager at Clarion Futures, part of Clarion Housing Group, will outline their extensive programme of digital inclusion for 365, 000 tenants and their communities.

This session will outline:

  • Putting residents at the heart of Digital Transformation, including 121 bespoke training programmes in group/community settings for residents unable to travel
  • Effectively utilising Volunteer Digital Champions to provide support to learners with their basic digital skills and confidence
  • Advice on providing equipment and low-level technical support across at a large scale level
  • How Clarion Futures provide Digital Grants (up to £5,000) to groups to establish digital hubs and support residents to get online and stay connected in their local communities

Kenne Amissah, Digital Inclusion Manager, Clarion Housing Group (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session




Afternoon Keynote: Understanding Digital Exclusion Levels and Establishing Inclusion Plans

  • Understanding how transitioning towards digital transformation can digitally exclude residents, especially those living in social housing
  • Outlining how housing associations can work with residents to improve digital skills and increase inclusion
  • Discussing how housing associations need to engage digital transformation teams with inclusion practices to ensure this becomes part of the transformation process
  • Exploring the resources offered by citizens online for housing associations to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic, including digital exclusion support and communication

John Fisher, Former Chief Executive, Citizens Online (CONFIRMED)


Digital Housing Transformation: Lessons From the United States

Rowley Maggs will be outlining how SmartRent, a smart home automation company was embedded across the United States to support property owners and managers to digitally transform their operations while increasing customer amenity of their home.

This session will also cover how the lessons learnt in the US market can be utilised to improve housing delivery and experience in UK social housing.

Rowley Maggs, International Advisor, SmartRent (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Interactive Round Table Session: Placing Tenants are the Heart of Digital Transformation to Ensure Inclusivity is a Priority

This session will give delegates the opportunity to discuss in tables the specific issues that affect housing associations when they are trying to embed digital inclusion into digital transformation strategies. Panellists will also discuss the impact Covid-19 had on the housing sector and the role tech played in supporting vulnerable residents. Solutions to these challenges will be presented back to the room to ensure that delegates feel able to solve the problem of how best to encourage digital inclusion for all residents.

John Fisher, Chief Executive, Citizens Online (CONFIRMED)

Kenne Amissah, Digital Inclusion Manager, Clarion Housing Group (CONFIRMED)

Rowley Maggs, International Advisor, SmartRent (CONFIRMED)


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

According to the Going Digital: Gearing up for the Future report published by the Chartered Institute of Housing in 2018, 71% of landlord organisations would be increasing the amount of digital technology they utilise. The main drivers for increasing this are to increase efficiency as well as customer experience but it is important for housing associations to ensure they are prioritising the needs and skills of their tenants.

The Government is putting increasing pressure on organisations within the UK to help create a Digital Economy through increasing digital services and ensuring that all UK residents have the necessary skills to engage with the wider world. The Government published the UK Digital Strategy in 2017 with the emphasis being placed on creating a digitally inclusive society whilst helping organisations to transform their services to improve efficiency and transparency. Homes England supports the push towards a modern social housing sector and has been experiencing its own digital transformation in an effort to better support the wider sector to transform its services.

Increasing the use of digital technology can help housing associations to cut costs as well as improve customer services and digital transformation is not something that is new to the social housing sector. However, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the onus now falls even more on housing associations to ensure that they are equipping their tenants with the necessary digital skills to ensure that they can best utilise digital services.

Dr Rob Wray, Chief Innovation Officer, HACT

Dr Rob Wray PhD MRes MA BSc (Psych) has a background in politics and behavioural psychology and has recently completed simulation research on variables that increase propensity to social and political conflict. He has held posts as Research Director at Family Mosaic and led business transformation for East Thames. He serves by invitation on round-table discussions on dementia, health and housing partnership at the Royal Society of Medicine and is the founder member and Director of Counter Research. He is a regular contributor to the G15 Policy and Pan-London ASB forums is now based in London.

Gary Haldane, Interim Digital Director, Kingdom Housing Association

Gary graduated from Napier University in 2015 with a Master’s degree in ICT Strategic Leadership. Gary is responsible for Kingdom Housing’s Digital Strategy with a focus on ‘Cloud only’ solutions and has led Kingdom’s cloud transformation to Google G-Suite, Google Cloud Platform, Palo Alto, Awingu, Zoho and many other leading cloud systems, with all access via chrome devices. Gary’s focus ensures access to technology is secure, easy, quick and reliable to enable employees to focus on customers and clients.

Rowley Maggs, International Advisor, SmartRent

Rowley is working to harness the power of proptech and smart homes to support operational housing delivery and resident’s enjoyment of their homes.
A firm believer in the concept of dual ownership of a property – where a resident directly controls the smart devices within their home, and the property manager can monitor building health, administer access credentials and protect their asset.
A smart home brings the added benefits to the landlord of reduced carbon footprint, opportunities for digital transformation leading to improved processes and customer satisfaction.
Rowley continues to explore how tech can help the world, our society and our communities; a smart home is the smart decision.

Brian McIntyre, Chief Digital Officer, Homes England

Brian is Chief Digital and Technology Officer at Homes England, managing the delivery and operations of digital services and supporting a comprehensive service transformation programme. Before joining Homes England, Brian was a management consultant with Atkins, heading up the Digital Advisory practice of architects, engineers and digital transformation specialists. As a consultant Brian’s career has been focused on digital transformation and technology-enabled change in all its forms. This has spanned the transformation of schools and colleges through to strategic advisory work with Heathrow Airport and various government departments, most recently with Ministry of Defence in the role of Chief Technologist.

Kenne Amissah, Digital Inclusion Manager, Clarion Housing Group

An experienced senior manager with experience in the private, statutory and third sectors, Kenne is a solution-focused and achievement-oriented programme manager. Since joining Clarion Futures, the social purpose arm of Clarion Housing Group, Kenne has led the creation and implementation of a national strategy and team of digital inclusion practitioners.  This award winning team delivers more than 15,000 digital intervention each year.  Digital grants are awarded to community partners annually who along with contracted delivery partners, digital champion volunteers and our own digital skills team deliver 1000s of digital training hours from more than 40 digital hubs based between Plymouth and Bradford. Kenne and her team look forward to supporting Clarion with increased online registration as we reach 40,000 users.

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