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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Embracing the world of new technology - technofear v technojoy


As we move into the 2020s we need to stop holding back, open our minds and embrace what the future holds. There’s a whole world of new technology, inventions and innovations that can help us in our work. In his blog ahead of hosting a seminar at our Assets and Repairs event in Edinburgh, Stewart Little, CEO of IRT Surveys talks about technofear, and how our lives could be improved if we invest in more tech.

Some people love to be the first to own something shiny and new, but for most of us, we want to let others go early and test things out with their money. Best keep your wallet firmly closed until the bugs are ironed out. Right? Well, sort of. Wait too long and the train leaves the station without you on board and you get left behind. Getting left behind a generation or two on a phone doesn’t matter one little bit, but when it comes to housing, poverty and climate change – can any of us afford to wait any longer?

Social housing moves very slowly, as does the construction industry. Technology on the other hand moves very quickly, making it hard sometimes to engage effectively. The people at either end of the spectrum are used to running at different paces. So how do you know when it’s right to step off the platform and get on board? And how you speed up or slow down to engage properly?

I would like to focus on just one “emerging” technology here if I may.

A technology emerged in 1930 that has yet to gain the acceptance that it deserves – “early” adopters have been benefitting by exploiting it since the early 2000’s. There was only one of them, and let me tell you, it’s not like you could walk into Currys and buy one, but nevertheless the technology became real in the 1930’s.

Before revealing the technology, let me tell you what us humans, first used it for - then tell you what it can do for you today.

It’s first application was in the 50s, being bolted it onto missiles to kill people more efficiently. A horrible use of something with so much potential.

In the 70s the tech is in universities but in the 80s, it’s commercially available - but analogue and far too expensive for mass market adoption.

The 90s – now you’re talking! Vanilla Ice is on the radio and the tech gets smaller, more affordable, lighter and dumber so us normal folk can use it.

As the new millennium dawned, this technology truly became within the reach of the commercial market. Digital, affordable and more usable than ever. For the last 20 years consistent evolution and software development have increased the functionality and usability of the tech.

So, what’s the tech? Infrared thermal cameras, IRT for short.

John Logie Barid’s Noctovisor from the 1930s is barely recognisable compared to todays pocket sized IRT cameras, but the fundamentals are the same.

Today, the same technology can literally quantify the energy being emitted from your home. IRT image your entire portfolio and it can help you retrofit effectively. It can ensure your contractors behave and install what they promised too. IRT technology can literally let you see things you can’t with the naked eye. Adopting it today, a good 20 years after it became commonplace means you aren’t risking being first either, wait another 10 though and you really will be a late adopter and behind the times.

Assets and Repairs is free-to-attend, and runs parallel to Scotland’s Housing Festival in Edinburgh on 3 and 4 March.

Complementing the main conference programme and exhibition, this event takes place in the festival teepee and forms a centrepiece at the heart of the exhibition hall. Find out more and book your place today.

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