Tech companies connecting with sector over Coronavirus outbreak

Crisis sees companies offer free services to support associations through shutdown.

Person using a smartphone with a coffee in hand

Tech companies are connecting with the social housing sector to help manage the Coronavirus outbreak by offering their services for free.

Independent social housing management consultancy DtL Creative is pitching to play ‘matchmaker’ hooking up associations to tech-solutions.

Right now, DtL is working with two other companies in their innovation lab to ready free of charge services and is in talks with a third providing support for remote working.

The two companies ‘in the lab’ are:

  •  Fuzzlab – offering its housing-specific chatbot for free to mitigate any reduction in call centre capacity and increased call volumes during the crisis

The technology acts as a virtual agent allowing tenants to self-serve in commonly asked areas, is pre-trained with thousands of sector specific questions and answers, and can be customised with specific responses.

  • XMReality – uses remote guidance connecting people via smart phone and using the camera plus augmented reality to support on site activities

For example, if a gas engineer has to self-isolate, they could guide a less experienced engineer through a fault diagnosis or fix a routine issue from their armchair.

Examples of solutions being worked include managing changes such as limiting travel and employee movements; changing working hours; tracking staff working locations, meetings, and movements; and coordinating internal communications.

“I’m not sure if housing associations really know that there are technologies out there that could mitigate the most serious effects,” said DtL Creative Managing Director Dave Loudan.

“Up and down the country, we’re seeing landlords scrambling to ensure their homeworking strategies work in the event of a scale up.

“We’re seeing infrastructure struggling to keep up, licenses frantically being upgraded and/or increased.”

Scott Summers, co-founder of Fuzzlabs, stressed the help offer came with “no commitment, no strings attached” and no implementation, hosting or support fees.

“It’s just our way of supporting the sector,” he said.

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