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Flagship Group, connect 20,000 properties in industry’s largest ever smart home deal

Flagship Group is to rollout smart, internet connected technology in the majority of their 31,000 homes across the East of England. The move, the largest of its kind in the housing sector, is part of a wider digital transformation strategy that will see the organisation benefit from significant efficiency gains and improve the quality of service to residents.

Following a detailed two-year pilot in 500 homes, Flagship has chosen the sector’s well-established Internet of Things (IoT) provider, Switchee, to lead the rollout.

Matt Brazier, Director of IT and Services said: “The data that we receive from Switchee has allowed us to rethink how we run our services in the future. Switchee helps understand which properties need attention in real time. We can fix damp and mould issues and book visits with the residents via the system. We chose Switchee as our partner because they have the most comprehensive offering in the market and are willing to work with us on new features. Soon, all our homes will be connected, and we are taking the first step in that journey”.

A Switchee Smart Thermostat will be installed in each of the 20,000 properties. The device acts as a simple and intuitive control for the heating system and will allow residents to save up to 17% on their energy bill. It also offers remote control of the heating system via an app.

Data is sent from the Switchee device via the mobile phone network up to the cloud. This information is processed, and the insights are shared directly with the Flagship maintenance and support teams in real time.

David Armstrong, CFO of Flagship Group said: “The pilot data has shown us that for every £1 we invest in this technology, we generate £2 of value through savings to customers and improved efficiency. The evidence on savings and customer satisfaction has convinced us that this is a very worthwhile investment for the Group, offering true value for money”

Additionally, the Switchee in-home display will be used as a communication tool for residents. Lorna Blackmore, Director of Communication and Integration said: “The pilot has shown us this is a very effective way to communicate with our customers with a 92% response rate to messages within 24 hours. We are using the system to run surveys, book gas safety appointments and send reminders to them. The ability to communicate with customers directly is invaluable; we want to provide outstanding customer service and being able to confirm appointments, receive feedback and provide detailed information all helps to shape the customer experience”.

Flagship will also use the technology to improve service levels on emergency call outs via Gasway Services, their in-house heating specialist. Andy Merrill, Senior Contracts Manager at Gasway said: “During the pilot we used Switchee to test boilers before the winter. My team were able to visit properties with problems and fix them before the winter peak. This rollout will allow us to be proactive in fixing issues before they affect customers”

Flagship Group will begin the 20,000 roll out in April 2021 as part of its routine boiler replacement programme. Existing supply chain routes will be used to procure the Switchee Smart Thermostat via PTS/City Plumbing and Wolseley merchants under the EEM (Efficiency East Midlands) procurement framework. Switchee Software Services will be procured via G-Cloud as a call-off contract.