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Published: 14 June 2016

Big data to drive housing policy

The University has partnered with housing consultancy Sustainable Homes to develop an analytical tool to help social landlords harness ‘big data’ for decision making.

The government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, has awarded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funding for the project.

The tool will use data from multiple sources, such as build and land costs, housing need and market rates, to enable decisions on where and what type of homes to build.

The project will develop predictive, algorithms-based software that can harness the potential of big data. It will also seek out efficiencies in maintenance and repairs programmes and could even predict when faults are likely to happen.

Professor Eugene Sadler-Smith, from Surrey Business School, said: “The University is absolutely delighted to be working on this project which is at the cutting-edge of management decision-making research and real-world practice.

“An exponential increase in the volume of data that companies are now able to access has the potential to revolutionise organisational decision-making processes both at the operational and strategic levels. Through this project we will work collaboratively with Sustainable Homes to transform information into management insights and then into impactful business decisions.”

Andrew Eagles, managing director of Sustainable Homes, said: “We want to help the sector use the power of big data to really get under the skin of where efficiencies can happen in the management of stock. We are working with Innovate UK and our parent company Hastoe to fine-tune a model that can then be used to help others identify potential savings in their businesses.”

Many efficiencies that are being targeted not only save money but also help cut emissions, such as a reduction in van miles that repair teams will travel if more visits are planned and there are fewer ‘reactive’ calls.

The long-term vision is to develop the tool for other markets, such as affordable housing in Europe as well as private landlords managing significant numbers of homes in the UK.

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