In the run up to the Digital Housing Conference 2018, we will be sharing some insight about the digital housing landscape and refreshing what we have already learned from previous events.
This insight is from Community UK.net, a previous digital housing event sponsor, and was gathered for last year’s Digital Housing conference with a view to showcase the work they do and how their support and services can help improve your company’s digital development.
Q1) Please could you give a brief overview of Community UK.net?
CommunityUK is a pioneering company that provides the world’s first, truly complete Digital Inclusion solution. From our incorporation in 2009 we’ve achieved rapid growth delivering free Wireless Broadband and Digital Inclusion support to communities, housing providers and organisations. We’re now one of the most successful and experienced organisations in our field with our Networks supporting thousands of users in communities across the UK, including Hampshire, Kent, The Midlands, Yorkshire, Manchester, Scotland and many more.
Our accelerated growth, combined with over a decade of experience working within the field of Digital Inclusion, has now led us to the next stage of our continuing evolution – the launch of our new, highly focused approach to both Digital Inclusion and Digital Engagement. Our updated company mantra ‘Connect, Include, Reach, Engage’ both perfectly encapsulates the values and approach we have taken to Digital Inclusion from day one, as well as sets out the specialist service areas in which our expert teams are focused.
Through ‘Connect’ we ensure that communities and organisations across the UK have the opportunity to access reliable, high-speed internet connectivity. In particular, we work with Housing Associations to design, install and manage, Broadband WiFi networks that are completely free of charge to their residents. As a community-minded business, we are not some a corporate giant trying to line our own pocket. We work closely to ensure that all costs are kept to a minimum and our equitable revenue share model is designed to repay capital expenditure as quickly as possible – whilst providing our Clients with an ongoing return year-after-year.
‘Include’ focuses on helping businesses and people living within communities receive the tools and information they need to socialise, develop and grow through digital technology. Our award-nominated ‘Going All Inclusive’ Digital Inclusion methodology, which integrates perfectly with our ‘Connect’ products, acknowledges that Housing Providers cannot lead their residents into a new digital world if their own processes and systems are not readied in advance. Our methodology first prepares Housing Providers to facilitate greater Digital Inclusion and then works to deliver the motivation, engagement and empowerment needed by the community to be capable of benefitting from everything the new digital world has to offer.
The primary product we offer within ‘Reach’ is CUKLocal (our soon to be re-launched hyper-local Community Web Portal; the first web-page accessed by thousands of people using our Networks everyday – further details in Q3 below!) which enables people and organisations to ‘Reach’ out to one another easier than ever before. It ensures that local organisations can reap the benefits that can be gained when digital platforms are used effectively to ‘Engage’ with Customers, Partners and Suppliers with CUK able to provide businesses and local organisations with digital advertising and branding guidance.
Each of the above services can be used in conjunction with one another or as a standalone product. CommunityUK’s unique model has led us to develop strong relationships with many of the most eminent Digital Inclusion organisations in the UK, such as the Government Digital Service, the Tinder Foundation, Scottish Futures Trust and Digital Scotland. As a recognised leader in our field we have been invited to join both the Government’s Digital Leaders Programme, the Digital Inclusion Charter and have been nominated for the Digital Leaders 100 Awards in 2014 & 2015, as well as in the 2015 NextGen Digital Challenge Awards.
Q2) What attracted you to the Conference?
The digital revolution has transformed how the providers of social housing are now able to engage and interact with their tenants. I.T. also plays a key role in enabling providers to switch to lower-cost channels; improving the overall tenant experience by delivering efficient, cost-effective services which meet the needs of users, whilst at the same time contending with the Government’s ‘Digital by Default’ agenda, Universal Credit and the 2015 Budget.
CommunityUK.net has successfully worked with many clients to help them face these challenges, by installing, managing and monitoring state-of-the-art network solutions. We also have a track record of supporting social housing providers to encourage their tenants to become financially, socially and digitally included. This is done by helping improve their digital skills, in order to become smarter in the way they use digital technology, and helping to encourage digital inclusion through technological solutions.
It is our belief that events such as The Future of Digital Housing Conference 2015 are essential for providing an opportunity for collaboration between organisations working within the social housing sector. Such events as key in surfacing new ideas for digital technology and inclusion, as well as helping to create a direction forward for the industry as a whole – all of which are critical in ensuring the challenges facing HA’s over the next decade are to be met.
Q3) How can Community UK help support those looking to digitalise their services?
For social housing providers looking to digitise their services, CommunityUK.net offers a wide range of products capable of making a substantial impact. These include:
We can work with social housing providers to extend the digital “Reach” of their organisation and community with our unique Hyper-Local Web Portal. CUKLocal is the first webpage seen by the thousands of CommunityUK users accessing our network every day and acts as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all a resident’s needs, including accessing housing provider content, local news and events, virtual learning, social networking, job-searching and much more. We can seamlessly integrate a Client’s existing website functionality (or help to create this functionality), including reporting repairs, paying bills or reporting anti-social behaviour in to the portal. CUK Local is not only a great way to increase engagement with tenants but also a fantastic way to support channel-shift within your organisation.
Although providing reliable connectivity is key, CommunityUK.net also acts as a Digital Inclusion consultancy. As well as providing advisory services, we can work with Housing Associations to roll-out our award-nominated ‘Going All Inclusive’ programme construction and management methodology. We can use our experience to ensure that Housing Providers are ready for the necessary internal changes required to facilitate greater Digital Inclusion and the huge benefits achievable as a result, as well as to ensure that residents and local businesses are actually able to use the newly implemented digital channels available to them to interact with their Housing Provider.
If you would like to attend The Future of Digital Housing Conference and Exhibition ‘Transforming housing services through technology’ please book here.