Like all housing associations, Arcade faces the challenge of how to expand its properties, keep them up-to-date, and make them more sustainable in the coming years. Digitalization is one way to make that happen. Arcade came across Spotr through the housing association Woonstad Rotterdam. Portfolio Manager Ronald Rouwendaal: "We've now got a replicable system in a central location in the organization where we can see the condition of each building in just a few clicks."
As Portfolio Manager, Ronald is part of the digitalization working group that was established at Arcade over two years ago. "Our sector is ageing, meaning that we will lose experienced employees in the coming years and a great deal of knowledge and experience in the process. That's why it's even more important to secure processes properly and to be able to share data with each other properly. This makes us more effective. We can get results much more directly and quickly."
Getting it right the first time
"We began our search for a good system by asking other housing associations ideas. We are keen to learn from each other. This is also how we came to Woonstad Rotterdam. Their story appealed to us. Woonstad Rotterdam had been struggling with an abundance of data. Sometimes they had three drawings of an estate, but no longer knew which one was the right one. And so they'd still have to go back and get the estate measured again. We were familiar with all that. We had our data in order, but had also purchased property over the years that wasn't all in the system correctly. Of course, you want the data that you have to be accurate. You want to communicate the right information first time around."
"This is also important when collaborating with maintenance partners. We experienced how our partners came back with different lists of measurements when we wanted to get painting done, for example. And we were unable to check it quickly."
Inspecting buildings remotely
Spotr maps Arcade's real estate with photos from sources including satellites, planes, and drones, and links it to their multi-year maintenance plans. All data and images are collected in one place, so that Arcade and its partners always have the same up-to-date data. What does the estate look like, what is its condition and quality, what maintenance is needed? Where can solar panels be installed?
"We can now inspect buildings remotely. We might see moss formation on the roofs and know that we need to take action. We can also inspect the maintenance needs and rusting of balcony railings on high-rise buildings. Soon we will no longer have to bother the residents. And whereas we used to be dependent on third parties for this, now we can take the lead much more."
More insights than expected
"The collaboration with Spotr is going well. For us, it was important to get a replicable system for each estate. This enables someone from our maintenance department to call up a property within Spotr and see exactly where and how many square meters of paintwork the estate has, how much glass, what the roof looks like, etc. And they can also trust that information."
"This did take some getting used to in the beginning. We have a lot of knowledge in the organization, and several employees were initially skeptical about what Spotr could do. 'Let me measure it myself, then I'll be sure,' they said. But that's an adjustment process you have to go through together. We have always been very transparent and have taken any doubts seriously. Spotr provides more insights than we could have imagined. And it can also be used for much more than we already do."
Much faster and more practical
A great example of how Arcade uses Spotr is to quickly see which roofs are suitable for solar panels. "Before, we had to send a letter to all the residents. If they were interested in solar panels, they could contact us and our partner would go there for a survey. Now with Spotr, we can make scans of the estates from our desks. We can see everything: whether the roof can handle solar panels, the amount of sunlight and shadows, whether there’s a dormer, and the measurements of everything. We can create a potential list of the most suitable estates in no time. We then load the list into Excel to pick out the homes that are about to undergo maintenance and get a new roof. We forward the rest to our partner. It's so much faster and more practical. And our partner can also use Spotr to create an installation plan right away."
Better communication with residents
"Another nice feature is that the images are an enormous help when communicating with residents. Sometimes residents are disappointed that they are not getting solar panels when their neighbors are. We can then use Spotr to show them really clearly why it can't be done on their roof. There might not be enough space, for example. We can then explain: 'Sorry, it's just not possible even if we wanted to,' and they understand when they see the photos: 'Yes, when I see it like this, with all those pipes and skylights, there really isn't much space left.'"
"In a certain neighborhood we are encouraging residents to add more plants and flowerbeds to their gardens. From the images in Spotr, we saw that this is the most paved area in the whole region. This can lead to problems when there is flooding. And now we can literally show this to the residents. 'These are the gardens in your neighborhood, do you see any opportunities to do something? We'd love to help you.' Not everyone will want to participate, but being able to show pictures helps us to get many residents on board more easily."
Using Spotr for condition assessments
"Housing associations that work with Spotr have a wide range of great possibilities. And you hardly need to put any time or man-hours into it as an organization to get it working. It already has a lot of things that anyone can make use of. We are investigating whether Spotr can be used for tock condition surveys too. It is currently mandatory to do a stock condition survey every 3 years. With Spotr, we can do it every year without any additional manpower."
"Since Spotr works so fast, we can set priorities very quickly. You can immediately locate maintenance problems and visit estates in a much more targeted way. Then you can focus on your actual job: maintaining our properties well and directing attention to where it's needed most."
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