Electrical Contracting News (ECN) March 2017 - Page 6

INDUSTRY NEWS ELECTRICIANS’ BUSY START TO 2017 WITH SURGING BUSINESS CALLS Electricians are experiencing an extremely busy start to the year with a spike in calls, according to figures released by telephone answering service, Moneypenny. The company’s PAs, which look after the telephone calls for hundreds of electricians in the UK, saw a 62 per cent increase in business calls in January, in a likefor-like comparison compared with calls in December. The busiest day of the year for business calls to electricians was Wednesday 11th January, with a 79 per cent increase in calls compared with the previous three Wednesdays. January saw a 62 per cent increase on December in business calls to electricians. ‘It’s encouraging to see the electrical trade experience this surge in activity and interest so early on in the year,’ said Laura Lloyd, new business manager at Moneypenny. ‘Whilst we know the demand for their services is there, it does suggest, that although many electricians have call answering in place, there will be many more who are letting vital business calls go unanswered – therefore missing out on customers. Laura added, ‘We discovered recently that 69 per cent of callers don’t leave voicemail messages when they can’t get through to a tradesman, and will instead hang up. This could be having a huge impact on their revenue. So, given the high call volume for electricians this year already, plugging the gap should be firmly on their agenda for 2017.’ DIMPLEX: GAS SAFETY STATS SHOW WHY PRIVATE LANDLORDS SHOULD TURN TO ELECTRIC Electric heating must be the ‘sensible’ choice for private landlords, according to Dimplex, after new findings show more than a fifth of privately rented properties have an unsafe gas appliance. Although today’s gas appliances should be perfectly safe to use in rental properties, investigation data by the Gas Safe Register spanning five years shows that 21 per cent of privately rented homes still have an unsafe gas appliance – and 59 per cent of those appliances are gas heaters. The overriding problem that leads to unsafe gas heaters is the failure to ensure regular maintenance – all gas appliance manufacturers recommend that this should be done annually. Unfortunately, owners of private rental properties are either failing to realise this, or worse deliberately ignoring this requirement, endangering their tenants. Chris Stammers, product marketing director for Dimplex, says the research only serves to reinforce the benefits of electric for the UK’s army of two million private landlords, which let five million properties. He said, ‘From a landlord’s perspective, in many cases, it makes more sense to fit electric heating rather than gas. The capital costs of a new gas system, the annual servicing requirements, the system reliability and longevity – it can be a huge financial burden and of course a legislative nightmare. ‘By choosing electric, they can provide their tenants with close control of temperature, fast warm up and cool down times, room-by-room control and high satisfaction levels too. For the landlord, there is peace of mind as there is no requirement for the annual servicing seen in gas appliances. This is all achieved without incurring disproportionately high heating bills, which many people still mistakenly associate with electric heating.’ TENDERSPACE: SME CONTRACTORS WILL BENEFIT FROM GOVERNMENT HOUSEBUILDING POLICY In an announcement set to shake up the housebuilding market, Prime Minister Theresa May says she will force councils to build hundreds of thousands of new homes a year in order to meet the government target of building one million new homes by 2020. Part of the plan, launched in February, will open up the chance for development contracts to be won by smaller building firms, widening competition and reducing the big housebuilding firms’ dominance in this area. ‘We welcome this announcement by the government, which, if it becomes legislation, will mean that the smaller building contractor will be able to access a considerable number of new development opportunities,’ said David Stapleton, CEO and founder of construction software service TenderSpace which offers tradespeople the chance to grow, manage and protect their businesses. The Prime Minister has controversially proposed to lift the traditional ban on building on green belt sites, once brownfield ones have been exhausted. She also plans to relax planning permission restrictions on extensions and new builds, to end disruptive ‘landbanking’ practices and targets inner city sites for further development. For further information visit: www.thetenderspace.com David Stapleton, CEO and founder of construction software service TenderSpace SMART HOME INDUSTRY MUST TAKE THE LEAD IN DELIVERING TRUST, SAYS BEECHAM RESEARCH Smart home systems must be secure by design across products and services and the entire supply chain if the industry is to deliver on its promises and meet ambitious market growth predictions, says a new report published by Beecham Research. In its report, ‘Bringing Security in the Smart Home: Approaches and Opportunities’, Beecham Research says that while connected appliances such as entertainment, lighting, home security and heating systems are already finding their way into typical households, there is a very real concern about security and privacy, which is holding back wider adoption. ‘Smart homes by their nature introduce connections between multiple systems at multiple touch points and create an intersection between many other systems, including There is a real concern about security and privacy in smart homes, which is holding back wider adoption. vehicles, energy grids, media streaming and the cloud,’ says Saverio Romeo, principal analyst at Beecham Research. ‘An exploitable vulnerability in the home could lead to more serious breaches in any of the systems it touches, which complicates the security landscape. Whereas traditional network security focuses on fortifying, protecting and monitoring small numbers of routes to the network, an IoT (Internet of Things) environment has too many routes to effectively and economically secure in the same way. So, while many smart home devices are designed to be secure, the connections between them are often not protected.’ The Beecham Research report is available at www.beechamresearch.com. The new focused report is an extension of a wider look at the Smart Homes market published at the end of last year entitled, ‘Smart Home Market – Current Status, Consumption Trends and Future Directions’. SURVEY: FOUR IN 10 BUILDINGS AT MAJOR RISK FROM CYBER ATTACKS Almost four in 10 clients (39 per cent) say that they don’t take any steps to protect smart installations in buildings from cyber threats, according to new survey findings from the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and Scottish electrical trade body SELECT. Half of respondents to the survey (49 per cent) said that the risk of hacking, and its impact on unsecured networks, was a potential barrier to installing connected technology, highlighting the inherent cyber threats to buildings in the modern era. The findings raise major security and privacy implications for the UK’s business infrastructure, particularly given the likely increase in smart installations over the coming years, and growth of cyber attacks as an effective tool to disrupt business and politics. Steve Martin, head of specialist groups at the ECA, commented, ‘These figures are very concerning, particularly when you consider the inherent risks in the modern day of not securing your business from hackers. Clearly this is an area which clients urgently need to address, given the anticipated growth in smart installations over the coming years.’ The ‘Connected Technology Survey for Clients’ ran over a three-week period in November and December last year. Overall, there were 229 responses to the survey, including from consultants, engineers, end clients, local authorities and facilities managers. ‘Connected Technology’ refers to any technology that enables devices within a building to communicate with each other, be controlled remotely through a connection to the Internet and undertake automated and reactive tasks. This covers installations such as lighting, audio visual, fire, security and HVAC. At present, just 20 per cent of the UK’s commercial buildings are considered to be ‘smart’. However, over the next four years, the global Internet of Things market is expected to be worth over £1 trillion annually. 6 | March 2017