A first of its kind scheme to pilot sensors to monitor and manage building services at Osborne House, the former holiday home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, will start following a successful trial at Kenwood House.

Dozens of tiny sensors are to be installed inside the house to discreetly monitor environmental changes within the building. The technology learns what normal looks like for the building over a short period.

The pilot is part of Ecclesiastical’s loss prevention innovation programme and is helping English Heritage to reduce costs. English Heritage’s annual budget for maintaining its buildings is around £15 million. The pilot is assisting the charity’s objective to achieve a 25% reduction in operating costs.

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The sensors – which are unobtrusive, battery-operated, and do not require Wi-Fi – are deployed across the estate and send live real-time data back to be analysed, enabling English Heritage to identify performance issues in its mechanical and electrical plant, or catch minor leaks before they cause major problems.

The technology which was first trialled at Kenwood House throughout the pandemic identifies key areas where cost savings and efficiencies can be made, as well as how to optimise its building services during the national lockdowns.

Ecclesiastical, English Heritage, and technology firm, Shepherd, are collaborating with the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage to give Data Science for Cultural Heritage MSc students access to data and insights from the pilot.

Faith Kitchen, Heritage Director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said:

“As the UK’s leading insurer of Grade I listed buildings, we’re passionate about protecting Britain’s heritage. As part of our innovation programme we’re delighted to be partnering with English Heritage and Shepherd to expand our cutting edge technology pilot. We know that rising energy costs are a major concern and incidents such as electrical fire or escape of water can be disastrous for customers, which is why we’re piloting innovative solutions to detect issues as early as possible.”

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Rob Woodside, Conservation and Estates Director at English Heritage, said:

“The application of live real-time monitoring has huge potential to revolutionise the management of heritage estates in a sustainable way. This pilot will enable us to minimise risks to the building and its irreplaceable collections by cost-effective evidence-based preventive maintenance.

“We are now equipped with real-time insight and a risk score which enables us to make smarter, more informed decisions around how we manage the performance and risk of stately homes and historic buildings, both day-to-day and strategically. This insight is not a ‘nice to have’ but absolutely essential for us to both better protect the building, its contents and revenue.”

Stephen Chadwick, CEO at Shepherd, said:

“We are delighted to be supporting Ecclesiastical and English Heritage as they transform the way they manage risk. Shepherd’s real-time, 24/7 monitoring and alerts, pre-empt and prevent damage, breakdowns and emergencies. Our risk analysis enables a consolidated overview of the performance of the property to support keeping Osborne House and its contents, safe for many years to come.”

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Helen Highwater
Helen Highwater
1 month ago

“New technology”? Where has English Heritage been hiding – this stuff has been in widespread use for years. In fact, it’s now commonly done via WiFi as it’s so much cheaper. But then EH were never keen on saving other people’s money.

Level Phil
Level Phil
1 month ago

With an entrance fee of nearly £20 for an adult, why the need to cut running costs? They will be quids in when the tourists return.

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