Live Labs Blog

The ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs Programme is a two-year, £22.9m project funded by the Department for Transport that will run until Spring 2021. This page will give regular updates on the project.

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Live Labs blog: Birmingham test-bed for innovative video analytics

16 April 2020

The Network Resilience Live Lab is progressing well in its aims to use innovative video analytics to help combat road congestion in Birmingham and Solihull. 

In this blog, we take a look back at the very first trials conducted in February 2019 and how these tests were vital in gathering valuable insight that continues to inform our project activities and deliver best practice.

Identifying the ideal test route 

The A34 is a busy arterial route north of Birmingham that connects the city centre with Walsall. One of the main reasons it was identified as an ideal test-bed for the innovative video analytics was because of its connection with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. With the event’s potential to cause congestion in north Birmingham, the A34 is a route that stands to benefit greatly from the work that the Network Resilience Live Lab is carrying out. 

Hanwa and Samsung cameras were selected for the initial trial and 4Sight provided video analytics via an encrypted wireless feed. The images generated were monitored at Transport for West Midlands’ Regional Transport Coordination Centre (RTCC). 

Valuable lessons for future success  

A number of valuable lessons were learned from the A34 trial that have helped inform subsequent project activities: 

  • The trial helped to rule out technologies and providers that were not closely aligned with the project’s aims
  • We switched our focus from purchasing and installing all new assets, to a more efficient blended approach, utilising existing cameras where possible and installing additional infrastructure to enhance coverage
  • Through stakeholder engagement, we identified the merits of a partnership with West Midlands Police, as discussed in more detail in our previous blog
  • We identified synergies with camera deployment for other projects, avoiding duplication of efforts and extending the reach of each project budget 
  • Further work was required in order for our team to access data in real time, something that is essential to achieving our objectives
  • 4G was found to be more cost-effective than fixed fibre optic transmission, due to the scale of annual leasing costs
  • It became clear that predicting scale-up costs would be more challenging than expected, due to the varying length and existing camera infrastructure of each route 

The initial A34 trial led to a further technical test with West Midlands Police on the A34 south in October 2019, further strengthening the foundations of the project and extending its capability. 

In innovation projects such as these, it is essential to reflect upon learnings at every stage and share findings that may have far-reaching benefits. While Live Labs is a two-year project, it will continue to have significant effects on the infrastructure of the West Midlands road network long after the project ends. 

More posts

  • 9 March 2020

    Suffolk Live Labs: all about that data

    Suffolk County Council’s £4.41m Live Lab is exploring how we can use smart technology across our urban, rural and coastal environments to revolutionise the services we deliver.

    Data is the core of our project and we will be analysing information collected from sensors that monitor road surface temperature, vehicle numbers and classifications, gully levels and air quality to make working efficiencies and reduce costs. We will be testing a multitude of sensors across our differing environments and ultimately working to develop new national standards and guidance.

    Read more >

  • 20 December 2019

    Live Labs blog: project update - Staffordshire doing things differently

    Here in the Staffs Live Lab we are trying to do things a little differently! Over the last two months, we’ve been running the first phase of our Challenge Creation, based around our two focus areas - air quality and intelligent rural mobility. We're aiming to identify the critical issues faced by the county and then develop the tangible challenges that we can release to the SME market.  

    Read more >

  • 3 December 2019

    Live Labs blog: speed dating – the Live Labs way

    Two weeks ago, ADEPT held its annual Autumn Conference in the beautiful city of Bath. Speaking to a packed house of local authorities and corporate partners, Darryl Eyers, the ADEPT President, set the scene for the overall theme ‘Well-connected places in a changing world’.

    The two-day conference covered everything from environmental issues to Brexit, but showcasing innovation and new approaches underpinned it all. For our eight Live Labs, this meant the second day was their time to shine!

    Read more >

  • 20 November 2019

    Live Labs blog: Hit your targets!

    Monitoring and evaluation might not seem the most exciting aspect of a project, but it is critical.

    For Live Labs, with its focus on scalability, shared learning and value for money, it is essential, both for the performance of each project and the programme as a whole. When done properly, the process provides vital feedback on progress, pinpoints areas that need support, as well as helping to identify and realise all the potential benefits.

    Read more >

  • 15 November 2019

    Live Labs blog: Project update - location, location, location!

    This month’s project update comes from the East of England and the team from Central Bedfordshire. 

    Kinetic walkways, solar carparks and thermal de-icing are the exciting new trials being developed by the Central Bedfordshire Live Labs team.

    Harvesting renewable energy to support the smart highways of the future is the focus for the team, which includes Ringway Jacobs, Eurovia, Colas and PaveGen. When colleagues from the Department for Transport visited last week, the team were keen to show how outline designs were shaping up for the proposed site locations:

    Read more >

  • 22 October 2019

    Live Labs blog: Procurement, innovation and learning

    Giles Perkins, Programme Director, talks about Live Labs learning.

    Innovation is one of those words that means different things to different people. In our case, it’s focused around our four enabling ‘smarts’ of materials, energy, communications and mobility in local roads, but there is so much more to innovation than the things we develop, build, test and implement.

    Read more >

  • 2 October 2019

    Live Labs blog: Project update – Buckinghamshire’s busy summer!

    This month, we've caught up with the Buckinghamshire Live Labs team who are focused on creating a SMART, connected community in Aylesbury Garden Town…

    It’s been a busy time. Taking their project out to the community this summer, the team have been showcasing their plans at the Buckinghamshire County Show and Waterside Festival. The good news is it has been very well received! As well as consulting with stakeholders, the team are working closely with Aylesbury District Council to align the project with the Garden Town's own programme of work.  

    Read more >

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