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.

Latest post

Humidity sensing in Suffolk … and on the International Space Station!

7 April 2021

Dr Hannah Steventon is an engineering and environmental technology researcher, working on the Smarter Suffolk Live Labs project at the University of Suffolk. She regularly volunteers as a STEM Ambassador, bringing science and technology to life for young people, and is a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator. In our latest blog, Hannah tells us why she is excited about developing technology to support decision-making that enables environmental and economic benefits, and bringing the learnings to life for young people.

The University of Suffolk is working with Suffolk County Council as a research partner, which means we have been able to share the Smarter Suffolk Live Labs project with young learners across the county. Alongside my research for the Live Lab, I also work with university and school students developing learning based on the project. Challenges from the Live Lab have been shared with university students on several courses, as data to explore and technical issues to address. The exposure to real world situations has been really beneficial to their understanding of work beyond their studies. In return, the students’ approaches and achievements have been shared with Suffolk County Council and the Live Labs team.

In relation to the Smarter Suffolk trial sensors activity, I recently ran online workshops with children aged 11 to 14, including 20 young people from local scout groups. I introduced them to sensors used to measure humidity and temperature for road gritting decisions.

During the session we talked about different uses of temperature and humidity measurements, which included how the sensors are used to make decisions on when road gritting is needed in the winter in Suffolk. When the children see the gritters out, keeping the roads safe near their homes, they will now understand more about the measurements and decisions that were made earlier in the day.

As well, each child had the opportunity to write a code in the same Python programming language as the device developers use – the code runs a specific set of sensors called a Sense Hat, which run on a Raspberry Pi computer. Their code used simulated sensor readings to generate an output on an online emulator, displaying when humidity and temperature are too low or too high.

Temperature and humidity measurements are also used to keep the atmosphere safe for people and equipment in controlled environments like hospitals and data centres … and the International Space Station (ISS)! As part of the Astro Pi Challenge, a European Space Agency project, the codes the scouts wrote were for the computer and sensors on the ISS. Each code will be uploaded to run the ISS computer to measure humidity, the results of which will be displayed to the astronauts on the space station. The scouts will get a certificate showing where the ISS was when their personal code ran, and each one has also earned a Digital Maker Scout Badge to sew on their uniform.

The Fifth Woodbridge Sea Scouts loved taking part in the project. Reflecting on what they learned about Suffolk Highways services, one scout who lives near a local depot, said “It’s cool to know what happens before the gritters drive out. There’s a lot of work in keeping the roads safe”.

All the scouts enjoyed trying something new and finding out about some of the possible careers in science and engineering. They said “We loved it” and it was the “Best thing in lockdown”. The leaders were thrilled to have the opportunity to be a “space scientist” and for the children to build “skills for life”.

Suffolk’s Live Lab's perspective comes from Project Manager, Brigitte Sodano-Carter, she said: “Suffolk County Council is thrilled to be working so closely with the University of Suffolk on the Adept Live Labs Smarter Suffolk sensors project. The opportunity to join together and raise awareness of our work in Suffolk is wonderful. It is so pleasing to see young people getting involved, engaged and interested in the work we are doing. To hear how much the scouts learnt from the experience is fabulous feedback from the next generation – potential researchers of the future"


More posts

  • 21 March 2021

    Live Labs - is it time to look at local government in a new light?

    With the publication of our second White Paper – Digital Innovation in Local Roads - Neil Gibson, Chair of the Live Labs’ Commissioning Board discusses some of the potential wider impacts of the programme.

    When the ADEPT first discussed what became the Live Labs programme, our focus was on the need to introduce digital technologies across local roads. However, four years later, now that we’re in the trials phase, it has evolved into something with far more transformative potential.

    Read more >

  • 12 March 2021

    Live Labs Blog: Cumbria’s drive towards a circular economy

    In this month’s blog, we discuss the Live Labs approach to a circular economy and Matthew Waning, Cumbria County Council’s Project Lead, discusses Cumbria’s ‘Plastic Roads’ project.

    In a society that is ever more conscious of the environment, our Live Labs have had to consider the sustainability of their projects from the outset.

    Read more >

  • 18 December 2020

    Live Labs Blog: Embracing Virtual! Adept Live Labs Expo

    On December 2nd, the Live Labs teams fully embraced our ‘Working from Home’ credentials by holding our first Virtual Live Labs Expo. The original plan of a live event has been postponed until 9th June 2021, when we look forward to seeing you all in Derby. Although no one got to shake hands with any of our teams and have a face-to-face conversation, the virtual aspect of the Expo did have its advantages!  

    Read more >

  • 10 December 2020

    Live Labs Blog: Buckinghamshire partnership boosts enLight’s growth, despite pandemic

    David Aarons of enLight, has written a guest blog about enLight's work on the Live Labs project.

    The Coronavirus pandemic has dealt a massive blow to the UK economy, with projects stalled and businesses hurting. enLight, through its partnership with Buckinghamshire Council’s ADEPT Live Lab project, has bucked these trends. We have created new jobs at our Norfolk HQ, enabling us to deliver the key Smart Cities solutions that are core to the scheme.

    Read more >

  • 30 November 2020

    Live Labs Community Impact: Adult Social Care

    In our latest blog, Zoe Collis, the Live Labs Adult Integration Project Manager from Buckinghamshire Council, and Brigitte Sodano-Carter, the Project Delivery and Development Manager from Suffolk County Council, talk about their Live Labs trials to support adult social care within their communities. 

    Read more >

  • 2 November 2020

    Live Labs Blog: Top Marks for Collaboration

    To deliver cutting edge innovations, our Live Labs have turned to a wide range of partners, including those in academia. Collaborating with universities has offered many benefits for all involved.   

    Read more >

  • 30 September 2020

    Live Labs Blog: Getting ready for winter

    As the nights start to draw in and temperatures drop, we take a look at how some of our Live Lab innovations can support highways in the winter months…

    One of the most exciting initiatives is Central Bedfordshire’s Thermal Energy Live Lab. The Council is using the Thorn Turn Highways Depot as a test site for a system called Power Road. 

    Read more >

  • 28 August 2020

    Live Labs Blog: Kent goes international

    From drone and road surface temperature sensor trials, to collaboration with other Live Lab projects and fostering international connections, Carol Valentine, Highways Project Manager Live Labs at Kent County Council, gives an update on Kent’s Local Highways Asset Management Technology Incubator initiative.

    Read more >