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

Live Labs blog: Positive partnerships with West Midlands Police

23 March 2020

The Network Resilience Live Lab, led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), is focused on using innovative video analytics to lay the foundations for a smarter, better-connected and informed transport system across the West Midlands. 

The Live Lab fixed asset operations workstream is focused on using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera technology to automatically analyse video to detect and determine traffic events such as average journey times. While this calls for close collaboration between TfWM and local authorities, the first few months of the programme has highlighted the importance of another key partner with a significant part to play in the success of its long-term objectives. 

West Midlands Police (WMP) plays an integral part in keeping our region’s roads running smoothly and already we are seeing opportunities for collaboration. They have been using ANPR successfully across the region to help identify individuals, not only for traffic offences but a range of other crimes. A recent trial using ANPR along the A34 in Birmingham - a key arterial route in the city – helped reveal the importance of communication between all stakeholders across the region and real synergies with WMP’s use of the technology.

Originally, we had planned to install all our new cameras along the relevant routes, however it soon became apparent that a collaboration with WMP would offer a cost-effective solution that benefitted us both. 

WMP granted TfWM permission to use their existing systems, allowing the ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs budget to be used more effectively and avoid some of the more costly and intrusive infrastructure installation. It also helped to avoid over-populating key routes with cameras, which may have had a negative impact on public perceptions of the project. WMP’s robust approach to public consultations surrounding ANPR and data-protection concerns is key to the project’s success. Our priority is to reassure the public that their privacy is not at risk and this technology is being used for public good that will create long term benefits for local people.

Working alongside WMP has helped to improve efficiency in terms of achieving quicker approvals for highways consents and drawing required power from lighting columns. When a request is backed by the police, organisations are often more obliging!

In return, the Network Resilience Live Lab team aims to aid WMP by developing an innovative, safe and sustainable transport system for the region.This will help to minimise disruption and keep the Midlands moving, particularly during upcoming major events such as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. 

The next step will be to solidify this partnership by securing a service-level agreement with West Midlands Police and to continue building the relationship between key stakeholders, helping us to design a smart solution that benefits everyone. 

The project is already shaping up to be a fascinating and valuable learning experience for all involved, so we’re all excited to get the next phase underway. 


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.

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  • 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.  

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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:

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  • 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.

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  • 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.  

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