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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: Staffordshire's Live Labs final view of the programme

Jake Harrison, Business Innovation Partner at Amey, provides a final blog from Staffordshire.

Over the past two years, Staffordshire County Council and Amey have been working together with SMEs to bring new and innovative mobility solutions to the streets of Staffordshire, through the ADEPT Live Labs programme.

Working with Amey, the Connected Places Catapult and Keele University we created SIMULATE (Smart Infrastructure & Mobility Urban Laboratory and Test Environment) with the aim of connecting ground-breaking advancements in technology from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with real world challenges faced by the local authority.

Key to this approach is working with SMEs, who have established new highways products and services that now need further development and testing in a live environment to determine their commercial viability. The projects we’ve been trialling have focused on a variety of outcomes including improved customer experience, better real-time understanding of every highway’s asset as well as the optimisation of each asset, amongst other outcomes the projects will deliver.

In Staffordshire, the SIMULATE programme has supported projects that are in the early stages of their development. Through development with Connected Places Catapult, Keele University and Amey, SMEs have been able to develop their solutions, followed by testing and iterating the innovations live on the Staffordshire County Council highway network. With the partnership, SMEs were able to test new technology and encourage changes to be made quickly and speed up the development process.

The two main areas of focus for the team were finding solutions that tackled challenges with mobility and air quality. Following a series of workshops and a launch event, over 130 applications were received by SMEs with innovative solutions to address both the air quality and mobility issues in the county. From the 130 applications that were received, 10 winners were selected, and an incubation period began where SMEs got the opportunity to showcase the solutions.

The SIMULATE programme saw trials with electric scooters, EV charging points as well as living walls and the installation of clean air sensors all providing data that can be used when making infrastructure and planning decisions.

SMEs Earthsense and Airlabs were involved with installing air quality sensors in three locations across the county to record, Nox, P.M 2.5 and P.M 10. Three areas across the county were identified as high pollution areas and therefore, places of key interest for the air quality sensors and maximum benefit for the sensors to be deployed for collecting data. The data collected from the sensors was continually monitored during testing who used the findings to assist the SIMULATE team to monitor the solutions deployed to reduce the impact of poor air quality in the identified areas of Staffordshire.

Collecting data from the sensors was the first step for the SIMULATE programme, before trialling and testing innovations in air quality solutions, such as living walls and air scrubbing technology. The data is being analysed with the aim to enable future decisions to be made on how to effectively improve air quality, carbon capture and wellbeing benefits in Staffordshire.

Another successful trial has been the installation of EV charging points. The 7kW ‘fast’ chargers were developed by charge point operator Urban Electric Networks Ltd. The prototype ‘pop-up’ chargers have been designed to reduce the streetscape impact of charge points by retracting fully underground when not in use, while simultaneously improving accessibility and minimising pavement obstruction, compared to traditional charging posts.

The chargers were trialled for six months, during which time they were free to use. Usage data will have been collected from the charging points during the trial period to understand the possible requirement for more charging infrastructure in Staffordshire and to understand how well the chargers perform in their environment. We are excited by the initial results and are looking to identify other locations where more chargers can be installed.

The SIMULATE project has given us a real insight into new technologies that can address some of the challenges we’re facing to reaching our green objectives.

Accelerating more sustainable methods of transport for residents has been one of the key objectives of the SIMULATE programme and is a key part of Staffordshire County Council’s strategy. We are looking forward to continually working with Amey and SMEs to trial innovations that will enhance the area in which we live.

More posts

  • Thames Valley - lessons from a Live Lab

    The latest blog comes from Thames Valley Berkshire Live Lab's Sam Shean.

    With the Live Lab coming to a close in the next few months and a lot of success under its belt, I wanted to use the blog to highlight our trials and share some of the lessons learnt.  

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog: Central Bedfordshire looks to the sun

    The latest blog comes from Central Bedfordshire's Jack Bowers, who takes us away from the storms to think about the power of the sun!

    Summer is on its way! Well, not quite yet, but as the evenings are starting to get a little bit lighter now seems like a good time to provide an update on the Solar Road installation at Central Bedfordshire Council. 

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog: Kent's Live Labs Journey

    Our latest blog is from Carol Valentine at Kent County Council, who talks about their experience of the Live Labs programme.

    The ADEPT Lives Labs project has seen our highways and transportation teams at Kent County Council work alongside Amey to research, trial and rollout new initiatives that are improving the way we manage the network for our communities – covering topics that range from safety to risk based gully cleansing, carbon reduction to the use of drone technology to better predict road repairs.

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog: Cumbria’s plastic roads - the journey so far

    Our latest blog talks about the Cumbria’s Live Labs project.

    Cumbria’s Live Labs project is centred around the use of unrecyclable waste plastic in highways construction. Specifically, the suitability and sustainability of using waste plastic as an additive in highways construction and what the effects and options are in terms of carbon reduction, performance improvements and contributing to a circular economy.

    Read more >

  • Buckinghamshire Live Labs - last mile mobility

    Our latest guest blog is the second from Buckinghamshire on their partnership with Connected Places Catapult (CPC). Georgina Box, Systems Engineer from CPC talks through their work across the county on last mile mobility.

    Let’s recap: what is last mile mobility?

    Last mile mobility has many definitions. For the Buckinghamshire Live Labs study, we defined last mile mobility as the movement of goods or people over short distances to facilitate either:

    Read more >

  • Live Labs blog: Expo round up

    On 1st December the Live Labs teams and their commercial partners, the Commissioning Board and other local authority and industry figures were finally able to meet in person at Derby County FC’s Pride Park Stadium for the long-awaited Live Labs Expo. Oscar Newlands, from the project team, provides a round up.

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog: Adult social care - the fifth white paper

    To complement the release of Adult Social Care, our fifth white paper, Live Labs Programme Director Giles Perkins details how two Live Labs have been able to expand the scope of their trials and deliver wider social benefits beyond the traditional remit of the highways industry.

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog: A Smarter Suffolk's Hackathon

    A Smarter Suffolk Live Labs recently held a hackathon for students in collaboration with the University of Suffolk and BT. Dr Hannah Steventon, an engineering and environmental technology researcher working on the project at the University of Suffolk, goes through the day.

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog – Air quality sensors and living walls in Staffordshire

    Jake Harrison, Business Innovation Partner at Amey, talks about installing air quality sensors and living walls to improve air quality in Staffordshire.

    Staffordshire’s Live Labs programme, SIMULATE, set out to create an air quality test bed to test, improve and scale innovative solutions that could have a direct impact on improving air quality.  

    Read more >

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