Skip to main content

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

  • Live Labs Blog: Power Road Installation

    Jack Bowers, from Central Bedfordshire Council Live Lab, takes us through the Power Road Installation

    As temperatures begin to drop, nights draw in and with friendly reminders on the news that we are less than 100 days away from Christmas, it’s the time of year where local authorities begin planning for their winter maintenance season.

    Read more >

  • Atkins - supporting digital evolution

    Our latest blog is another Commissioning Board perspective, this time from Atkins’ Jason Pavey.

    I’m thrilled that Atkins has been a Corporate Sponsor of ADEPT for several years, and I’ve been lucky to have been involved in the SMART Places Live Labs programme since its inception. In my mind, bringing the public and private sectors together has created an opportunity to collaborate and drive more innovation than each party would have achieved on its own. Live Labs is the perfect example of that synergy and is something that has been close to my heart. 

    Read more >

  • Cumbria Live Lab - trials with Shell a first for Europe

    Matt Waning, project lead for the Cumbria Live Lab, talks about their new partnership with international energy company, Shell.

    Cumbria’s Live Lab is investigating the sustainability and suitability of using additives derived from waste plastics as part of our highways surfacing programme. We are aiming to reduce our carbon footprint and provide a more resilient road network. The trials carry out real world tests using new highways technology and methods on local roads, which could revolutionise the highways and waste industry.

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog: Kent takes flight!

    Kent Live Labs Project Manager, Carol Valentine, talks about phase two of the drones trial running from April to November 2021.  

    Along with AmeyVTOL, Collins Aerospace, and Aviat drones, we are embarking on phase two of the drone trial technology project in a bid to inspect vegetation (soft landscape) and highways assets around the network, and identify any defects in power and water utilities infrastructure around Kent.

    Read more >

  • Transport for West Midlands Live Lab - a deep dive into the personas of the travelling public

    Managing traffic demand in context of the regional population’s habits is an important part of driving successful behaviour change. Sarah Bayliss, Human Insight Manager at Transport for West Midlands describes how the Network Resilience Live Lab programme is taking this to a new level.

    The Network Resilience Live Lab has been seeking to understand residents’ travel habits and lifestyles in our seven metropolitan district areas as a way of better reaching them at times when there is a need to re-route, re-mode, re-time, or reduce their journeys.

    Read more >

  • Smarter Suffolk meets Canadian technology

    The Smarter Suffolk Live Lab has joined forces with Canadian technology firm, LED Roadway Lighting Ltd. Project Manager, Brigitte Sodano-Carter, of Suffolk County Council takes us through this exciting collaboration and the wide ranging use of sensors in their trial.

    Read more >

Media enquiries: please contact Coast Communications 01579 352600 | VAT number: 337 0556 05 | Website by Cosmic