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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

  • Live Labs blog: Monitoring & Evaluation - a new approach

    Proving Services Director, Karen Farquharson, performed the monitoring and evaluation role for the Live Labs programme. This blog accompanies the White Paper, A New Approach to Monitoring and Evaluation, and includes some observations, reflections and learning from the evaluation process to date.

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog: reaching SMEs with outcome based procurement

    Louise Clayton, Head of Transport Operations and Future Connectivity at Staffordshire County Council, explains how the digital revolution in global infrastructure and mobility has provided the opportunity to transform how the council procures and delivers its services.

    Staffordshire’s Live Lab, SIMULATE (Smart Infrastructure & Mobility Urban Laboratory and Test Environment) aims to connect ground-breaking advancements in technology from Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs) with real-world challenges faced by local authorities.

    Read more >

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

    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.

    Read more >

  • 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 >

  • 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 >

  • 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 >

  • 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 >

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