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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.

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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 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. 

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  • 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.   

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  • 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. 

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  • 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.

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  • Live Labs Blog: Buckinghamshire lights up

    As with all local authority programmes across the country, Buckinghamshire’s Live Lab, a SMART connected community project in Aylesbury Garden Town, has been impacted by COVID-19. While work has continued at a slower pace with some partners furloughing staff and the team working from home, some aspects of the project that began before lockdown, are able to carry on.

    In our latest blog, John Hartley from Exel Composities UK, brings a partner perspective…

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  • Live Labs blog: Birmingham test-bed for innovative video analytics

    The Network Resilience Live Lab is progressing well in its aims to use innovative video analytics to help combat road congestion in Birmingham and Solihull. 

    In this blog, we take a look back at the very first trials conducted in February 2019 and how these tests were vital in gathering valuable insight that continues to inform our project activities and deliver best practice.

    Identifying the ideal test route 

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  • 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.

    Read more >

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