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Live Labs Blog: Buckinghamshire partnership boosts enLight’s growth, despite pandemic

10 December 2020

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.

Buckinghamshire Council’s SMART Places Live Lab project will integrate new technologies and improve efficiency across services. enLight’s Smart Cities solution is a central element of the Live Lab. It transforms existing urban infrastructure, provides a secure, robust backbone to a broad range of real-world sensing – and brings exciting new capabilities to adult social care.

Back in the spring, when we realised the potential impact of Covid-19, we began to explore ways we could make changes to the enLight workplace and our working practices. We put in place technologies to allow staff to work from home and introduced social distancing processes and controls on the factory floor. Expanding our production capability was vital in creating the innovation required by the ADEPT Live Lab project. Highly integrated products called for an additional pick and place machine to be added to our electronic surface-mount production line.

But technology innovation and machines need skilled engineers and operators. Despite the pandemic, our partnership with Buckinghamshire Council has given us the ability to increase the size of our workforce by 50%, creating new jobs locally. In addition, we have worked extensively with local subcontractors, boosting employment in the region even further.

Our Smart Cities technology allows lampposts of any type to become communications platforms featuring lighting control and monitoring capabilities. The technology is expandable and can sense multiple aspects of the local environment: weather, road temperature, light levels, air quality, motion, and noise. Bluetooth beacons enable a new era of localised and community information-sharing. We are making Buckinghamshire’s streetlights – old and new – smart by retrofitting them with our solutions.

The impact on the local authority and community will be significant: two immediate examples are energy saving and carbon reduction. Lights can be dimmed when they are not needed, and repair teams can be alerted straight away when a lamppost has a fault or has been damaged. Going forward, many additional use cases will be addressed through the application of real-world sensing: cost efficiencies across service and maintenance, better informed traffic management and urban planning.

Our smart cities solution is built upon our latest enTalk products; Aurca and DolFinial. They are designed and built to meet the needs of the demanding use cases of local authorities. The Aurca plugs into a standard NEMA socket and is a compact, highly integrated unit featuring rich, secure communications, control, and sensing capabilities. The DolFinial shares the same capabilities as the Aurca but can be seamlessly incorporated into heritage-style lanterns, maintaining their wonderful aesthetic.

Our adult social care solution provides zero-impact technologies to support vulnerable young and elderly members of the community to live fuller, independent lives. We are delivering an integrated, in-home, low-intrusion, camera-less solution which provides vulnerable adults with information that will support them in new ways while keeping them in control of their lives and mitigating the need for residential care – a hugely important consideration during this pandemic.
We are thrilled to be part of the Buckinghamshire Council ADEPT Live Labs project and excited to be helping to deliver benefits across the local authority, as well as providing a positive impact on both the environment and wellbeing across local communities. It’s been a horrible year, but we’re proud to have risen to the challenge.