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Live Labs 1 Blog

The ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs Programme was a two-year, £22.9m project funded by the Department for Transport that ran until June 2022. This page features all the blogs from 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 Blog: the final view from Thames Valley Berkshire Live Labs

    Reading Borough Council’s James Crosbie provides a final blog.

    Just over three years ago, Reading Borough Council, working with the other five Berkshire authorities, commercial partners and the University of Reading, embarked on our ambitious Live Labs programme.

    The programme was centred around big data insights, bringing together air quality, potholes, energy and health with transport to develop and demonstrate technologies and data insights to improve services and our environment.

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog: the final view from A Smarter Suffolk

    Suffolk’s Richard Webster provides the final blog from one of our Live Labs that found itself innovating beyond local highways.

    Just over three years ago Suffolk embarked on their Smarter Suffolk Live Labs following submission of the bid and facing a daunting Dragon’s Den pitch to outline the proposed trials.

    It was always the intention that the trials would be research based and sharing the data both nationally and internationally was a key point, supported by key partners from academia and business.

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog - TfWM’s Live Lab experience

    Transport for West Midland's Jenny Corbett provides the final overview from their Live Lab programme

    The Live Labs funding has given us a much greater understanding of our travelling public in the West Midlands region and how we can influence their behaviour. 

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog – Central Bedfordshire's final wrap up

    Central Bedfordshire's Jack Bowers provides his view of the Live Labs experience.

    Central Bedfordshire Council’s ADEPT Live Labs journey has nearly come to an end and it’s been a fantastic trial to take part in. 

    As a council, we are working incredibly hard on reducing our carbon footprint and it seems a long time ago now that colleagues took part in the ‘Dragon’s Den’ round as we set out our aim of trialling renewable energy. 

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog: a final view from Cumbria

    Cumbria's Matt Waning provides the final round up from the plastic roads Live Lab

    Embedding innovation into routine and planned maintenance can be problematic and this is sometimes used as an argument to restrict initiatives. Cumbria County Council (CCC), however, recognise that innovation is vital for the development of asset management solutions that meet stakeholder demand and deliver the service within an agreed budget. 

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  • Live Labs Blog: Kent's final round up

    In the first of our Live Labs final blogs, Carol Valentine sums up Kent’s many successes.

    Over the last two years, our Kent County Council (KCC) and Amey project team has achieved many great outcomes with our various workstreams. We initially identified 50 possible innovations, which were broken down into ten workstreams, categorised by the type of innovation and business need.

    Read more >

  • Live Labs Blog: A Graduate Perspective

    The Live Labs graduate team are the unsung heroes of the programme. Coming from the Commissioning Board partners, they have provided a huge amount of support across innovation, communications and programme management. Katie Metcalf, who has been part of Live Labs since August 2021, explains what involvement in Live Labs has meant for her and some of the other graduates.

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  • Live Labs Blog: the final programme review

    After three years, the Live Labs Programme has published its final evaluation. Undertaken for Live Labs by Proving Services, the independent review covers everything the programme and each individual Live Lab has faced - both challenges and successes. Proving's Karen Farquharson takes us through...

    Read more >

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