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: Kent takes flight!

21 July 2021

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.

During phase one of the trial, which we carried out in 2020 in a car park at the Kent Showground in Detling, the aim was to get a better understanding of our roads and assets, looking at potholes, surface degradation, trees and streetlighting. We carried out three flights over a period of seven months to monitor how a surface deteriorated over time, and to spot new defects. From the trial we have successfully managed to identify surface types, detect cracks, and monitor their measurements; and detect and monitor potholes. We visualised these findings using heatmaps and polygons.

Phase two of the trials are taking place along a stretch of the A20 near Lenham. Three flights will run from April to November 2021. The footage we capture from the drones will be used to better understand the health and ecosystem of the soft landscape, highways assets, and the condition of the power and water infrastructure assets in the area. This will enable us and the utility asset owners to manage assets better and help with the planning of maintenance. 

Drone platforms carrying high resolution imaging sensors will collect data to be processed into digital replicas – this means that the captured data will be overlayed across images of the surveyed network. This then enables analysis to be undertaken to identify actionable insights, supporting teams on the ground better respond to asset maintenance needs. By undertaking regular repeatable flights, change can be observed, and critical changes identified, helping to schedule smarter remedial works on the infrastructure network.

The trial will examine how effective the technology can be when used for capturing wildlife habitats, understanding any future repair works regarding utilities infrastructure whilst still using it for highway inspections. Potentially, this will further prove the case for it to be used more widely in the future.

The first flight of this trial took place in May. Luckily the weather held off and we managed to complete the necessary flights to then be able to analyse the data – this is currently taking place. Our next flight is scheduled for mid-July (weather dependant), so we look forward to updating you all as the flights take place and we receive the data! 

More posts

  • 6 July 2021

    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.

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  • 8 June 2021

    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.

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  • 24 May 2021

    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.

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  • 13 May 2021

    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.

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  • 7 April 2021

    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.

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  • 21 March 2021

    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.

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  • 12 March 2021

    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.

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