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: Decarbonisation - the fourth White Paper

8 October 2021

On the publication of the programme’s fourth white paper, Decarbonisation, Live Labs Programme Director, Giles Perkins, describes the varied approaches to decarbonisation taken by different Labs.

Reducing our human-generated COemissions through rethinking how we produce and consume energy is vital in avoiding climate catastrophe and building a green future. The Live Labs programme supports local government’s drive to develop sustainable, clean, well-connected communities through innovation, with decarbonisation as a motivating factor. ‘Decarbonisation’ explores the variety of ways in which our eight Live Labs take an innovative approach with a focus on local needs.

Developed through a series of one-to-one discussions with each of the local authority, the White Paper shows how each of our eight Live Labs have approached the challenge of decarbonisation differently. These solutions fall into one of five categories:

  • Sustainable materials – some Live Labs have been testing the use of alternative materials, such as plastic additives in roads in Cumbria and fibre-reinforced polymers in lamppost columns in Buckinghamshire. Both trials are assessing these materials’ potential to reduce our industry’s carbon footprint, extend the lifecycle of our assets, and increase recyclability.

  • Environmental monitoring – the Suffolk, Thames Valley, and Buckinghamshire Live Labs have each built their own portfolio of environmental data through the use of different sensors, to identify immediate environmental conditions and long-term trends. This can then be used to optimise transport planning and inform environmental policymakers.

  • Energy – the use of renewable energy sources, contributing to the phasing out of unsustainable fossil fuels. The innovations on display include road-integrated geothermal heating and solar panels at Central Bedfordshire’s Thorn Turn depot, wind turbines and solar panels installed on lampposts across Buckinghamshire’s street lighting network, and a UK-first ‘kinetic walkway’ that generate energy from footsteps at Leighton Buzzard train station.

  • Digitalisation and Communication – data driven solutions which draw upon a variety of datasets, platforms, and communicative tools. Sensor data and open data approaches that rely on collaboration with external data sources together contribute to better asset management, such as that demonstrated by the Kent Live Lab’s Highways Asset Management Technology Incubator initiative. Furthermore, the use of video analytics by the West Midlands Network Resilience Live Lab seeks to understand travel behaviour and consequently increase the capacity, safety, and efficiency of the local road network. Overall, digitally-led approaches can result in an incremental decarbonising effect across every aspect of our industry’s operations.

  • Mobility – encouraging a shift to ‘active travel’ by introducing networks of alternative transport options, such as e-bikes and e-scooters, have been trialled by the Buckinghamshire and Staffordshire Live Labs. This also includes supporting the growth of larger electric vehicles through easy access to vehicle chargers. Creating sustainable ‘transport hubs’ presents an opportunity to reduce congestion and emissions, improve air quality, restrict vehicle maintenance costs, and promote active travel between urban centres and isolated rural communities where private vehicles still dominate the roads.

Although each Live Lab project has been planned and implemented with local needs in mind, the aim of every trial is to test out innovations and technologies that can be transferable to other local authorities up and down the country. The learnings, outcomes and conclusions from each can help to set and achieve environmental objectives at national and local levels. And with the recent publication of the Decarbonisation of Transport Strategy, this White Paper is an important contribution.

Live Labs, fourth White Paper, Decarbonisation is available here.


More posts

  • 22 September 2021

    Live Labs Blog: Power Road Installation

    Jack Bowers, from Central Bedfordshire Council Live Lab, takes us through the Power Road Installation

    As temperatures begin to drop, nights draw in and with friendly reminders on the news that we are less than 100 days away from Christmas, it’s the time of year where local authorities begin planning for their winter maintenance season.

    Read more >

  • 6 September 2021

    Atkins - supporting digital evolution

    Our latest blog is another Commissioning Board perspective, this time from Atkins’ Jason Pavey.

    I’m thrilled that Atkins has been a Corporate Sponsor of ADEPT for several years, and I’ve been lucky to have been involved in the SMART Places Live Labs programme since its inception. In my mind, bringing the public and private sectors together has created an opportunity to collaborate and drive more innovation than each party would have achieved on its own. Live Labs is the perfect example of that synergy and is something that has been close to my heart. 

    Read more >

  • 23 August 2021

    Cumbria Live Lab - trials with Shell a first for Europe

    Matt Waning, project lead for the Cumbria Live Lab, talks about their new partnership with international energy company, Shell.

    Cumbria’s Live Lab is investigating the sustainability and suitability of using additives derived from waste plastics as part of our highways surfacing programme. We are aiming to reduce our carbon footprint and provide a more resilient road network. The trials carry out real world tests using new highways technology and methods on local roads, which could revolutionise the highways and waste industry.

    Read more >

  • 21 July 2021

    Live Labs Blog: Kent takes flight!

    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.

    Read more >

  • 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.

    Read more >

  • 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.

    Read more >

  • 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.

    Read more >

  • 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.

    Read more >