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Live Labs 2 blog - spirit of communications in Live Labs 2

In March 2023, the communications leads for Live Labs 2 came together for the first time in an online communications workshop. Two of the presenters were Carol Valentine, Business Technology and Innovation Manager, Highways and Transport, at Kent County Council and Jason Pavey, Managing Director Operations and Business Development, at Atkins. Both are Commissioning Board members with specific responsibility for communications.

In this month’s blog, Carol and Jason talk about their role on the board and how the spirit of communications is embedded in the ambitions for Live Labs 2.

Carol Valentine, Business Technology and Innovation Manager, Highways and Transport, at Kent County Council

Carol has first-hand experience of running a Live Lab – she was the project lead for Kent County Council in Live Labs 1, using communications at key points in the programme to share learnings:

“Live Labs 1 was a very unique programme to be part of and I am excited to be able to bring that experience to the Commissioning Board in Live Labs 2. There was a lot we got right in how we managed the communications, but there was also things we could have done differently. I have already had the opportunity to share those thoughts with the current cohort of communications leads at the recent workshop.

“For example, we learned very quickly in Live Labs 1 that communications wasn’t just an add-on or something to be done at the end, but needed to be woven into every stage the programme. This time round we are putting it up front at the very beginning. Communication leads for each Live Lab will be an integral part of the project team, identifying and maximising opportunities for engagement, and collaborating with partner organisations and other Live Labs to make that happen.

“One of our key ambitions for Live Labs 2 is to extend the reach into industries beyond the highway sector, utilising the wide range of partners involved to cross boundaries. We know that in order to decarbonise local roads we need to do things differently and that is what the programme is testing on the ground. However, talking about the innovations and what we have learned – both what has worked and what hasn’t – through the media, social media, blogs, video, newsletters, conferences, webinars, networking events…the list goes on, is ultimately how we can effect behavioural change in how we do business going forwards.

“For me, what pulls all this together is creating opportunities to collaborate wherever we can, on both the projects and the communications, ensuring this spirit is embedded across everything we do.”

Jason Pavey, Managing Director Operations and Business Development, at Atkins

Jason has been involved in the Live Labs programme over a number of years, including with Atkins as a project partner in Live Labs 1:

“I have been a keen supporter of Live Labs since the beginning and have been there every step of the way in its development. It’s not just the programme that has evolved for Live Labs 2 but the Commissioning Board has too. We realised that as well as providing independent scrutiny, we could also be more integral to the programme, taking on specific responsibilities – for Carol and me it’s communications – to not only provide support but also to challenge and offer an alternative perspective. You could also add us to the list of communications channels. We are an incredibly diverse set of people and collectively our network and our scope to influence is vast.

“Carol has already mentioned effecting behavioural change and our ambition to reach other industries. We want to find ways of communicating Live Labs 2 learnings that will help to better equip and inspire decision makers – whether in the public or private sectors – to act and do things differently. Through communications we want to break down the silos of perceived Intellectual Property and share industry best practice, to enable us to scale and deploy solutions that work and make a tangible difference across the wider highway sector. The key message here is about adopting and using ideas from others so as not to reinvent.

“Unusually, we’re not afraid of recognising and celebrating failure, because that demonstrates not only what we have learned but how we used that learning to try something different. This is such an important part of the Live Labs ethos. It’s all about creating a buzz, taking pride in our ideas and sharing them as widely as possible.

“The communications for Live Labs 2 has multiple layers, operating across the individual projects, the four interconnected themes and the overarching programme. This means that the breadth of who we can reach, amplified by our extensive partner network, is massive and together we can realise a significant collective impact on the sector and beyond in our ambition to decarbonise local roads in the UK.”

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