Successful £4.4m adaptive street lighting project celebrates first year


Suffolk celebrates a successful first year of its £4.4m Live Labs project – ‘A Smarter Suffolk’.

Part of the ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs Programme, a £22.9m project funded by the Department for Transport, Suffolk was one of nine local authorities to successfully bid for funding.

The main aim of Suffolk’s Live Lab is to use its existing street lighting infrastructure to provide a showcase of innovative technologies which bring efficiencies to Suffolk County Council now, and potentially other local authorities in future.

Benefits from these technologies are set to revolutionise the way services are delivered by local authorities through the collection of data from sensors placed on street lighting columns throughout the county. As well as working with the University of Suffolk and BT, Suffolk has spent the last year negotiating with potential providers of a wide range of such sensors so that the can be deployed in different environmental conditions - namely urban, rural and coastal locations.

Through the experiences of this project, and the data achieved, this will enable local authorities to monitor subjects such as weather, road surface temperatures, traffic volumes, as well as create on-street electric vehicle charging and support the deployment of 5G infrastructure by the mobile network operators.

So far, Suffolk has installed 43 sensors relating to six different sensor types, with plans to install hundreds more over the coming months including:

  • Cameras and radars to measure vehicle classifications and volumes
  • Road surface temperature
  • Air quality
  • Wind speed / direction
  • Gully monitoring

The study of this data is being undertaken primarily by the University of Suffolk using a combination of sensors deployed at BT's research and development facility at Adastral Park and out on the local highway network.

Sensors performing the same function will be analysed at the same location to ensure direct performance comparison, tracked over the duration of the project to ensure consistency of data over a sustained period of time.

The data being obtained is currently helping to provide a picture of road use to inform before and after information where COVID-19 related initiatives have been installed, for example through the implementation of cycle lanes. The original two-year timescale for A Smarter Suffolk was recently extended by six months to account for the impact of COVID-19, now allowing a greater period of time to analyse incoming data from the deployed sensors.

Councillor Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs, said:

“Our Live Labs project in Suffolk is going from strength to strength and I’m delighted with the progress made to date. Although seemingly complex, the placement of these sensors and the data we are receiving from them will help make council services run smoother and more efficiently now and in future.

“We have also been able to ramp up activity during the recent months and used the data we are receiving to help paint a local picture of highway use during lockdown.

“The Live Labs project and related funding has given us the opportunity to test innovative and pioneering technology in a live environment, meaning the data we receive can be put to good use, providing real and tangible benefits.”

Prof. John Davies, BT, said:

“We are excited to be working with Suffolk County Council and partners on this ground-breaking project. Combining the use of the council’s smart lighting infrastructure to house sensors with BT’s ability to aggregate and analyse that data to provide actionable insight, we believe we can develop a compelling demonstrator that could be replicated by local authorities across the UK.

“Test locations will range across Suffolk’s urban and rural environments, and will demonstrate how a local authority’s infrastructure can offer a wide range of capability and insight in transport, energy and health and social care applications.”

Live Labs Programme Director, Giles Perkins said:

“Despite the challenges we’ve all experienced over recent months it is fantastic to not only see technology being deployed in Suffolk, but solutions that are already helping the area recover from the effects of the pandemic, demonstrating the positive effects that targeted technology usage can have.”

ADEPT represents local authority, county, unitary and metropolitan Directors. The ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs programme is a two-year £22.9 million project funded by the Department for Transport and supported by project partners SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, O2, Ringway and WSP. Nine local authorities are working on projects to introduce digital innovation across SMART mobility, transport, highways, maintenance, data, energy and communications. Live Labs is part of ADEPT’s SMART Places programme to support the use of digital technology in place-based services.