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Essex, Herts Councils expand smart city pilot scheme

Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils have joined forces to run a number of pilots assessing the socioeconomic benefits of smart city technologies

Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils are collaborating to expand an existing wireless smart streetlighting project – run by Cambridge-based Telensa – to introduce more smart city services in a pilot scheme that will seek to assess the social and economic benefits of various smart city technologies.

Both councils were early adopters of Telensa’s low-power wide area network (LPWAN) streetlight controllers – which they claim have already paid for themselves and are continuing to save money by reducing electricity use and enabling more efficient maintenance – but are now seeking to harness their county-wide lighting networks to go further still.

Three sites in towns in the two counties are being assessed to participate in the two-month trials, which will begin later in March 2018.

The trials will explore street drain or gully monitoring, to predict potential flooding events arising from blocked drains and alert maintenance teams; highway wind monitoring, to predict dangerous driving conditions; traffic monitoring and analytics, to understand local traffic movements and improve the efficiency of the existing smart streetlights; waste bin monitoring, to improve the efficiency of rubbish collections; and air quality monitoring to enhance the broad picture provided by existing monitoring stations.

“I am extremely excited about the benefits this trial offers by using technology to deliver more for less for our residents,” said Ian Grundy, Essex County Council cabinet member for highways.

“We currently rely on inspections and residents reporting issues, like blocked gullies, to us across more than 5,000 miles of roads in Essex.

“The potential to monitor issues remotely will not only save taxpayers money, it will also improve our reaction times and allow us to fix issues before they become a problem.”

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Grundy’s counterpart at Hertfordshire County Council, executive member for highways Ralph Sangster, said: “Smart technology is becoming an essential tool in delivering a high-quality highways services and Safe Smart is an exciting opportunity to trial a modern technology which reinforces Hertfordshire County Council’s ongoing commitment to maintaining and improving roads for the benefit of all Hertfordshire residents.”

The councils said they hoped the project would bring more than just operational and efficiency benefits to siloed teams. By monitoring infrastructure more widely, they hope to build a massive dataset that will be used to spot overarching trends that impact across council departments, which could potentially help both organisations make better decisions and work together better.

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