One of the big projects of the last year has been running an innovation programme for Digital Catapult and four Local Authorities – Croydon, Suffolk, Sutton and Thurrock. The innovation programme was part of the Catapult’s excellent ThingsConnected programme – which aims to stimulate more UK interest in LPWAN, because we are woefully behind some of our European neighbours.
Each of the councils put forward a specific challenge, and the idea was to invite UK businesses to work with the councils to understand the challenges in more depth, and then propose solutions to the challenges using LPWAN technology – LoRaWAN, Nwave, Sigfox, etc. The winning ideas would then be implemented in the borough for a live trial.
The programme started around Easter time and we held a Showcase event at the fantastic Digital Catapult Centre in London in mid-October, for an audience of (mostly) other local authorities and their service providers. This is an opportunity for our 4 local authorities to present their initial findings from the trials to their peers, and for all the businesses involved in the programme to meet potential new clients, hear where they see IoT adding value, and hopefully book some follow up meetings.
The four challenges were:
Croydon – monitoring air pollution in and around construction sites. This is important to Croydon in particular because there is a huge redevelopment programme in central Croydon which will involve lots of construction and heavy machinery.
Suffolk – footfall counting in Felixstowe. Councils across the country are keen to know more about how people move around a town, and in Felixstowe the town centre is separated from the sea front and promenade by a steep hill. Currently the town centre doesn’t benefit as much from tourism and events on the sea front as the business owners would like, and the council is keen to get more data on the numbers of people and where they walk to help inform any action they may take.
Sutton – helping young people with learning difficulties travel independently and spontaneously around London. This is just one part of Sutton’s really impressive digital programme, and the most complex of all the challenges. The benefits are literally life changing – if young people are able to travel at the times they want, then their days open up with more usable hours and more opportunity to socialise, be active and enjoy life.
Thurrock – creating a smarter Household Waste and Recycling Centre (the smart rubbish tip). This challenge is all about providing usage data so the council can improve the service the HWRC provides, for example how long is the queue of cars, which are the busiest areas on the site, are tradespeople passing off commercial waste as domestic…
Planning the programme and ensuring that all of the different events run smoothly is a real team effort. In particular I was fortunate to have Krista as my right-hand person who managed a lot of competing needs and individuals brilliantly. She left the Catapult for a great new role before the showcase event but I think she would have been happy with the packed auditorium and smiling faces all round.
If you are interested in figuring out how the Internet of Things can help your organisation, please get in touch.