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UK councils team to pilot smart city services

Both councils were early adopters of Telensa wireless streetlight controls and are now extending their use

The councils want to harness the power of their county-wide lighting networks
The councils want to harness the power of their county-wide lighting networks

Essex County Council and Hertfordshire County Council today are collaborating to pilot new smart city services using their county-wide lighting networks.


The project, a partnership with Cambridge-based technology firm Telensa, will assess the potential quality-of-life and economic benefits of a range of smart city technologies.


Both councils were early adopters of Telensa’s wireless streetlight controls, which pay for themselves and save money every year, by reducing energy consumption and enabling a more efficient maintenance operation.


By harnessing their lighting networks, the councils aim to introduce new smart city monitoring services at a fraction of the cost.


The councils are currently assessing the suitability of three sites in Hertfordshire and Essex towns. The pilot is due to commence in March and will run initially for two months.


The smart city solutions in the project include:


Gully monitoring: blocked street drains (gullies) cause flooding, and monitors can alert and even predict problems before they cause a flood;


Highway wind monitoring: instantly alerts the highways team of high winds or gusts, and builds a data set that helps to predict dangerous local driving conditions;


Traffic monitoring and analytics: from dimming unnecessary streetlighting on empty roads to understanding local traffic patterns;


Waste bin monitoring: enables cleaner streets through more responsive collections, and helps make sure there is enough capacity where it is needed;


Air quality monitoring: provides street-by-street measurement of air quality to complement the broad picture provided by existing monitoring stations;


The councils report it is not just about the operational benefits. Infrastructure monitoring builds up a vast data set that can be used to spot trends across departments, leading to better decision-making and more joined-up working.


“We currently rely on inspections and residents reporting issues, like blocked gullies, to us across more than 5,000 miles of roads in Essex,” said councillor Ian Grundy, Essex County Council cabinet member for highways.


“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.”


Hertfordshire County Council has already converted around 65,000 of our street slights to LED and is in the process of converting the remainder, some 50,000, by March 2020.


These LED lights are controlled by a wireless central management system (CMS), which detects faulty lights and enables changes to be made to light settings with the flick of a switch at a central point.


As a result, many faults will be resolved before anyone notices. LEDs not only use much less energy but also emit less CO2 than conventional lamps, helping to cut the county council’s carbon tax contribution.”


“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 maintain and improve roads for the benefit of all Hertfordshire residents,” added Ralph Sangster, executive member for highways at Hertfordshire County Council.


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