Smart Streets

Lead Participant: In Touch Limited


In this project we will explore in detail the feasibility of connecting significant portions of the UKs highways assets to the Internet of Things – thus creating virtual representations of a very large number of key physical assets. The data will be provided by Carillion – one of the project subcontractors. Carillion have access to significant data relating to highways assets. This data is collected and updated either manually through inspection of assets or automatically via telemetry. For example, Carillion collect data on the gullies that they empty. This data is collected using a mobile data application that enables cleaning crews to automatically provide real-time data on the status of the gullies they are emptying. As a result it is possible to build up an accurate picture of gullies that get blocked regularly and hence need frequent cleaning and those that are typically clear and running when inspected and hence do not need such frequent maintenance. It is also possible to enhance this type of data collection with remote monitoring of water flows through the gullies using simple telemetry. Such remote monitoring is commonplace on more expensive highways assets such as traffic lights and matrix signs. There is a wide range of highways asset data that can be generated automatically and potentially used to update an asset’s virtual representation. For example, during the winter months gritting wagons are typically fitted with GPS tracking devices that also monitor the amount of salt the gritter is placing on the road. Live feeds from such vehicles could be used to infer the state of the highway itself and provide potentially life-saving information to travellers.
Within the context of the project we will use real data produced by Carillion. We will explore the usage of this data with real end-users in the form of various Council departments – especially those involved in highways maintenance, emergency planning (flooding) and travel information. Thus our study will be conducted in the context of a real council making use of real highways asset data collected both before and during the study by a real highways maintenance operative. We will also work with other stakeholders to explore how the real data feeds we have collected can be used in other business areas such as enhanced provision of travel information. To achieve this we will leverage links we have established through our work on the TSB funded OurTravel project that has looked at novel travel information data feeds.
The project consortium have considerable experience of working in a multidisciplinary environment and bring together expertise in the highways sector, software development, business processes, ethnographic studies and technology. To address the five key questions we propose to use a mix of three main investigative techniques. We will begin with a series of stakeholder workshops (led by InTouch and Carillion) that will explore in detail the convergence scenario with the producers, holders and potential users of data from our highways assets. These workshops will follow the successful format of innovation workshops that InTouch have used as part of the Faith project and that the University has extensive experience of running for clients such as health trusts, broadcasters and management consultancy companies.
The workshops will each produce reports that capture the key points discussed during the event. These reports will be circulated amongst participants and made available as part of our project output. The workshops will be followed up by a series of ethnographic visits (led by InTouch) in which trained ethnographers will study the work of the various stakeholders to understand organizational and people issues that may impact on the successful adoption of an Internet of Things based approach – focusing in particular on potential barriers to connecting highways assets to the Internet of Things. This ethnographic work will be complimented by research into the technical aspects of how to connect the data held about street assets to the Internet of Things (led by Lancaster University). Finally we will revisit our stakeholders with a series of focus groups or one-to-one meetings that enable us to sanity check our findings and solicit final feedback (led by InTouch). The collected report based on the workshops, ethnographic visits, technical investigation and focus groups will provide the project’s answers to each of the five questions.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

In Touch Limited, Morecombe £50,000 £ 50,000


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