Councils partner with Telensa on smart city programmes

Councils partner with Telensa on smart city programmes

The UK County Councils of Essex and Hertfordshire have today announced a partnership with technology company Telensa to pilot a range of smart city services.

Local councils are being forced to tighten their belts and cut costs while protecting vital services. But as the saying goes, necessity breeds innovation, so it’s little surprise that Essex and Hertfordshire are looking at how the IoT can deliver efficiencies and economic benefits as part of a smart city pilot scheme.

Read more: Renfrewshire Council gets to grips with fuel poverty in IoT pilot

Investing in practical innovation

In partnership with Cambridge-based Telensa, both councils will use the scheme to assess a range of smart city technologies.

Essex and Hertfordshire have worked with Telensa before; both were early adopters of the company’s wireless streetlight controls – a smart solution that has already paid for itself in energy consumption and maintenance savings.

Read more: Poles apart: Five cities putting smart streetlights to new uses

That same lighting infrastructure will provide the foundation for the next generation of smart city monitoring services, which include plans to monitor drains, highways, traffic, air quality, and waste bins.

Although the locations for these sensors will vary, the aim tends to be the same on a network-wide basis: to help authorities respond to dynamic situations with more speed and, in some cases, predict events before they occur.

Staying one step ahead of issues is a far more cost-effective way of running public services than being reactive. Gully monitoring, for example, will alert the councils before blocked drains cause flooding.

Read more: AT&T launches structure monitoring product for smart city bridges

A smart city is a green city

Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils’ smart city initiative also promises to have a positive environmental impact.

Traffic monitoring and analytics will inform the dimming of unnecessary streetlighting on empty roads. Waste bin monitoring will enable more responsive collections and cleaner streets. Air quality sensors will offer a street-by-street indicator of localised pollution.

Ralph Sangster, executive member for highways at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “This 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.

“We have already converted around 65,000 of our street lights to LED and are in the process of converting the remainder, some 50,000, by March 2020. These LED lights are controlled by a wireless Central Management System, which detects faulty lights and enables changes to be made to light settings with the flick of a switch at a central point.

“Therefore 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.”

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

“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.”

Both councils are in the process of selecting three sites in Hertfordshire and Essex towns to adopt the new technologies. The pilot scheme will get started this month and run until May.

Internet of Business says

While some IoT and smart city initiatives demand the creation of new infrastructure, smart street lights can make use of millions of existing poles and help communities to be greener, smarter, more efficient, more cost effective, and sustainable.

As our recent report on smart street lights reveals, not only are such programmes being introduced throughout the world to help cut costs and predict infrastructure failures, for example, they can have other benefits too. One example is the city that is using smart lights to kill disease-carrying insects, while another is using them to minimise light pollution and preserve the beauty of the night sky.

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