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Thames Valley Berkshire Smart City Cluster Project

The Smart City Cluster project is a two year £1.73m Internet of Things (IoT) project which is being funded through a Local Growth Fund capital grant from Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership. The project, led by Reading Borough Council on behalf of the Berkshire Unitary authorities of Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell and West Berkshire, will demonstrate how technology solutions can meet real-world challenges in delivering public sector services.

Specifically, the project will:

  • deliver an IoT communications system across the urban areas in the region with good coverage into rural areas, this is based on LoRa a Low Powered Wide Area Network (LPWAN). The communication system is ideal for the development and deployment of low cost IoT sensors and has a long range and good coverage in urban areas
  • define the real-world challenges that we want smart city solutions to be developed to address. The project has run a series of workshops for the local authorities to define the challenges and these were around areas such as transport, energy, assisted living and the environment

Since July 2018 the first round of challenge call winners have been developing their projects with support from their championing local authority:

West Berkshire Council Challenge One

Falls Prevention System aims to help the over 65’s keep their independence, freedom and control for longer, by using non-intrusive technology to help prevent falls in the home.  In over 20 homes in West Berkshire Thingitude, in consortium with IoT Stars and Tendertec have installed the following:

  • Wall-mounted sensors to actively monitor a resident’s mobility, balance and activity level
  • Automatic, floor-level lighting that helps residents get to and from the bathroom safely at night
  • Well-being sensors that monitor heating levels, social interactions and potential dehydration or UTI

Bracknell Forest Council Challenge One

InDependAbility is an initiative to enable greater use of public transport by vulnerable members of the local community in Bracknell Forest. There are a number of local dedicated transport services but these usually require advance booking and can incur significant costs to Bracknell Forest Council, local charities and the user.

Developed by Ethos VO, this project offers an IoT solution to relieve pressure on these services by encouraging greater use of the local scheduled buses. This will be done by providing vulnerable individuals with live availability of buses together with an assessment of how busy they are and whether wheelchair spaces are occupied.

Non intrusive sensors anonymously detect passenger numbers on and off buses giving a live measure of availability. This occupancy is displayed on simple screens at users’ homes and in selected public locations. The pilot focuses on 3 bus routes of Courtney Buses, with the possibility to extend it to the wider Bracknell bus network later in 2020.

Hardware, data connections and portable information displays have been successfully tested offsite with full on bus install now fixed for late Feb / early March 2020. Following user testing with a representative cohort from the local community, we expect to offer a wide range of commercially beneficial data for the local bus provider; enable the council to make better informed decisions on which routes should be supported by council funds; as well as giving vulnerable users the confidence to use the public bus network rather than relying on ad-hoc and expensive transport services. 

Wokingham Borough Council Challenge One

The Joy solution supports the identification and capturing of individuals that are lonely and socially isolated and through Joy matches them to suitable local services, activities and their community to improve their health and wellbeing.  The technology captures data around wellbeing information, the quality and feedback about the services utilised and outcomes achieved.  It is seen as great way to get people to access local activities easily through technology and also to learn more about what’s on in their local area. It can be used by the individuals themselves, their families and statutory services including social prescribers to link individuals to activities.

Reading Borough Council Challenge One

The solution consists of a suite of environmental sensors, IoT data collection and storage platform, and intelligent algorithms for detecting issues with heating and fuel poverty

Since November 2018 the second and final round of challenge call winners have been developing their projects:

Open Challenge Two

MyWay is a mobile phone map app that helps women university students walk home safely at night, both from university campus and Reading town centre.  A network of sensors will monitor lighting levels, people movement and noise level. Noise will be analysed to distinguish between happy sounds and alarming sounds.

The app has been co-designed and tested with a small group of women students from the outset.

Wokingham Borough Council Challenge Two

Creating a new app to promote cultural events and activities across the Borough, utilising all existing content as well as introducing new features to drive future engagement.  The solution will use market segmentation to tailor content to different users and target audiences.

Reading Borough Council Challenge Two

The Measurable.Energy (ME) Platform is a commercial sector energy control and analytics system for Small Power (SP): electricity used by building occupants via power sockets and large building devices that  accounts for ~40% of total building energy. The ME Platform, featuring ME ‘Smart’ Power Sockets, automatically eliminates wasted SP energy, reducing power, cost, and emissions.

 

West Berkshire Council Challenge Two

Through chatbots, voice assistants and data analytics the project will answer FAQs around the clock. Including, self serve issue recording, ordering new things like recycle bags, reporting street lights, pot holes and other issues.

 

Bracknell Forest Council Challenge Two

The Eco Rewards Scheme is a trial incentive scheme for schools in Bracknell Forest to encourage staff, students and their families to choose greener options when travelling to reduce their carbon footprint, pollution and local congestion. Participants will record their journey choices by tapping branded smart tokens on special readers placed along specific routes to participating schools and via online forms. The card readers send data over the private Internet of Things network provided through the Smart City Cluster project for analysis and to show CO2 savings. Participants will be rewarded with points and could receive prizes, cash-back and retailer discounts.

 

The Smart City Cluster project will be drawing to a close during Summer 2020 after which time we will be hosting a Showcase Event and publishing the outcomes and lessons learnt of each of the above projects.