The InnOvaTe Programme (IoT Place)
The InnOvaTe Programme has pioneered within the South London Partnership (SLP) the deployment of a IoT Place programme focused on addressing real world challenges. We have deployed 46 use cases, comprising 2900 sensors across a truly diverse urban areas. From the outset we have focused on the ethic's of deployments and maintained absolute transparency with the residents and boroughs within the 5 boroughs https://www.innovateproject.org/transparency-principles/ We have proven that low cost sensors can save lives, provide officers with data and insights that support informed decision making and address real world problems i.e. we have reduce fly tipping by 80% in monitored areas.
We have started out in every instance by saying 'what is the problem' and everything has then been driven off the back of this. Nothing has been technology lead and we have put people at the heart of our challenge statements. This approach has ensured residents remain engaged and there has been no risk of conflict with tech companies dictating to us.
Problem or opportunity
The problems we have endeavoured to tackle have been incredibly diverse but primarily covered, Residents (Welfare and Housing), Environment / Climate Agenda, Business and Baseline / Legal compliance.
Every Use Case that has progressed has come from a seed of an idea e.g. could we detect decline in our resident community without the need for a wearable item? Can we reduce the impact of flooding on communities from know hot spot problems? What is the Air Quality like outside X Primary School and can we implement a change and measure the improvement? etc etc
We are duly very proud of ensuring that people are at the heart of the outcomes to be achieved and that at all times ethical boundaries must be maintained. Where there has been a risk of ethical boundaries being crossed the Use Case did not proceed or was brought to a swift closure. The InnOvaTe Project has always been about delivering impact to residents and businesses - this people-focused approach has meant that the technology came second with the outcomes being the key driver for every implementation. This has been validated by one particular project having proven to have saved fives lives of vulnerable residents, who would have likely died without the intervention of the technology delivered as part of this project.
The creation of visualisations and dashboards has allowed officers to get access to data never before seen. By helping council services take responsibility for their data, they have been encouraged to use new insights for strategic decision making, while still ensuring data is collected and managed in both ethical and secure ways. As a result, there have been a number of instances where other local authorities have looked to the programme for help and guidance across a wide range of challenges including procurement, security, connectivity and agile delivery.
Through the building of key relationships with suppliers, large amounts of free 3rd party services, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, have been unlocked for the council's use - the building of enterprising partnerships with large companies has allowed the project to do much more than it originally set out to achieve. Additionally we have seen some very small organisations grow off the back of their initial win with ourselves as it then gave them the credibility to expand further. Two examples of this are one company expanding their workforce by 4 staff, and another that is now working across all of the UK including the Scottish Islands off the back of being able to prove its product in an urban high street environment.
The programme as a whole has exceeded expectations and has impressed not only council leadership but also larger organisations such as the GLA, LOTI, DCMS and even foreign metropolitan representatives internationally. Recently, the project team efforts have been recognised by a national award by winning the Connected Britain Smart Places Award 2022 which acknowledged the human lives saved as a result of one of the trials, but also the depth of use cases employed to tackle real-world problems.
The InnOvaTe project has considered over 155 different use cases (pilot ideas), and implemented 46, in less than 18 months. The average time from seed of an idea to implementation has been 2 months. Most of these trials have generated positive outcomes for residents, business and/or the council directly, which include:
- Alerts that led to the saving of 5 resident lives (vulnerable adults)
- Identification of vulnerable residents who are living in fuel poverty / not having hot meals or drinks - all of which has facilitated the ability for targeted interventions / discussions to help people live independently longer
- Significant reduction in fly-tipping c80% in monitored areas, with evidence obtained to support enforcement and improve long-term impact to a number of council housing estates
- Early warnings and weather forecasting used by officers to improve reaction times and deliver cost-savings to highways services in order to better manage flooding and drainage
- Monitoring of unused buildings which has helped curb anti-social behaviour across multiple social housing estates
- Traffic insights generated to directly support strategic transport decision-making regarding cycle lanes, one-way streets, public realm (crowd movement), pedestrianisation and unauthorised motorbike / moped / scooter use
- Visitor analytics to support funding for improving parks
- Real time parking usage data to improve road access and transport planning
- Understanding the scale of damp in properties and whether its within acceptable limits, or should urgent
- Using wildlife sensors to support the introduction of water voles in green areas
Perhaps the best summary of the programme is provided by Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer at GLA who provided the following words when asked about the IoT Programme: "Most advanced and broad-ranging set of IoT use cases I've seen. They should be really proud of what has been achieved here... it's truly excellent."
Part of the success of the programme, has been the building of key relationships with suppliers. This has resulted in both the programme paying for services + goods but also receiving large amounts of free 3rd party services once they say the real impact we were bringing to the sector. The building of these enterprising partnerships with small / medium and large companies has enabled the programme to deliver much more, across more services, without costing the organisation any additional cost. In addition, the project team has worked alongside smaller suppliers to help them develop their business - this has happened through active involvement in improving their products, but also offering to share experiences with their potential customers as reference sites which helped grow not only the SMEs involved, but also the technology as a whole. The suppliers the programme works with are as follows:
- IoT Solutions Group
- Breathe London
- Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
- Canary Care
In terms of the mix of technologies we have pioneered the use of battery sensors that have 3-5 year lives, Cloud computing, 4G/5G and NB-IoT connectivity. This has meant we can deploy in residents homes with no power connection, under ground in gullies and culverts and then using solar panels on lighting columns where appropriate to do so. In short we have always been focused on the problem and the depth of technology solutions means we have always found the right fit to the challenge.
In summary the programme has proven that IoT sensors really can help understanding the Places and Environment we all live in. Not all trials have been successful but the fact that c60% of our original trials have been converted into Business As Usual and funded by the internal Council Departments says a vast amount about the value of data.