Kent County Council reflects on ADEPT Live Labs successes

13 July 2022
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Kent County Council (KCC) and Amey have been reflecting on the successes of the Department for Transport funded ADEPT Live Labs programme as many of the projects draw to a close and a number of the trials adopted into business as usual and shared across the sector

The £22.9m Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) SMART Places Live Labs programme launched over two years ago, providing local authorities the opportunity to trial new and innovative solutions to address challenges across the road network.

At the start of the project, KCC and Amey identified over 50 possible innovations that could be trialled on the county’s road. The ideas were categorised by innovation type and broken down into ten workstreams.

Over the course of the past two years, KCC and Amey have been trialling various innovations: from drainage schemes to drones, pothole sensors, to traffic monitoring cameras.

Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, David Brazier, said: “Since the Live Labs programme launched two years ago, this funding has presented us with a great opportunity to trial new ways of alleviating road and transport issues.

“From using drones to find potholes to ensuring precision coverage for our winter gritters with cutting edge technology – the work we have done has provided a springboard for innovation across the department and will result in longer term savings for Kent council taxpayers.”

The use of pothole detection devices placed on the windscreens of highway’s inspectors is currently being validated to evaluate the feasibility of rolling this into business as usual. The devices track potholes and road defects whilst inspectors are driving around the county on other jobs. The data from these devices is then fed back into a Route Reporting dashboard to enhance data evaluation.

To improve road designs and scheme work, the team successfully trialled traffic monitoring cameras at eight locations across the county. Using 32 cameras, the team has captured data that can help to share future road planning by evaluating the types of vehicles used on the network, vehicle movement and any near miss collisions. These devices are being used daily across Kent.

Sunita Dulai, Head of Business Improvement at Amey, said: “Working in collaboration with Kent County Council over the past two years on the Live Labs programme has given us the opportunity to trial a number of unique innovations to digitally transform the services we deliver and further enhance the work we’re undertaking as part of our maintenance contract.

“It’s rewarding for all to see that a number of the projects have resulted in either longer term trials or adopted as business as usual in Kent and across our Highways contracts – a great success for Kent and the teams who keen to continue to work together to introduce new and innovative solutions that focus on safety, carbon reduction and maintenance schedules to enhance the network for local communities.”

Giles Perkins, Live Labs Programme Director said: “Kent have illustrated how adopting an agile approach to innovation can have a transformative effect on the way in which Local Highway Authorities embrace new technologies, solutions, systems and processes enabling new business as usual, with huge benefits.”

Over the course of the Live Labs programme, the use of drone technology has also been at the forefront. During the two years, the teams have completed two phases of trials. Phase 1 focused on pothole and road degradation in a car park in our Kent show ground. Phase 2 was carried out over a live carriageway and completed in 2021, and looked at road degradation, but also at canopy coverage and utility assets. To read more about the programme visit Live Labs Blog: Kent's final round up | ADEPT (

The ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs programme was a two-year £22.9 million project funded by the Department for Transport and supported by project partners SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, 02, Ringway and WSP.

Nine local authorities worked on projects to introduce digital innovation across SMART mobility, transport, highways, maintenance, data, energy and communications. Live Labs is part of ADEPT’s SMART Places programme to support the use of digital technology in place-based services.

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