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Milton Keynes to take data from smart cycle lights



City plans trial in collecting sensor data from Connected Cities award winning company

Milton Keynes Council is preparing to run a trial on the use of data from sensors on connected cycle lights, aimed at providing a better understanding of the cycling infrastructure around the city.

It is making plans with Northern Ireland technology company See.Sense to collect and process a number of variables that can be collected by the firm’s ICON intelligent light, including road surfaces, light levels, temperature and the behaviour of cyclists on the road.

This follows the company picking up the overall prize in the Connected Cities competition, organised by BT Infinity Lab and supported by the Cabinet Office, for ideas from SMEs to support smart cities.

Irene McAleese, co-founder of See.Sense, told UKAuthority that the trial with Milton Keynes is due to begin this month, following a series of small scale beta trials in Northern Ireland. The council is supplying the lights to cyclists, and although the number signed up to take part is being kept confidential, she said it is sufficient to make the trial a valid exercise.

The sensors in the light collect data which the cyclist transfers to a smartphone app via Bluetooth, and is then automatically uploaded to a cloud data store managed by See.Sense. The council can then access the data to establish what it can learn about cyclists’ behaviour and how it relates to roads around the city.

Potential benefits

Possible uses include identifying ‘hot spot’ areas where there are more crashes and near misses, highlighting the priority areas for investment in the cycling infrastructure, and identifying potholes before they are fully formed.

Co-found Phil McAleese said: “It’s an ongoing trial. As we collect and analyse the data, we feed it back to Milton Keynes and they can revise the requirement. There is a long list of things that they would like to do.”

 Irene McAleese said the council will also be able to link the data to its MK Data Hub.

“Once our data goes to the Milton Keynes hub they can look at it in the context of all the other data they collect as a smart city,” she said. “It makes for a really useful way of combining different pieces of data to build a rich view of the city and extrapolate different pieces of data.

“Our data can be part of its ecosystem of data.”

The incentive for the cyclists to take part is in other features they can obtain from the app, such as the ability to send an SMS message to a named person if they have an accident, and a function for planning low risk routes. They can also opt out of the providing the data if they wish.

McAleese added that See.Sense and BT are talking to other local authorities about running similar trials.

Other winners

There were two other category winners in the awards, one of which was Sitekit from the Isle of Skye. It won the Connected Society award for its eRedbook, a digital version of the book which parents of new-born babies receive to record and manage their health.

The Internet of Things award went to London based Vivacity Labs for intelligent cameras that can work with reactive traffic lights. It contains sensors that can quantify the movement of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians in real time.

Picture from See.Sense

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