Success as Hackathon reveals innovative data to shape a Smarter Suffolk

Students and trainers from the Independent Travel Training Service commissioned by Suffolk County Council. The students were presented with their travel certificate by Chairman of the Council, Cllr Graham Newman.

‘A Smarter Suffolk’ is part of the £22.9m ADEPT Places Live Labs Programme funded by the Department of Transport

Students from across the county joined forces at University of Suffolk to explore and develop the science and data emerging from Suffolk County Council’s Live Labs: A Smarter Suffolk project.

The Smarter Suffolk Hackathon is a ground-breaking collaboration between University of Suffolk students and staff, Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Highways, and BT.

This event gave a rare opportunity for students to compete and crack down on real-time data which has emerged from the Live Labs: A Smarter Suffolk project, which focusses on data surrounding air quality, winter gritting, traffic flows, gully data, and street lighting.

The Hackathon was designed to work on some of the key challenges faced by Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Highways and their ambition to transform local authority services. Participants had the full day to work at their pace with data and problems; with access to Suffolk County Council, BT, and University of Suffolk for any queries that may arise.

Focused on generating tangible outputs and practical solutions, participants’ insights will unlock new ways of thinking and new visions on Suffolk County Council’s data. The event will contribute to Suffolk County Council’s innovation strategy.  

The day begun with presentations and challenges from Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Highways, BT and University of Suffolk technical experts. Participants were then encouraged to explore datasets from BT’s cutting edge project-specific Smarter Suffolk Data Exchange. Throughout the day participants presented their ideas and discoveries to a panel of experts, where was provided along with a certificate of participation after the event.

Councillor Paul West, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Ipswich, Highways and Flooding, said:

“Suffolk County Council is known for leading in innovative technology and the data coming from the ‘Live Labs: A Smarter Suffolk’ project is just the latest demonstration of this. This project will not only have huge benefits for our residents, but it also gives the county something to be really proud of, as successes from the trial will have the potential to be rolled out across the country.

“It has been fantastic to see the project continue its successes with this Hackathon event, with students working together to bring this newly gathered data to life.”

Professor Nicholas Caldwell, Associate Dean for Business Engagement for the School of Engineering, Arts, Science and Technology at the University of Suffolk, said:

“We are very grateful to Suffolk County Council and BT for organising this Hackathon under the auspices of the Smarter Suffolk project. At the University of Suffolk, we believe that all our students should have opportunities to gain real-world experience so that they are business-ready as well as technically expert.

“This Hackathon has challenged our students to test their data engineering mettle against rich datasets and seek answers to questions of importance to the county and the region more widely. Our students will take their new insights forward into their ongoing studies and beyond.”

Dr Hannah Steventon, Research Associate for Live Labs: A Smarter Suffolk, said:

“I’m delighted that we can share the project data, highways’ challenges and BT’s Data Exchange from the Smarter Suffolk project with our students, who have been working alongside domain leaders and industry experts to explore and address real life decision-making.

“This Hackathon has been an exciting collaboration with Suffolk County Council and BT, and project partners from across the country.”

John Davies, BT’s Head of Future Smart Business Research, said:

“We’re excited to be involved in The Smarter Suffolk Hackathon and to be able to enable students from across the country to collaborate to build innovative applications using real data.

“BT’s work on the Smarter Suffolk project focuses on addressing key challenges and finding innovative solutions for local authority services. It’s a great opportunity to enable future technologists to consider real world issues and how they would tackle them with brilliant ideas.”

Giles Perkins, Live Labs Programme Director, said:

“It’s really exciting to see those – and particularly younger people – who are immersed and expert in data techniques being involved in Live Labs through this Hackathon. It’s clear that in our ever-connected world we are going to need more data specialists, and this event illustrates the potential within the local highways sector for data led techniques to tackle some of the ‘wicked problems’ we face.”

ADEPT represents ‘Directors of Place’ from county, unitary and metropolitan authorities across England. The ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs programme is 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, O2, Ringway and WSP. Nine local authorities are working on eight 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 innovative and digital technology in place-based services.

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