Ian Thomas, Chief Executive of Kingston Council, talks about #InternetofThings and the role of technology in promoting a green agenda

29 March 2022

Ian Thomas, Chief Executive of Kingston Council, talks about #InternetofThings and the role of technology in promoting a green agenda

“I want to talk about…the role of technology in promoting a green agenda.

“At a round table this week, Sir Nigel Wilson – Member of the Levelling Up Advisory Council advised that 70% of jobs advertised contain the word ‘technology’. The current global crisis will be dependent on an increasingly data-driven, technological response.

“For our part, Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames prides itself on being a forward thinking borough, & this is evident in our Internet of Things (IoT) programme.

“Simply put, the IoT refers to the connection of devices to the Internet. The South London Partnership IoT project is a multi-purpose collaboration between boroughs of London Borough of Sutton, Kingston, Croydon Council, Richmond, & Merton. Funded through a £4m grant from London Councils, the initiative has highlighted the benefits of councils coming together, just as the pandemic has brought the need for this into sharper focus.

“We were one of the first boroughs in England to deploy a wide range of IoT sensors, aimed at addressing economic, climate-related or social issues. One of our key projects in Kingston is monitoring air quality around our schools. We asked ourselves, what is the air quality outside our primary schools & if we make a change to the timings & number of vehicles that pass these locations, can we show a noticeable difference?

We are using vivacity & air quality monitors to show that school streets make a meaningful difference in reducing vehicles & pollutants within the restricted areas. Vivacity monitors have been implemented before the start of the scheme, so that we can see this change in reduction of vehicles usage.

“The data has fed into wider community & council discussions regarding the next steps & it has helped support decision making & communications before & after changes are introduced. The data in one recent example showed a 66% reduction in vehicles passing the school during the before & after school intervention with air quality improved by 4%.

“But this is just the beginning. So far, we have over 400 sensors deployed across the borough with the number growing on a daily basis. Kingston has been very keen to see if the use of sensors can not only deliver on their original goals but also assist in providing better value for money to residents & the community, supporting our wider climate agenda objectives.

“16 months into a global pandemic, cross-borough collaboration is more important than ever. As resources continue to be severely stretched, it is the small innovative projects that have the potential to make the biggest difference to our communities.

“The IoT programme is one of the biggest in the country & is testing ways technology can make a practical & lasting difference to the lives of residents & help businesses to flourish.

“I very much look forward to seeing how we can use the information from these sensors to support decision making, create a cleaner, greener borough, & progress further on our IoT journey.”

About the InnOvaTe Project:

South London Partnership is working with London Councils to deliver an exciting and innovative “Internet of Things” (IoT) project across the five south London Councils of Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton.

This initiative is funded by the Strategic Investment Pot (SIP) as part of the London Councils Business Rates Retention scheme which is administered by the City of London Corporation, and hopes to improve people’s lives through the delivery of a multi-purpose Internet of Things (IoT) platform, which will connect various sensors across borough boundaries.

The project is led by Sutton Council, which was selected to oversee the project on behalf of the other boroughs.

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