By: Smart Oxford : 08 August 2017
Transportation and Smart Cities
Transport & mobility present a critical societal challenge For Oxford – a medieval city with an unplanned centre, air quality issues, about 50,000 commuters daily, and exacerbated by very high housing costs and areas of multiple deprivation.
We are addressing this in a range of ways: with innovative projects working with neighbourhoods on mobility and wellbeing; through the innovative use of big data, social media and other data sources; with our work to advance the introduction of autonomous vehicles (Oxford was the first place in the UK with a licenced driverless car on its roads); and with our integrated strategy for infrastructure.
We encompass this within our larger Infrastructure Strategy (Oxford is one of few regions in the UK developing such a combined strategy) covering key themes such as transport, education, health, emergency services, utilities, green infrastructure, waste and minerals, and flood defences, and we have already made significant progress in tackling such societal challenges.
Local organisations such as the MobOx Foundation (Mobility Oxford) and the Smart Oxford partnership are improving transportation in and around Oxford by the uptake of new technology solutions under real world conditions and supporting over 20 testbed projects.
New projects related to smart city, mobility, low emissions, the Internet of Things, open data, and everyday living are building on this work.
Initiated this year, Cities-4-People is a three year project looking at new approaches for community-driven mobility innovations at neighbourhood level. It aims to implement a pilot programme with a focus on Barton, Littlemore and Black Bird Leys (Eastern Arc) where citizens, city authorities and innovation experts will work together as ‘communities’ to define the transport and mobility challenges and priorities that interest them, co-design ideas and concepts, put these concepts to the real test with an aim to scaling up those that prove most valuable.
A Horizon 2020-funded initiative, the Cities 4 People project will include the development, testing and comparison of initial results of sustainable mobility solutions, looking at:
- innovative approaches to involve end-users, consumers and citizens to validate the needs of the neighbourhoods, to assess the potential impact of the solutions, and to better understand the needs and preferences of the end-users whose problems are meant to be solved in the project.
- technological and non-technological innovations such as: social innovation, co-creation, public sector innovation, and open innovation.
- new tools and approaches for measuring uptake, support, and impact of the innovative approaches so that results can be scaled up and disseminated to address common issues in neighbourhoods in other cities and towns across the UK and Europe.
A key concept in the project is ‘People-Oriented Transport and Mobility’ (POTM), which focusses on developing new ways to deliver sustainable solutions that address community needs. Using a blend of new digital & social technologies and with an inclusive ethos, it aims to create solutions that have a low ecological footprint, a sharing approach and the potential to effectively address real city and community problems.
Healthy Urban Mobility
Started in 2016, the Brazil-UK Healthy Urban Mobility (HUM) project is examining our societal challenges to health and mobility, through a comparative study of the city of Oxford, UK and the cities of Brasilia, Florianopolis and Porto Alegre by Oxford Brookes University’s School of the Built Environment and others. The study will look at how urban mobility is accessed, people’s experiences, and the meanings attributed to different ways of moving by different groups.
The investigation will use a mixed method approach:
- a participatory approach to involve the local community in identifying problems and solutions for healthy urban mobility and community wellbeing.
- in-depth biographic interviews to understand role of past experiences of mobility and the rationale behind selected modes of mobility – ‘mobile trajectories’
- a social survey to capture mobility and health and wellbeing profiles of selected communities
- micro-ethnographies through mobile interviews to capture contemporary everyday experience of being (im)mobile
- spatial mapping to understand the physical and built environment context in which mobility takes place
Through detailed fieldwork and data collection from the people who live in the selected neighbourhoods, the research aims to draw out the ways that mobility can affect health and wellbeing at an individual and collective level, particularly among low income and excluded groups.
People in Autonomous Vehicles in Urban Environments (PAVE)
An Oxford-centered consortium (PAVE) has this year received funding via the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and Innovate UK, to conduct a study to test the feasibility of Culham Science Centre as a test location for driverless vehicles.
This will involve:
- Researching public attitudes to driverless cars
- exploring the use of the Culham Science Park as an autonomous vehicle testbed;
- identifying smart infrastructure use cases to accelerate real world implementation
- Establishing secure foundations for the site as a national test facility
- Assessing opportunities to test intelligent mobility solutions
Culham Smart Community will be a living testbed for emerging digital, such as autonomous vehicles, and green technology along our knowledge spine.
DRIVEN – taking driverless to the next level
In a world’s first, an Oxford-led consortium including local SME Oxbotica, the University of Oxford’s Robotics Institute (ORI), Oxfordshire County Council, local SME Nominet, and RACE (UKAE) are part of a group taking autonomous vehicles to the next level, with an autonomous vehicle trial at a level of complexity and integration that has never been attempted anywhere before.
The DRIVEN project, funded by a £8.6 million grant awarded this year by Innovate UK, is an ambitious project that will see a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles being deployed in urban areas and on motorways, culminating in an end-to-end journey from London to Oxford.
These vehicles will be operating at Level 4 autonomy – meaning they have the capability of performing all safety-critical driving functions and monitoring roadway conditions for an entire trip, with zero-passenger occupancy.
This will help us understand the technical and social challenges connected with real-life use of autonomous vehicles within Oxford and between our city and others, further cementing the City’s reputation as a world leader in the development of autonomous vehicles by creating a fleet of driverless vehicles using UK-built software to be trialled between Oxford and London.
Building on other current ORI projects such as LUTZ and UK Autodrive, this 30-month project, which started earlier this year, will attempt to remove crucial barriers to real-world commercial deployment of driverless cars, with their powerful potential to help address our societal challenges related to mobility, transport affordability, low carbon targets, and poor air quality within the city.
In a UK first, Oxford’s Robotics Institute is also working this year, via its spin-out Oxbotica, to trial last-mile driverless deliveries.
Science Transit Strategy
Our Science Transit Strategy, updated in June 2016, aims to transform public transport through Oxford and along the county’s ‘knowledge spine’.
The Science Transit will be a fully integrated public transport system that connects the area’s centres of innovation and economic growth with the city’s two universities. The strategy has been developed to help shape the next-generation mobility and information system across all modes of travel.
It will link together Innovation Hubs, and connect them to locations of identified housing and economic growth across the city and wider region.
The strategy actively seeks to exploit, new and emerging technologies that improve the environmental efficiency and sustainability of conventional transport systems.
Active and Healthy Travel Strategy
Our Active and Healthy Travel Strategy has been developed by the County Council as experimental strategy drawing up input from a wide range of stakeholder including Public Health professional and Oxfordshire Cycling Network.
The strategy is a model which seeks to embed active and healthy travel into all transport initiatives. It aims to contribute to reducing pressure on the road network, contribute to economic growth and the reduction of emissions, quality of life and health, and link active travel with bus and rail options by enabling sustainable door to door journeys combining cycling or walking with public transport.
The city and county councils have also developed a Code of Conduct for dockless bike providers, with a number of companies providing such services in Oxford.
Unlike ‘Boris’ bikes, which have bike docking stations located around city centres, dockless systems use mobile phone apps to enable people to rent their bicycles.
Oxford City Council’s long-term vision – set out in the recently-published draft Vision 2050 – is to create safe and accessible cycling routes across the city to help tackle congestion and reduce air pollution.
In 2011, 17 per cent of commuters cycled to work in Oxford. The aim, through incremental changes over time, is to replicate the success of Oxford’s twinned city Leiden, where 70 per cent of people commute by bicycle.
This year 11 new signs branding Oxford “a cycling city” went up as additions to the existing “welcome to the city of Oxford” markers, believed to be the first UK city to install such signs.
Oxford is one of few regions in the UK developing a combined Infrastructure Strategy covering key themes such as transport, education, health, emergency services, utilities, green infrastructure, waste and minerals, and flood defences.
To better understand the scale of our societal challenges related to infrastructure, the Oxfordshire Growth Board commissioned AECOM to prepare an Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OXIS) for the county.
The strategy presents an overview of growth patterns to 2040, evidences the infrastructure required, and estimates likely costs and funding gaps.
Our City and County Councils are also working in conjunction with other stakeholders, to create an city environment that supports cycling, via initiatives such as installing public bike pumps across the city, and creating a code of conduct for dockless bike providers.
Cyclists and organisations with an interest in cycling were consulted on the code through the Oxford Cycling Forum. The forum was created by the City Council two years ago and includes cycling groups, both universities, the railway companies, cycle shops and local councillors.
Applying data science to local government
In September 2016, the City Council, Open Data Institute and the Oxford Internet Institute convened a joint workshop in Oxford, Data Science for Local Government.
The day long workshop aimed to help stimulate the introduction of data science into local government, through a series of talks from local government practitioners, academics and industry leaders working in the area of data science.
The workshop drew on the work of the Oxford Internet Institute’s Smart Cities group, and their projects:
- UrbanData2Decide, using public social media and open data libraries to support well-founded local government decision making, through a process which takes into account the views and perspectives of citizens and other relevant groups; and
- NEXUS, developing innovative techniques for estimating population levels and population movement through social media and other data (e.g., WiFi hot spot data) as well as pioneering new techniques for visualisation.
The workshop followed on from the creation and publication of a University of Oxford landscape document in which research groups set out their interest in a range of proposals for Oxford-based smart-city projects, and from the 2016 launch of OxOpenData, the Open Data platform for the city and county.This year has seen the inception of the Institute’s Data Science in Local Government project, which is applying academic rigour to understanding and explaining the spread of data science methods in the local government context and to understand their impact.
Mapping the City
Through our City Mapping project, our local authorities are leading the way in preparing for widespread deployment of the next generation of autonomous vehicles. Started this year, the project is a collaboration between Oxford’s Robotics Institute (ORI) and the City council. By attaching sensors to the city’s street cleaning vehicles, we are creating 3D maps that pave the way for the deployment of autonomous vehicles in Oxford.
Video: mapping Cornmarket, Oxford [playback: 2 x actual speed]
Additionally, in a groundbreaking application of the technology, the project is gathering data on street conditions, with the research team at the ORI exploring innovate ways that the data can help the City Council and its partners to better manage the city. The data being trialled as part of the project will include:
- road and pavement surface damage
- air quality
- people numbers and movement
- litter and fly-tipping
- parked vehicles
- broken streetlights and signs
- heat loss from buildings
As well as supporting the automation of inspection and reporting processes that were previously ad-hoc or manual, an added advantage is the ability of the system to identify with high precision (to the millimeter) the location of reported issues.
Data from the project will be made freely available to all across the city and beyond, through its publication on our recently-launched Open Data platform.
Democratising development in autonomous vehicle technology
With a mission to make autonomous vehicle technology more accessible to people, the Oxford-based startup, StreetDrone, is developing StreetDrone ONE, an autonomous vehicle (AV) platform designed to open up self-driving technology to educational institutions, as well as programmers and developers outside the traditional car industry. Based on the Twizy EV, part of the Renault POM programme, StreetDrone ONE will give developers the means to test driverless coding on a real-life test vehicle. Designed as a shared, open R&D platform, StreetDrone will provide the hardware and software to bring autonomous development to the masses.
StreetDrone will begin delivery of its self-drive ready platform in August 2017.
Collaborative Smart Parking
Announced in April, the Collaborative Smart Parking project (CASPAR) will help provide up to the minute information showing the occupancy of Blue Badge (parking permit for disabled) spaces, car parks and some city centre pay and display spaces, as well as any new electric vehicle charge points.
The project is the result of a successful Oxfordshire County Council bid for almost £240,000 of government funding and will use big data and smart technology to guide vehicles towards available parking, with the long term aim for information collected by the system to be pushed out to the next generation of connected vehicles.
Real-time traffic information
Oxford has also become the second city in the UK to receive real time traffic updates on mobile phones, after Oxfordshire County Council this year announced its new partnership with traffic app Waze, which aims to tackle congestion in the city.
The app provides real time traffic updates with live reports and feeds from drivers in the local area, in a bid to reduce the cost of congestion across Oxford by trying to make users move faster through the city.
Demand Responsive Transport
As part of a larger range of transport initiatives, the University of Oxford is carrying out a feasibility study on Demand Responsive Transport (DRT).
The Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) model offers an innovative alternative to conventional people movement, matching supply to demand using mobile technology in a similar manner to the taxi service, Uber.
By sharing a wider pool of vehicle types with taxi operators, it has the potential to correctly match vehicle size to observed demand in real-time with consequent potential savings on running costs and carbon emissions.
A Better City through Google Data
Through feedback provided by people moving in and around Oxford, we’re mapping the city’s mobility patterns to better understand and address the societal challenges related to transport and mobility in Oxford.
Since 2016 a consortium including our County Council, Oxford Brookes University and the University of Oxford has been working with Google to help find innovative ways to address transport issues for the City and county.
Utilising data collected by Google via android phones and mobile devices, the city partners are analysing mobility data for the city and county (the same data that marks congested areas in amber or red on Google maps).
Started in 2017, the Oxford Internet Institute’s TRANSNET project (Forecasting and Understanding Transport Network Resilience and Anomalies with Data Science) aims to use using data science to forecast and understand transport network resilience and anomalies in the city. This two-year project will make use of Google’s anonymised mobile phone trace data to understand more about the flow of traffic around our transport network.
The work is grounded in an ongoing partnership with Oxford County Council, and will make use of several stores of big data to which the Council has access.
These data sources enable the project to work at high spatial and temporal resolution and to overcome many of the problems associated with estimating traffic flows from lower-resolution/sparse data.
As a medieval city with a historic, unplanned centre, Oxford faces a number of infrastructure challenges as its 160,000 residents and nearly 50,000 inward commuters move around the city.
In the last few years Oxford has opened a new rail station (Oxford Parkway), engaged in one of the largest commercial redevelopment currently taking place in Europe (demolition and redevelopment of the Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford’s city centre at a cost of approximately £400m, producing retail space of over 74,000 sq. metres) and experienced multiple instances of severe flooding.
The historic transport data available will allow the city partners to examine many natural experiments where parts of the road infrastructure were closed either with advanced notice (events/fairs, road works) or suddenly without notice (traffic accidents, jams, and flooding).
The LUTZ project
Running till 2018, the LUTZ project is a collaboration between RDM, Oxford University and the Transport Systems Catapult, with Oxford’s Mobile Robotics Group supplying the technology to make the project vehicles autonomous – software and sensor systems – for the public test site north of Oxford, at Milton Keynes.
Addressing the wider societal challenges of how autonomous vehicles can work in public spaces, the project is paving the way for further work on vehicle autonomy, such as the DRIVEN and PAVE projects, which started this year, as well as the work taking place to develop a larger fleet of 40 pods as part of the UK Autodrive consortium.
In the UK Autodrive project, University of Oxford spin-out
Oxbotica is currently trialling its automated vehicle technology in locations such as Milton Keynes and Coventry, as part of a government-backed initiative to support the introduction of self-driving vehicles across the UK.
Oxbotica is a pivotal contributor to UK Autodrive and will develop the entire autonomous control systems and sensor sub-systems that enable real-world operation of driverless vehicles in urban and pedestrianised areas.
In turn, this will support the introduction of intelligent urban architecture to support a wide variety of applications driven by the underlying technology that bring benefit to the citizen, especially in an urban environment.
Health and Wellness
Healthy new town initiatives
Since 2016, the city’s local innovation community has been working with Bicester and the Oxford district of Barton, where we’re developing testbed demonstrator sites for healthy and connected living as part of the National Health Service’s Healthy New Towns programme.
The initiative will help shape the way our city develops, so as to test ideas for creative solutions to our societal challenges related to health and care in the 21st century, including obesity, dementia and community cohesion.
The programme is bringing together renowned clinicians, designers and technology experts to reimagine how healthcare can be delivered, to showcase what’s possible by joining up design of the built environment with modern health and care services, and to try out new models of technology-enabled primary care. In addition, local action group Good Food Oxford is exploring innovative approaches to addressing food poverty.
The projects include innovative work with both our Universities, and with the locally-based Satellite Applications Catapult to use satellite imagery to identify air quality issues at a street-by-street level.
The Catapult also carried out last year a feasibility study for the Health New Towns initiative,
to help the NHS define:
- How air quality mapping and monitoring can be used to help people manage their own wellbeing.
- How obesity and diabetes challenges can be tackled through changes to the built environment.
- How the health impact of different built environments can be measured and evaluated.
- The nature of school education programmes that can help underpin sustainable behaviour change.
- The role of competitive group initiatives in broader digital therapeutic strategies.
Community engagement is central to the Oxford-based project, both in shaping the types of activities and services that are delivered, but also in terms of getting the widest possible range of people involved and taking the opportunities to reduce health inequalities, by putting wellbeing at the heart of the community.
The project provides grants to the local community for the uptake of new ideas that can help develop and be part of new, inclusive models for community health and wellbeing.
Living Well Oxford
Initiated in 2016, Living Well Oxford is an innovative programme of collaborative public engagement between the Oxford Academic Health Science Network, Science Oxford and the Oxford Health Experiences Institute to address the need to do things differently. It aims to develop public space and events to build knowledge and understanding in our population and health staff and to feed the development and uptake of new ideas and approaches.
This work, focused in Oxford, is exploring the concept of ‘living well’, drawing on areas that have significant public health impact, public interest and local research expertise, such as weight, diet and health, and ageing and dementia.
So far it has worked with a number of partners to try out these innovative approaches:
- a debate about genome data privacy, funded by the British Science Association
- a stroke storytelling event at The Story Museum, part of Oxfordshire Science Festival
- a stroke-themed stall at a health day at Templars Square Shopping Centre
- a health-themed session at children’s summer holiday clubs in East Oxford and Rose Hill
- a â€œpop-up shop – entitled ‘Ageing: From Birth and Beyond’ – held in Templars Square Shopping Centre
Oxford University Hospital Trust – Global Digital Exemplar
In 2016 the UK’s Department of Health chose Oxford’s local Hospital Trust – Oxford University Hospitals – as a Global Digital Exemplar making available £10M in funding to drive initiatives to address our societal challenges in healthcare, aiming for radical improvement in the care of people in and around Oxford, and accelerating its progress from a national champion of the use of digital technology to a world leader.
The Trust is already acknowledged to be one of the most advanced in digital in the UK in its support of patients through its implementation of electronic patient records, and its recently introduced state-of-the-art digital imaging systems.
Oxford Health NHS Trust – Global Digital Exemplar
In early 2017 a second Oxford Trust was announced as a Global Digital Exemplar. Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust is to spearhead the development of digital technology to help address the societal challenge of mental healthcare, thanks to £5m funding. A pioneer of the uptake and innovative use of digital technologies and ideas in mental healthcare such as the True Colours self-management system, the trust also this year launched the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) in partnership with the University of Oxford.
The trusts form part of a rich digital health innovation ecosystem, with over 160 digital health SME companies forming a digital health innovation cluster the local region.
Its latest project is the SlowMo programme where people with psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia are being asked to try the app as part of an innovative programme of support developed with the University of Oxford, the first of its kind.
The study, involving 360 people, will help assess the value of a website and mobile app – which synchronise together – in supporting people to slow down their thoughts and thus reduce their distress.
The app was designed jointly by researchers, people who use the service, healthcare designers and clinicians. Initial feedback from users of the app has been very positive.
Opening access to our healthtec cluster
Along our knowledge spine our local innovators have been benefitting from the opening up of access to the Harwell HealthTec Cluster’s world-class R&D facilities.
We’re engaging the wider innnovator community through the establishment of an international Proof of Concept fund and through networking events such as September’s dynamic ‘Accelerating Healthcare Innovation’ event which attracted over 250 delegates.
The HealthTec Cluster encompasses a broad range of organisations located on the Harwell Science & Innovation Campus, working in association with wider networks like MedCity, OBN and AHSN.
At Harwell these include long-established centres such as MRC Harwell Institute and Public Health England, and large multidisciplinary national facilities such as the Diamond Light Source, the ISIS neutron source and the Central Laser Facility which are used extensively for life sciences R&D.
Moreover, the extensive technical and technology capabilities of the site make it an ideal launch point for technology-driven healthcare initiatives. These include the world-leading technology capability of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and an extensive Space Cluster that includes the ESA ECSAT centre, the Satellite Applications Catapult, the UK Space Agency and RAL Space.
The key focus fields of the HealthTec Cluster include:
- Medical diagnosis, monitoring and therapy, genetics and genomics and personalised medicine
- Pharmacology, microbiology, cell and structural biology
- Environmental Health
- Healthcare related Technology
- Big data
- Analytics, data handling and archiving
- High-performance computing
- Space (Telemedicine, Environmental monitoring, Emergency services support, disease vector mapping, patient tracking, technology transfer.)
- Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology
Oxford’s healthcare ideas and innovation lab
In Summer 2016, TheHill was launched – Oxford’s healthcare ideas and innovation lab – vehicle to help promote healthcare innovation in Oxford. Building the next generation of healthcare projects and businesses, TheHill is open to everyone, including nurses, researchers, doctors, engineers, healthcare professionals, designers, patients, developers, entrepreneurs, carers, investors and others.
From a team including the founders of the Oxford Deanery’s 2023 Innovation Challenge & Digital Health Oxford, and with Oxford AHSN as a strategic partner, TheHill is the place to come for support and inspiration to solve our big societal challenges in healthcare.
Sitting at the heart of Oxford’s medical, academic, digital and entrepreneurial communities, the lab has the core aims:
- to build and promote a community of innovators;
- to create an environment to actively support innovators and their projects, startups and spinouts;
- to make a positive social impact through the uptake of ideas in healthcare and public health;
- to become a leading centre for health innovation, attracting external innovators, collaborators and related bodies to Oxford; and
- to work with existing organsations and resources to best achieve these aims.
The lab launched its first Preaccelerator in 2016 and a 10-week programme for summer 2017.
Critical care patient safety innovations
The Oxford Academic Health Science Network is working closely with two NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) Fellows to implement three patient safety devices within Critical Care. The devices provide engineered solutions that remove the possibility of human error and improve the safety of the most critically ill patients. To support the uptake of these ideas, implementation Support Packs from the AHSN provide Trusts with all the necessary information to implement the devices, providing clinicians and project leads with a step by step guide to implementation, designed to help simplify the process of implementation.
A practical session was held in May 2017 to help uptake of the innovations. Contributors in the video below include the inventors, members of the Oxford AHSN team supporting the uptake of these devices across its region and beyond and clinicians who are implementing the devices.
Case study: Oxehealth
With an Oxford-based team of innovators that has significant expertise in computer vision, signal processing and machine learning,
Oxehealth, is a joint spin-out from University of Oxford and our local Health Trust, delivering continuous, medical-grade contact-free vital signs monitoring through low-cost digital video camera sensors.
Oxehealth works with our police, mental health, hospital and assisted living organisations to address the problems related to health monitoring in a population where care of the elderly is becoming an increasing societal challenge, as well as helping monitor the health of those with mental health problems, people in acute care, and people held in prisons and police stations. Its innovative software enables digital video cameras to monitor human activity and vital signs. Oxehealth partners with clinicians & carers to develop SaaS workflow solutions to care for the vulnerable, sick and elderly more effectively and efficiently.
HMO Licencing Scheme
With new designations commencing on 25 January 2016 and 31 January 2017, we continue to improve our innovative and pioneering
Houses in Multiple Occupation Scheme (HMO), providing a direct benefit to people in the city by helping protect the health, safety and welfare of people sharing houses in Oxford, which is the most unaffordable city for housing in the UK.
This is different to most other parts of the UK, and is our direct reponse to the societal challenges created by uniquely-high HMO concentrations and issues in Oxford, where in the past HMOs provided the poorest homes in the city with 70% being assessed as unsafe.
Low Carbon Route Map
Our Low Carbon Oxford Route Map to 2020 sets out the actions that our partners are taking to meet the city’s commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40% by 2020.
Go Ultra Low Oxford
Go Ultra Low Oxford (OLEV) is a County and City Council project to trial electric car charging technologies on streets where off-street parking is unavailable.
The project has been awarded £816,000 from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to carry out a trial and eventual roll-out of on-street electric car charging technologies in residential areas of Oxford.
Working with the University of Oxford Transport Studies Unit and Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, we want to use the trial to understand how different charging technologies work in ‘real life’, how the technology performs technically, and how easy it is for the councils to uptake these technologies in practice.
The project aims to identify and explore innovative solutions to home-charging for Oxford residents who do not have access to off-street parking.
Thought to be the first on-street charging pilot of its size in the world, and described by the University of Oxford as having ‘global scientific significance’, the project is now seeing its first
roll-out, with six different charging technologies being installed – ranging from cable gullies to retrofitting lamp posts with charging stations – with the aim of finding the best solutions for Oxford residents.
OxFutures Phase 2
OxFutures Phase 2 is a £3.2M project for which the funding was secured this year.
Oxford’s Low Carbon Hub led the winning bid for £1.6m of European Regional Development funding that will be used to foster low carbon economic development in the city and county over the next three years. This funding will be matched with another £1.6m, the majority of which will come from six partners, which were also involved in the bid. The partners will work together to implement the project.
OxFutures will increase renewable energy generation by facilitating the sharing of knowledge and ideas between academics, local authorities and small/medium enterprises (SMEs); encouraging networking between SMEs; and offering grants for new products, new start-ups and energy-efficiency measures.
Through the uptake of new ideas, technologies and practices, the result will be an improvement in air quality in the city, a reduction in energy bills and CO2 emissions and a boost to the local economy.
The project will build on the success of the first phase of OxFutures which originated as a partnership between Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, and the Low Carbon Hub. During the first phase, a four-year EU-funded programme, £18 million of investments were leveraged into local renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
University of Oxford Carbon Innovation Programme
Launched in October 2016, the Carbon Innovation Programme is an exciting opportunity for University staff and students to develop and propose ideas for reducing building energy use and associated carbon emissions (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) across the University of Oxford’s functional estate.
Viable projects may be awarded funding to for the implementation and uptake of the ideas. Successful projects may be awarded a Carbon Innovator Award at the Sustainability Showcase Awards Evening. This year, 40 awards were given out for the the work of the nearly 300 people in 33 teams across the University who have taken more than 1,500 actions aimed at cutting the environmental impact of their workplaces including laboratories and colleges.
Looking to the future, and with advances in technology that carry the promise of sustainably, clean energy, availability of materials is set to come to the fore as a more and more pressing societal challenge in terms of city resilience and sustainability.
In anticipation, the city commissioned a scoping study, Material Oxford, that set out to find and map out innovation solutions as to how we might, as a city, understand and track the status and availability of the natural resources that underpin Oxford’s ability to function and thrive.
Material Oxford is about understanding all of our material issues: what we need materials resources for, and most particularly understanding how we can make sure this train arrives for us, each day, on into the future, to meet our needs. And it’s not just about the materials we can move around. Some of what makes Oxford work as a city comes from our landscape – the fresh air, beauty, clean water, and space to live and work that we get from places in and around the city.
The report presents a new methodology for understanding and tracking the most significant of these material issues.
Commissioned by Oxford City Council for Low Carbon Oxford, its results and recommendations are now under review.
Oxford Flood Network – The Things Network
The Oxford Flood Network is a citizen-led initiative for water-level monitoring sensors – a “guerilla network” in the spirit of the crowdsourced Japan Radiation Map created by the public around Fukushima in response to a lack of official information.
Since 2016, the group has been focussing on improving the underlying technology and has now moved to using LoRaWAN low-power wireless connectivity.
This means it can operate in any area that already has LoRaWAN coverage with The Things Network, and the group is now in the process of deploying pilots to several local authorities.
Oxford is prone to flooding. Although the Environment Agency provide blanket warnings, they have limited resources to help understand flooding at a street level.
It involves members of the local community installing their own water-level monitoring sensors and sharing local knowledge about rivers, streams and groundwater to build a better, hyper-local picture of the situation on the ground.
“My neighbour’s house has a borehole underneath and he measures the current groundwater level with a dipstick.” says Ben Ward of Love Hz, the organisation co-ordinating the initiative. “Friends a few roads away currently have water sloshing about under their living room in their floor void. These would both be great indicators of imminent flooding and could easily be added to the Internet of Things.”
The initiative is supported by local not-for-profit company and Smart Oxford partner, Nominet, whose Internet of Things research group has developed an innovative platform for managing and interactively visualising the collected data.