Innovation and changeDigital TransformationWatford finds new tech partners through innovation competition

Watford finds new tech partners through innovation competition

Competition invited technology companies pitching new ideas for ways to counter the abuse of parking places and measure visitor footfall

Watford Borough Council’s inaugural innovation competition has resulted in two tech firms being chosen to develop new solutions for key council issues.

The competition, run in partnership with Digital Catapult, invited technology companies pitching new ideas for ways to counter the abuse of parking places and measure visitor footfall.

Parking problems

The first challenge was to develop a solution that identifies if a vehicle is correctly using a restricted parking space, such as a taxi rank or controlled parking zone.

The IoT Solutions Group presented the winning bid and will now be awarded £20,000 to develop technology that uses magnetometers within the road to communicate with equipment placed in registered vehicles. Unregistered vehicles entering the zone will trigger an automatic alert that will be sent to a nearby enforcement officer.

Commenting on the award, Neal Forse, Director at IoT Solutions Group said: “Our technology will allow for a more targeted approach to traffic enforcement and will reduce the risk of Watford residents getting into unlicensed taxis. It’s a pleasure to be working with such a forward-thinking council, who are embracing technology to help drive their operational expenses down and provide a better service to their residents.”

Footfall and visitor numbers

The pitch for the visitor footfall challenge was won by Giosprite, who have been awarded £10,000 to develop a solution that can provide footfall and visitor flow information to the same or better standards than existing camera type methodologies.

Anthony Brown, sales and marketing director at Giosprite, said, “We’re delighted to have taken part in this exciting challenge – and won! It was such a great experience, and we’re proud to be working with Watford Borough Council who clearly have innovation and the needs of their residents and visitors at the heart of their smart city strategy.”

“We look forward to being a part of the Council’s first steps toward ‘Digital Watford’. We’re confident our innovative footfall monitoring solution will provide a more flexible, cost effective and accurate way for them to monitor town centre viability and give them greater insight into the impact – and success – of their ‘Big Events’ programme.”

Watford’s Elected Mayor, Peter Taylor, said: “I am looking forward to seeing how the technology our two winners are developing can really improve the services we offer to our residents and businesses. Innovative technologies such as these enable us to provide better and better services to our residents while identifying cost savings to help Council funds go further.”

The public sector is increasingly turning to competitions like this to solve digital problems. For example, the West Midlands Combined Authority launched a competition that invited tech start-ups to develop solutions to pressing issues in the region around wellbeing, homelessness, youth unemployment, and digital citizenship.

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