Here are some of the fruits of the last two year’s Festivals where we have cracked some of the toughest environmental and societal problems which are making a significant difference to the world right now.
IF18 led us to explore digital twins. Using the same technology that NASA use to test their spaceships, we’re able to test the durability and resilience of some of our assets in all kinds of simulated conditions - meaning we can build better and stronger infrastructure in the future. We’re working with Newcastle University using digital twin modelling to simulate incident response during flooding in order to help people quicker in real-world emergencies. We call it ‘Twincidents’.
DIGITAL UNDERGROUND MAPS
Underground mapping was one of the most exciting outcomes from IF18. It’s something that the utilities industry has struggled with for decades and at our festival we worked alongside the experts Ordnance Survey to set about creating a fully detailed map of all of the networks of pipes, wires and systems beneath our feet. We’re working closely with Northern Power Grid, Northern Gas Networks, OpenReach and our local authorities and are getting ready for our first real life trial of the project in Sunderland and we think the benefits will be huge for us all.
Coming to a toilet near you soon! Barnacle - A smart device that will sit inside customers’ cisterns and remotely detect and report problems with their water supplies before they even realise they have an issue! Thought up at IF18 and now being piloted and tested ready for launch in 2019 – the compact device is set to make big waves across the water industry!
NEWCASTLE MOSS TREE
IF17 saw England’s first ever pollution tackling Moss Tree being introduced into Newcastle city centre. The living, breathing, tech filled tree is, as we speak, helping to reduce city centre air pollution for the people of the North East. And we’re working closely with Ordnance Survey, Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University to measure the benefits it’s bringing to the area.
With the idea coming out of the first Innovation Festival, we have launched a customised “Skill”, Alexa’s version of an app. Work to develop the skill has been done in partnership with Newcastle based developer Hedgehog Lab. The Alexa “Skill” uses artificial intelligence (AI) to inform and educate customers. It allows customers to receive notifications informing and updating them of issues relating to its service in their area and to learn facts and tips about how to use water more wisely, simply by asking Alexa.
SMILING HAPPY PEOPLE POWER
At our IF18, our Smiling Happy People Power sprint looked at how we could create happier, healthier and safer workplaces. Our sprint team felt that organisations could do much more to support women and their families through the menopause. With women being the fastest growing workforce demographic and with estimations that by 2020, 1 in 3 British workers will be over 50, we felt this could make a big difference.
In 2019 we have developed a clear approach to menopause education, with in-house workshops and webinars, a dedicated Menopause Awareness Toolkit and guidance for Line Managers. We are looking forward to evolving this further and also showcasing some of this at the IF2019!