A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Telensa's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Telensa is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Will Franks, CEO
Edinburgh: 64,000 streetlights
Based in Cambridge, Telensa is a market-leading technology
company dedicated to making city infrastructure across the
world smarter, more cost-effective and more responsive
to the needs of citizens. They do this by wirelessly connecting
traditionally isolated infrastructure like street lighting to
sophisticated monitoring and control applications. This enables
the infrastructure itself to report problems, to respond to
local events and to inform strategic city decision-making with
better data. The company has recently extended its reach to
cover traffic analytics, waste bins, drains and air quality. Today,
one in every ten streetlights in the UK is controlled by Telensa
technology, and 1.5 million lights are now connected worldwide.
Much is said about the “fourth industrial revolution”, but less is
said about the companies who drive it forward. CEO Will Franks
What we do
Technology has the potential to change the way cities work. Joining up city services
can give municipal leaders insights to better understand the needs of citizens and
to optimise strategic investment. But most city infrastructure today remains isolated,
and technology solutions for connecting millions of streetlights, bins and drains
have not been affordable. At the same time, growing concerns over issues like air
quality demand hyperlocal monitoring data per-street rather than today’s per-district
monitors. At Telensa we pioneered a way to cost-effectively connect and control
»CEO: Will Franks
»Established in 2005
»Based in Cambridge
»Services: Development of
smart city solutions, including
wireless street lighting control
»No. of employees: 110
»They control 1.5 million
streetlights around the world
streetlights over wide areas, and now
we’re extending this to other areas of
street-level infrastructure. Today we
have major city deployments all over
the world, from Gloucestershire to the
American state of Georgia.
It all started with streetlights. Our
intelligent system consists of wireless
plug-in modules connecting individual
lights, a wide-area wireless network
owned by the city or region, and a
central management application in
the cloud. The system pays for itself
in reduced energy and maintenance
costs, improves quality of service
through automatic fault reporting and
by adapting local lighting dynamically
to meet the needs of citizens. Just ten
years and more than 1.5 million lights
later, we are the world’s most popular
connected streetlight system.
Streetlight poles, when connected
by Telensa, are a great place to put
sensors – they are spread evenly
around towns, cities and major roads.
Poles provide electrical power, and
sensors can be installed safely out of
reach. Sensor examples include traffic
analytics, which can provide not just
real-time traffic volume, but more
nuanced information related to safety,
such as the mix of trucks, cars and
cycles. Another example is air quality
monitoring, which is a hyperlocal
issue; however, traditional monitoring
solutions typically operate at a district-
wide scale. Local authorities and city
planners need to know precisely where
and when the pollution hotspots are,
and how this translates into human
exposure, for pedestrians, residents,
schools and hospitals.
A lighting network that covers a whole
city can also be used to connect street
infrastructure away from the light pole.
We install sensors in waste bins to
predict when they will next need to be
emptied. When this data is analysed,
collection routes can be optimised and
bins can be moved to areas where
Atlanta USA: 120,000
Telensa sensor/controller
poles are a
great place to
put sensors
Highlighting best practice
they are most needed. In addition,
overflowing or overturned bins can
be immediately resolved. Another
example is road drains, which once
filled with silt can cause flooding. By
monitoring the silt level, the emptying
operation can be optimised and the
risk of flooding all but eliminated.
Embracing this kind of technology
makes cities smarter, and it’s being
adopted around the world. We are
seeing strong growth in North and
South America, Australasia, the Middle
East and Southeast Asia.
Despite this global reach, however,
we are still very much a UK company.
Telensa’s research and development
base in Cambridge is at the cutting
edge of internet of things (IoT)
innovation and all of our products are
manufactured in the UK, where we
partner with Sony UK Tech at their
award-winning facility in Wales.
How the future will look
We believe that cities can become
smart by making better decisions
based on better data, and by
automating key infrastructure so that
they can dynamically respond to the
changing environment. This will all
be done without collecting personally
identifiable information, and without
handing over all the data to third-
party companies. In other words, there
is a data-driven future for cities that
has no big brother overtones. We
believe that, in the future, cities will
take control of their data assets in the
same way that they safeguard physical
assets today.
In the end, smart city solutions
are about improving the lives of
citizens while at the same time
reducing the overall running costs
by improving efficiency. Air quality
is a good example. Traffic is a major
contributor to pollution, and pollution
has a detrimental effect on health
outcomes, cost of care and quality
of life. Imagine being able to use
detailed information to see the big
picture: correlating traffic data with
air quality data, population exposure
data and health data. We started
with streetlights, and we see a bright
future for the fully instrumented,
We see a
bright future
for the fully
The data-driven

This article was sponsored by Telensa. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister