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Five project management stories you shouldn’t have missed in November

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New ‘smart infrastructure’ project aims to revolutionise UK roads

Buckinghamshire County Council and Lancaster University’s Department of Engineering have launched an incredibly ambitious infrastructure project – one that has implications beyond just the roads we drive on.

The SMART Community: Live Labs project aims to use smart infrastructure technology to generate electricity from the kinetic energy of passing traffic. The project had received a £4.5m innovation grant from the SMART Places Live Labs programme, which is funded by the Department for Transport and led by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT).

The project aims to design, fabricate and install smart roads that generate electricity using piezoelectricity and hydromechanical dynamics from passing traffic. This electricity will be stored by roadside batteries to power streetlights, road signs and air pollution monitors, among other things. The technology will be tested in Aylesbury.

Reforestation project turns former cattle farm into largest private new woodland

Doddington North, in Northumberland, was once a sheep and cattle farm. Now, it’s becoming a 350-hectare woodland – the largest new private woodland in the UK. The reforestation project is being managed by Pennine Forestry, which is committed to doing more reforestation projects.

The Doddington North project received grant money from the Forestry Commission, which insisted that 40 per cent of trees planted were commercial timber. The rest is made up of native species, such as birch, aspen and oak.

The project is set to complete its first stage – the planting – at the end of the year. But the work isn’t over then; the land needs to be managed in order to protect the trees as they go.

International project aims to improve understanding of the universe

Scientists from 31 nations, including from Sheffield University, are coming together to work on the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) project, which aims to discover more about the origin and structure of the universe.

It will do this by studying the behaviour of neutrinos and their anti-matter equivalents, antineutrinos, to discover why the universe is dominated by matter, rather than antimatter.

It will also watch for supernova neutrinos, which are produced when a star explodes, in turn allowing scientists to study neutron stars and black holes.

“The University of Sheffield will play a key role in the UK’s effort to build the main liquid argon detector for DUNE, following the group’s success in developing the engineering structures for the ProtoDune detector at CERN in Geneva,” says Professor Neil Spooner, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. “The opportunity this new project provides to developing further high-level engineering skills in the Department of Physics and Astronomy is of great importance to us.”

Massachusetts brings robo-dogs to its Police Force – invites Terminator comparisons

The Massachusetts State Police Department (MAPD) is currently trialling the use of Boston Dynamics Spot robots to work alongside its officers. The project is apparently delivering good results, both in testing scenarios and live incidents. However, it’s proving controversial with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has publicly criticised the pilot and demanded that the MAPD answer questions as to how they might be used.

The ACLU got involved when a video of the ‘dogs’ in action was shared online. The group said that this was a change that was taking place too fast, and that total transparency was needed on how the robots were being used. Specifically, they want to know if the robots will ever be armed – bringing to mind the Rise of the Machines.

The MAPD and Boston Dynamics responded in turn to say that the robo-dogs were primarily being used to assist in bomb disposal incidents, or as an observation device in environments that might be harmful for humans. "Robot technology is a valuable tool for law enforcement because of its ability to provide situational awareness of potentially dangerous environments," said David Procopio, a spokesman for the state police force.

A Boston Dynamics spokesperson added that the company had included a specific clause in its leasing contract prohibiting the use of the robots to physically harm or intimidate people.

British Embassy in Ukraine accepting bids for defence governance reform project

The British Embassy in Kyiv is accepting project proposals from organisations to manage a project to support corporate governance reform of the Ukrainian-owned defence company Ukroboronprom (UoP).

The project’s objective is to support governance reform by reviewing UoP’s corporate governance model, identifying areas for improvement and best practices, defining a target corporate governance model and developing a reform action plan.

The Embassy is looking for project managers experienced in Ukrainian corporate governance models for state-owned organisations, with an understanding of Ukraine politics, economics and history.

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