Supporting citizens to shape the future of Milton Keynes

Too often Smart City projects focus solely on technological solutions. We want to hear and act on what MK citizens think would make our city more sustainable.

Community Action: MKThe Citizen Innovation team is made up of researchers from The Open University, community outreach experts from Community Action: MK and designers from Graymatter Ltd. Together we are developing a new understanding of how to facilitate citizen-led innovations that make local communities more sustainable. Smart City projects too often focus solely on technological solutions to address urban sustainability issues while ignoring the existing community and grass-roots initiatives. As part of the MK:Smart initiative, we have developed two different approaches for harnessing the collective intelligence of local citizens to co-create a sustainable future for Milton Keynes.

The first approach saw Community Action: MK’s Community Mobilisers go out into communities to talk to people about their issues, interests and ideas and record impacts of interventions and activities, as part of an engagement programme. We then analysed these conversations to generate an understanding of city-wide priorities.We have been using an engagement app called QuickChat to collect dialogue from people across the city. The app was developed by Graymatter for Community Action: MK and since its creation in 2013 over 20,000 pieces of dialogue have been collected. Over 900 of these have been ‘smart’ conversations with people across the city, and we have heard all kinds of ideas from text alerts if your bus is running late, to a school workshop to teach kids about their energy and water use.

Community Action: MK

The second platform was an online ideation platform, Our MK. The Citizen Innovation workpackage has supported people to play an active role in urban innovation, from the crowdsourcing of initial ideas through to funding and supporting citizen led projects. We have seen Citizen’s projects come to life through the Our MK process! Find out how in our video below:

Our MK: Co-creating Smart Cities

The Our MK Citizen’s Projects we’ve been supporting are…

  1. MK Food Passport Scheme & Independent Food Forum
  2. £ssential Savings Digital Pop Up Shop
  3. Off Grid Domestic Lighting
  4. Allotment Borehole
  5. Go Breastfeeding MK App
  6. Community Computing Literacy
  7. Centre MK Beacon Navigation for Visually Impaired
  8. Gamification of Redways
  9. Redways Network Videos
  10. School Water Week & Student Group
  11. Redways Reporting App

Another round of projects were funded in early 2017 and this work demonstrates how digital tools can empower citizens to take the lead in conceiving of and running bottom-up initiatives, with implications for Smart City projects across the UK and internationally.

Get in touch:

Dr Daniel Gooch
The Open University

Dr Janet Van Der Linden
The Open University

Community Action: MK team