“The opportunity to develop new technologies for smart cities in the UK is massive. We want to make sure that we are at the forefront of this digital revolution…”

The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science

City Centre High View Milton Keynes is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK and a great economic success story. However, the challenge of supporting sustainable growth without exceeding the capacity of the infrastructure, and whilst meeting key carbon reduction targets, is a major one.

MK:Smart is a large collaborative initiative, partly funded by HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) and led by The Open University, which is developing innovative solutions to support economic growth in Milton Keynes.

Central to the project is the creation of a state-of-the-art ‘MK Data Hub’ which supports the acquisition and management of vast amounts of data relevant to city systems from a variety of data sources. These include data about energy and water consumption, transport data, data acquired through satellite technology, social and economic datasets, and crowdsourced data from social media or specialised apps.

Building on the capability provided by the MK Data Hub, the project is innovating in the areas of transport, energy and water management, tackling key demand issues.

In addition to these technical solutions, MK:Smart also comprises ambitious education, business and community engagement activities, including:

  • An integrated programme of business engagement, aimed at supporting businesses that wish to take advantage of the innovation capabilities developed in MK:Smart. A key component of this activity is the Innovation and Incubation Centre (IIC) at University Campus Milton Keynes (UCMK), which provides training in data-driven business innovation and the digital economy, as well as hands-on support for business development, demonstration facilities, and an incubation space.
  • A smart city education programme engaging a wide range of audiences, from local schools to higher education students and businesses. This programme provides advanced training covering digital technologies, business innovation and urban services to empower students and practitioners with the skills and competences needed to participate in the creation of a smart city.
  • Engagement activity involving citizens in the innovation process, not just through an outreach programme, but also by engaging the community in innovation-centric decision-making processes through the establishment of a Citizen Lab.