MK:Smart – helping to deliver the Internet of Things in Milton Keynes

Recycling site at Kingston Shopping district

Picture courtesy of MK NEWS / OneMK

MK:Smart partners BT, Milton Keynes Council and the OU are working in collaboration with Neul, the Connected Digital Economy Catapult and the Future Cities Catapult to build a city-wide, open access demonstration network for Machine to Machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT), based on the Weightless™ communications standard.

The MK Data Hub will provide the computing power and innovation needed to deliver new service improvements for MK citizens. In a world first city-wide network trial combining sensor technologies with low power data transfer, MK:Smart partners will bring practical skills and experimental thinking to help explore the benefits of the network.

“Milton Keynes is already known as a pioneer in the use of technology to make our city more efficient, this activity further demonstrates our commitment to a city-wide level of access,” said Geoff Snelson, Director of Strategy at Milton Keynes Council.

IOT cartoon -image copyright

Image copyright

The collaboration will deploy a series of low power sensors that connect physical objects to the internet using a low power network service based on the Weightless (Trademark) communications standard. This technology does not rely on expensive mobile communications or wifi networks and the low power sensors can be powered for years on simple AA batteries.

“We see this exciting project as a means of establishing an open innovation environment to support the creation of Machine to Machine (M2M) and IoT applications across a whole city,” said Alan Ward, Head of Corporate ICT Practice at BT.

Parking - Copyright mkweb

Image copyright MKWeb

The project will focus on two practical demonstrations. In one, the available capacity of commercial recycling bins in the city will be automatically measured and communicated to the council’s waste collection team. This will ensure that they schedule collection according to the volume of waste in the bins. Current collection scheduling, based on a regular planned route, leads to many bins being collected when they are far from full. Intelligent collection scheduling will lead to efficient use of council resources and reduce the need to expand the waste collection fleet.

In another demonstration the project team will deploy sensors in car parking spaces. The aim is to explore the reality of a parking app that uses real time data to inform motorists of parking availability, with the possibility of pre-booking and payment.

The project has already attracted interest from international media and places Milton Keynes firmly at the forefront of IoT application in the UK.

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