Smart Cities Open Challenge – Winners Announced

MK Grid ImageThe Open University (OU) recently ran a Smart Cities Open Challenge, where OU academics and researchers were invited to submit research proposals which build on the capability being developed in MK:Smart. Successful proposals for Smart City project funding have been announced.

The Open University are capitalising on the strategic opportunity created by the Higher Education Funding Council of England’s (HEFCE) investment in the MK:Smart Project and opening up new lines of inquiry and application in areas such as the humanities, social sciences, business and management, health and education, as well as collaboration with other universities.

The standard of applications was very high, with a total of seventeen proposals received, covering a wide range of ideas. The successful applicants are:


1) Sensors and Apps for Languages in Smart Areas (SALSA) – Dr Mark Gaved et al, Institute of Educational Technology

Milton Keynes has a diverse population; like many cities it includes young people who have migrated for work and study and do not have English as a first language. Dr Gaved has proposed two main activities. Firstly, they will be mapping the current use of language learning apps around the city to identify critical spaces for the provision of network access and contextual language learning support. Second of all, they will be testing sensors to trigger highly contextual language learning support of smartphones in key locations across the city to understand their efficacy and potential for future rollout.


2) The SmartDframe project. Data-driven evaluation framework for Smart City projects – Dr Sally Caird and Prof Gerd Kortuem, Faculty of Maths Computing and Technology

The SmartDframe project will develop a new ‘smart city evaluation framework’ to support city development and regeneration programmes. Working closely with the MK:Smart initiative, European city authorities, industry stakeholders, academics, and policy-makers, SmartDframe aims to trial a smart city evaluation framework that is data-driven, impact-focused, holistic, well-defined, and  transferable across projects. This will allow systemic monitoring, inter-comparisons and evaluation of city projects.


3) The Internet of Green Things: citizen science and sensing technologies – Dr Jon Rosewell et al, Faculty of Maths Computing and Technology

This project will support citizen-science investigations based on biological and environmental monitoring in Milton Keynes. These will combine data from a sensor network with observation and recording by citizens and school children. They will develop and deploy a sensor network based on low-cost sensors. These sensors will communicate via the emerging ‘Weightless’ protocol for M2M communication used in the pilot Internet of Things (IoT) trial commencing in Milton Keynes. Combined data will be openly accessible. Organisations such as local schools, the Parks Trust and local natural history societies will be invited partners. Participatory workshops will be help to identify and define suitable investigations.


These three projects will run from August 2014 to July 2015. Watch this space to hear about their progress over the next year.