Education was a core element of the overall MK:Smart Programme. For smart cities to be effective they need to engage a broad range of people from businesses through to public services, school children to higher education students and the wider community. People need to understand what smart cities are, the possibilities and how they can participate and shape them. The aim of the education programme was to support different types of learners to acquire the awareness and skills relevant to smart cities.

Smart Cities MOOC

The MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) offers learners an introduction to smart cities, providing an insight into the role that smart technologies and data can play in addressing city challenges and how citizens can get involved in their creation. The course is designed to provide the knowledge, skills and tools for learners to co-create a smart city project. They explore what it’s like to live in a smart city, considering the role of design, systems thinking, living labs, open data, crowdsourcing, finance, business models and standards in their design and development. They also join global debates on the challenges of privacy, ethics and security and weigh up the value of different approaches to smart leadership, partnerships, strategy and metrics. The six week free course launched on 28th September 2015 and will again in Septemebr 2018.

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Urban Data School: Smart City Data Literacy for Schools

Urban Data School

The Urban Data School is an initiative to bring data literacy education to primary and secondary schools. The Urban data school worked with schools in Milton Keynes to enable pupils to critically analyse complex Smart City data sets, and to use data literacy skills to investigate critical urban issues.

Data literacy – the ability to use data as part of complex reasoning and to accurately critique and interpret data to ask and answer meaningful questions – is an important civic skill that forms the foundation of an innovative knowledge economy. The data made available by MK:Smart represent an important educational resource for teaching data literacy and the Urban Data School is the first initiative to use Smart City data – from energy data to satellite data – in education.

The work of the Urban Data School covered several aspects:

  • Data sets: Giving teachers and schools access to curated environmental and urban data sets
  • Data skills: Enabling pupils to handle, manage, question and interrogate urban and environmental data
  • Data stories: Enabling pupils to tell engaging and effective stories with data
  • Innovation: Enabling pupils to use data to design and evaluate urban innovation projects

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Urban Startup Lab

Lean Start-ups in Smart Cities

The MK Data Hub supports the generation, understanding and application of huge amounts of information to help citizens and businesses better understand how Milton Keynes works. But how can startups use this data to create new products and services for our city?

Fronesys—a global partnership of associates that helps cities and businesses to deliver integrated thinking to increase efficiency, reduce risk and enhance overall performance—teamed up with MK:Smart to deliver the Urban Startup Lab.

This programme of workshops was valuable not only to technology entrepreneurs but anyone who wants to better understand and influence how technology transforms business and society in an urban context.

The Urban Startup Lab explored the tools that urban startups need to prosper and succeed, and provided opportunities to work in teams to develop startup ideas.

It supported teams’ ability to spot an opportunity that addresses a real-world need, formulate an initial business idea—perhaps even a software prototype—and gradually evolve it based on input from potential customers, instructors, other students and outside advisors.


Leader: Janet Van Der Linden
Open University