Scaling-up community care with MK:Communities

The GATEKEEPER project, a large-scale pilot initiative across Europe focusing on smart living environments, was financially supported by the EU’s Horizon 2020 program. Its primary objective was to develop smart data-driven solutions for personalized early risk detection and intervention.

Collaborators on this endeavor were the Woughton Community Council (WCC), which represented the oldest of the new Milton Keynes settlements with a community comprising around 20,000 residents, Spirocco, an SME specializing in digital health provision, and the University of Utrecht.

The coordination of this innovative intervention model, along with the development of the MK:Community mobile App and community engagement activities, was overseen by the Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) at the Open University in collaboration with WCC and the University of Utrecht.

The MK:Community App, designed to support activities within the Woughton Community Council neighborhood, facilitated local residents in making and responding to requests related to daily tasks such as coordinating walks or arranging transportation to medical appointments. The app’s latest update introduced an “offer” feature, allowing groups to organize socialization and other events.

Over a span of five years, including the challenging period of the Covid-19 pandemic, this initiative yielded enduring insights into the role of digital technology in community-based care and introduced new marketable services for the SME.

In 2023, the experience gained from MK:Communities served as the focal point for twinning activities involving seven EU organizations, who visited Milton Keynes to learn about the processes, outcomes, and lessons learned from WCC community managers and KMi researchers.