Smart cities
Smart cities

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Smart cities

1.1.2 Milton Keynes and MK:Smart

This is the first of three smart city case studies. As you meet these cities think about their similarities and differences, and what might influence the approach each of them has taken.

This video introduces some of the issues faced by Milton Keynes (often called MK), the UK’s fastest growing city, founded less than 50 years ago.

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ENRICO MOTTA:
Milton Keynes is the UK's fastest growing city. Like all growing cities it's going to need more water efficiency, clever energy usage, and better transport solutions if its growth is going to be sustainable.
GEOFF SNELSON:
Milton Keynes is growing really quickly. We've got plans for 28,000 new homes and that's going to place enormous pressure on our existing infrastructure. We can't just continue to do things in the way that we have done to date, we've got to find new and innovative ways of dealing with that.
ENRICO MOTTA:
It's a big issue. And not just for Milton Keynes but for pretty much everybody in the UK and most people on the planet. 90 percent of us in the UK live in cities and for the first time in history more of the global population are living in growing urban areas. I work at Open University on a project we are leading called MK Smart, which is looking how to make Milton Keynes, and turn other cities, a lot smarter. MK Smart is a 16 million pound investment in Milton Keynes. We are working with key players like Milton Keynes Council, Cambridge University, University of Bedfordshire, British Telecom, and others to harness data and develop new solutions as Milton Keynes grows.
It's about using data from data centres like these to help people manage their water and energy use more efficiently and to move around Milton Keynes more easily. Let's look at one very simple example, a data driven solution that helps people to manage water usage in their garden. I grew up in Sicily. Believe it or not my hometown in Sicily actually gets more rainfall per annum then Milton Keynes, so it's clearly necessary to improve Milton Keynes' water management. When there are water shortages, hosepipe bands are introduced. But how can we advise people to use water more efficiently to prevent such shortages?
Well, one way to do this would be to provide an app on a smartphone or a tablet which provides you with a customised calendar which tells you whether your garden needs watering now or in the next few days. The app is integrating data from weather forecasts, satellite observations, ground sensors, and air temperatures to provide you with very specific advice about when to water the garden. So this is just one example of how our work in MK Smart make possible using real time information to help everyone in the city to make better use of water, energy, and transport.
Milton Keynes is a cool place to live with the bustle you'd expect from the fastest growing city in the UK. But this growth has to be sustainable and this is what MK Smart is all about.
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MK:Smart [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] is a £16 million collaborative smart city initiative partly funded by a grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and led by The Open University, which will develop innovative solutions to support the economic growth of Milton Keynes.

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