Milton Keynes Citizen Ideation Platform wins Smart Cities 2017 award

Milton Keynes is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK and a great economic success story. However, the challenge of supporting sustainable growth without exceeding the capacity of the infrastructure, and whilst meeting key carbon reduction targets, is a major one. The solution: turn Milton Keynes into a Smart City.

Graymatter, the Open University and the MK Council came together to create a consortium bid for HEFCE funding (Higher Education Funding Council for England) to enable academia, industry and the Council to work together in delivering a Smart City initiatives.

Integrating information, communication technology and Internet of things technology to manage the city's assets was one aspect. Graymatter’s contribution to the bid focused on engaging citizens in the innovation process.

The successful bid resulted in a clear mandate for Graymatter: design a digital-first citizen engagement platform that tapped into the collective spirit, ambition and brain-power of the community to address MK sustainability challenges.

The result: ‘OurMK’ is an award-winning citizen ideation platform designed by Graymatter that enables and empowers citizens of Milton Keynes to submit, share, collaborate and establish sustainability projects.

The success of the ‘OurMK’ citizen ideation platform is evidenced by the number and quality of the sustainability projects funded – project that are delivering tangible benefits for Milton Keynes and directly addressing sustainability issues.

Project 1: MK Food Passport Scheme & Independent Food Forum

MK Food Revolution were funded to develop the ‘Milton Keynes Indie Food Passport’, a brochure type passport, which included descriptions and addresses of local food outlets (including directions and opening times) as well as general information on the Milton Keynes independent food scene.

Project 2: Essential Savings Pop Up Shop

All Small Things were focussed on promoting the sale and use of recycled and upcycled furniture. Reusing old furniture brings many sustainability benefits, particularly with regards of consuming raw materials.

Project 3: Gamification of Redway Cycle Paths

The Gamification of the Redways project was based around a digital treasure hunt to encourage people to get out and use the Redways network. The project engaged 131 active participants (49 adults and 82 children) with user comments suggested the game format and topic was fun and engaging. 43% of survey respondents stated that using the game increased their use of the Redway cycle paths.

Project 4: Off Grid Domestic Lighting

Promoted an extremely low-cost system for off-grid solar lighting. Such a system is about promoting and fostering a sense of independence and resilience and at the same time hopefully encouraging a more judicious and respectful attitude to domestic electricity consumption.

Project 5: Allotment Borehole

The Patch Allotments in Woughton on the Green requested funding to drill a borehole which would provide off-mains water for their allotment site.

Project 6: Go Breastfeeding MK App

The Breastfeeding Hub App is focussed on creating an app to promote the use of breastfeeding within Milton Keynes.

Project 7: Community Computing Literacy

The Community Computing Literacy scheme focusses on the Raspberry Pi platform. The scheme is planning on running a series of workshops across Milton Keynes to help teach parents basic computer literacy skills.

Project 8: Centre MK Beacon Navigation for Visually Impaired

The Centre MK Beacon system aims to explore the potential for using bluetooth beacons, installed across Centre MK, to help people with visual impairments navigate inside buildings within the city centre.

Project 9: Redway Network Videos

This project will highlight the location, status, and interest points of key Redway routes, using short videos which will be available to all online, including on Youtube.

Project 10: Redway Reporting App

The project is based around developing a phone app which can be used to quickly and easily record and report problems with the Redway system.

Project 11: Tackling Fuel Poverty

This project is focussed on distributing blankets to alleviate some of this fuel poverty. Through distributing the blankets we aim to collect fine-grain information to help the residents' association influence the regeneration of the estate.

Project 12: Zero waste food shopping

Milton Keynes Council has a Zero Waste strategy to send nothing to landfill by 2024. This project, run by Forest and Folk, will provide residents with an opportunity to buy bulk dry goods such as pasta, rice, flour and beans in re-usable containers thereby reducing non-recyclable packaging waste.

Project 13: Age Friendly map of Milton Keynes

Social isolation and loneliness is a growing problem. This project is focussed on making it easier for older people to visit the city centre to participate in art and cultural activities by creating a digital map, of the city centre, highlighting relevant practical information, that older people can access.

Dean Gray
Founder, MD and Brand Strategist