What we do
As part of the MK:Smart project the Open University and Community Action: MK have been working closely to establish a model which provides opportunities for citizens to be involved in designing their own smarter city. We have achieved this through a process we branded as Our MK, taking people’s initial ideas and supporting them to become a reality. The 4 key elements involved have been:
- Community Engagement
- Development of Ideas
- Competition for Funding & Support
- Support & Guidance
MK:Smart has been a useful way of trying and testing an effective process for supporting citizen innovation and we are now looking to extend this beyond the end of the MK:Smart project.
1. Community Engagement
Community engagement is a fundamental baseline to all successful projects. We engaged people using Community Action: MK’s Community Mobilisers. They went out into communities to initiate conversations face to face about smart city topics, which were all recorded on our QuickChat Dialogue App. We collected over 900 pieces of conversation in the initial stages of the project, which gave an insight to people’s priorities. We are also able to target hard to reach groups, such as in more deprived areas, ethnic minorities and young people, that are least likely to bring themselves into such conversations.
To find out more about our QuickChat Dialogue App visit
2. Development of Ideas
Bringing like minded people together, is also a useful way to spark further discussion and initiate new ideas. We provided people with the opportunity to collaborate in two ways; at workshops, focus groups and networking events; and online via the Our MK Collaboration Platform, a website where people could post ideas and collaborate on others ideas. This has formed the start of our Innovation Network a space where people can develop ideas and share and support each other. We already have over 280 people signed up to our regular newsletters, and even more have attended events.
You can visit the Our MK website at www.ourmk.org
3. Competition for Funding & Support
The Our MK Competition provided a target for people with ideas to work towards and encouraged citizens to consolidate their ideas into something achievable and within their reach. We promoted the opportunity widely using social media, newsletters, press releases, posters, newspaper adverts and shared information at our networking events. The application process was fine tuned and the type of support was adapted based on what worked through this project. We held drop in style sessions where people could come for advice, workshops to discuss ideas and in the end had 18 applications for funding. A Funding Panel made up of senior partners used an assessment criteria to decide on those to fund and the 18 were whittled down to 11 that fit within the MK:Smart criteria.
4. Support & Guidance
New ideas need to be nurtured and this is happening through providing the awarded project owners with one to one support through an assigned member of the Community Action: MK team. That team member was able to meet them on a regular basis and offer assistance for various elements of their project dependant on their needs. We could provide useful links to MK:Smart project partners for specialist expertise and knowledge, such as key figures in the council, or within businesses or academia. Our ongoing support has also included sharing opportunities to be more involved in local decisions such as attending workshops and accessing further funding.
For general information about MK:Smart visit www.mksmart.org
or the Citizen Innovation workpackage visit www.mksmart.org/citizens
Our social impact
We believe in the success of the Our MK model and believe this model could be used as the basis for numerous other projects beyond MK:Smart. We’d love to see Citizens continue to shape their communities, take action on their ideas and collaborate with others to do this. We’d love to discuss how this could work in partnership with you.