If you're not from the UK, you might not have heard about Milton Keynes. As I used to live in the UK, I even got to run a half marathon in Milton Keynes. It's an average English town with around 230k citizens. The government is planning to double that number by 2026, to relieve London's population growth. Milton Keynes is only about 70km from London and has a very good train connection.
The local government has realised how important and useful their existing data can be, and what connectivity can do for them. Therefore they have created the project MKSmart. It all started with the MK Data Hub. The data that is available to the public authorities can be immensely valuable if the different sources of data are combined. Without one data hub, every authority is only able to access its own data. However, combining it into one data base and in one structure allows algorithms and people to find correlations, draw conclusions, find patterns and exceptions and come up with ideas and suggstions for improvement. Local data is combined with national and other publicly available data, i.e. the weather.
This data can also be very valuable for companies and citizens. If I imagine that my mobile phone can tell me at any point in time if there is a parking spot available in front of the bakery in my little town, or when and where construction will take place, I would consider that a significant benefit.
Authorities, companies and others can add their data with their business and access rules to the data hub, and request access to available data. In this way, clever startups can develop and sell new apps and practical applications to improve things in Milton Keynes.
The city can use the data to improve usage of its own resources. It can become more efficient at using its own infrastructure, energy, water, and improve traffic management. As of today, the data hub consists of more than 700 data sets from 28 different owners, from education, logistics, businesses, energy, environment, sensors, statistics and water.
Next time I'll write more about practical applications of the data.