Milton Keynes leverages IoT for innovative smart city services

Manchester Smart City
The demand for IoT in creating smarter cities will become increasingly important as London’s population continues to grow. By 2050 the capital city will need over one million new homes, 600 more schools, and will see a 20% increase in energy demand, 21% increase in water demand, and require 50% more public transport capacity

In the UK, the city of Milton Keynes is reported to be one of the first cities in England to establish a city-wide, open  access Internet of Things (IoT) network in a bid to demonstrate the ability of M2M infrastructure as a testing ground for smart city services.

The 18-month project is led by consortium including the Milton Keynes city council, British multinational telecommunications services company BT, base station builder, Neul, and the the Future Cities and Connected Digital Economies Catapults – an accelerator promoting economic  growth and innovation in UK cities.

The project, supported by public research university, Open University will reveal the capability of M2M infrastructure to support a large number of static and mobile sensors. The overall objective however,  is to attract innovative start-up companies to use the infrastructure as a test-bed for commercial applications that can be used in cities throughout the UK.

The M2M infrastructure is based on the Weightless™ communication standard – a set of LPWAN open wireless technology standards for the exchange of data between a base station and thousands of machines around it.

As part of establishing the M2M architecture for the project, consortium partners BT and Neul Ltd, are working with the Milton Keynes Council, to install a network of Weightless™ base stations to provide coverage across the city for low power, connected sensors.

IoT to accelerate smart city services development

Milton Keynes has already put a number of IoT pilot projects in motion, including waste management, car parking services as well as pothole reporting using smartphone gyroscopes.

Geoff Snelson, director of strategy at the Milton Keynes city council said that smart cities in the futures will need to address the barriers to sustainable housing, job growth, create new service models for councils and reduce carbon emissions.

The Milton Keynes has other several projects in the pipeline including the installation of sensors in the city’s public recycling bins to detect when the bin is full, and will also ‘network’ the city’s 20,000 surface car parking spaces to provide information on space availability for motorists.

Alan Ward, head of corporate ICT practice at BT said: “We see this exciting project as a means of establishing an open innovation environment to support the creation of M2M and IoT applications across a whole city.”

Commenting on the collective benefit of the data harnessed through smart city services, Snelson added: “We need to improve the business case for many of these applications.

“Local authorities across the nation need to pull together this information because there will be mutual interest.”