A Smart City is a place where people, companies and local authorities have access to a shared technological infrastructure to support efficient services, optimise the use of resources and improve quality of life. The MK:Smart project has for objective to create such an infrastructure, both as a way to support economic growth in Milton Keynes and to demonstrate the value of intelligent data management and the Web of Things for innovation in a Smart City.

The project, which involves many different partners (including Milton Keynes Council and BT) is centred around the development of the MK Data Hub, a data platform for sharing, curating and analysing data from a large variety of sources within the city. The need for such a platform comes from the observation that, more and more, different stakeholders in a town such as Milton Keynes require to manipulate information of very diverse natures and origins: from statistics about the different areas of the town, to real time sensor data or social media data.

The research and development activities in KMi therefore focus mostly on one key question: How to create a data infrastructure which puts in common all the complex aspects of data management and make data jointly exploitable for innovation? This involves looking at the technological and methodological aspects of dealing with highly diverse data [1,2], including the need for new approaches for data integration [3], cataloguing and policy management [4,5] and data quality [6].

One of the very interesting point of the MK Data Hub however is that it is more than a research platform for us to explore the type of technologies needed to deal with city data and innovation: It is a live, running system used to create innovative applications. Indeed, even if the MK Data Hub has only been made publicly accessible very recently, it already counts more than 300 registered users and many applications are being developed that directly rely on it.

The MK:Smart project is developing several of these applications in three focus areas: Transport (with the mobility map), Energy (with several initiatives around electric vehicles and demand shifting) and Water (including the Water Monitor and Garden Monitor applications). In KMi, we are also working with a number of local SMEs to create innovative, data-intensive processes ranging from analysing data from educational sessions, to semantic search in radio broadcasts and predicting the need for maintenance on key infrastructure equipment (i.e. water pumps). In addition, we are engaged in a specific collaboration with Milton Keynes Council to enhance availability of their own data, through re-designing the MK Intelligence Observatory portal (under the name MK Insight) so that it benefits directly from the innovative features of the MK Data Hub that are coming out of KMi’s research.

Through some of these initiatives, we can also start seeing how people, and especially the citizens of Milton Keynes, can find different ways to relate to their city through data. For example, as part of Milton Keynes International Festival (IFMK 2016), we commissioned (with the Stables and funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England) a temporary art installation: Ground Resistance. In this project, artists Wesley Goatley and Georgina Voss created an immersive visual and sonic experience where audiences can watch city data, with sounds responding live to the data. This provides a unique way for people in Milton Keynes to look at their own town, reflect on what it means to be a Smart City and see how Milton Keynes appears through the data that it generates. This installation was made possible through putting together data from a number of partners and providers, including Western Power Distribution, Samsung (for smart energy meters) and Anglian Water, and managing these data within the MK Data Hub.

Many other initiatives should appear in the next few months that are made possible because of the availability of the MK Data Hub. Beyond Milton Keynes, the next step is to broaden the applicability of our Data Hub technologies. We are already reusing several of the components of the MK Data Hub as part of the AFEL project and the Data Science Group. Our objective here is to offer those components to town councils and other organisations as solutions to the management and innovative exploitation of highly diverse data.

[1] d’Aquin, Mathieu, John Davies, and Enrico Motta. “Smart Cities’ Data: Challenges and Opportunities for Semantic Technologies.” IEEE Internet Computing 19, no. 6 (2015): 66-70.

[2] d’Aquin, Mathieu, Alessandro Adamou, Enrico Daga, Shuangyan Liu, Keerthi Thomas, and Enrico Motta. “Dealing with diversity in a smart-city datahub.” In Proceedings of the Fifth International Workshop on Semantics for Smarter Cities-Volume 1280, pp. 68-82. CEUR-WS. org, 2014

[3] Adamou, Alessandro, and Mathieu d’Aquin. “On requirements for federated data integration as a compilation process.” Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on Using the Web in the Age of Data (USEWOD ’15) and the 2nd International Workshop on Dataset PROFIling and fEderated Search for Linked Data (PROFILES ’15)

[4] Daga, Enrico, d’Aquin, Mathieu, Adamou, Alessandro, and Motta, Enrico. Addressing exploitability of Smart City data, in Proceedings of the  IEEE International Smart Cities Conference (ISC2) 2016 (to appear)

[5] Daga, Enrico, Mathieu d’Aquin, Aldo Gangemi, and Enrico Motta. “Propagation of Policies in Rich Data Flows.” In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Knowledge Capture, p. 5. ACM, 2015. K-CAP 2015 Best paper award nominee

[6] Liu, Shuangyan, Mathieu d’Aquin, and Enrico Motta. “Towards linked data fact validation through measuring consensus.” In Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Linked Data Quality co-located with 12th Extended Semantic Web Conference (ESWC 2015), Portoroz, Slovenia. 2015.


MK:Smart and the MK Data Hub
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