Minister praises Milton Keynes Open University’s contribution to MK:SMART

The Minister of State (Cities & Constitution) Rt Hon Greg Clark MP has praiseed Milton Keynes Open University’s involvement in MK:SMART.

As the Minister responsible for cities and co-chair of the Smart Cities Forum, he has a keen interest in MK:SMART – the initiative led by the OU that will see Milton Keynes benefit from a £16million project to develop new ways of managing the city’s key infrastructure to drive sustainable economic growth.

The discussion focused on how MK:SMART is developing capabilities to analyse large volumes of data about the use of water, energy and transport infrastructure, helping to remove barriers to growth and with potential to sell this expertise overseas.
Speaking about his visit, Mr Clark said: “The Open University is undertaking some inspirational work that aims to have far reaching benefits both socially and economically.

“Its involvement with MK:SMART will firmly fix the eyes of the world on what can be achieved through partnerships between academic institutions, local authorities and businesses and the potential impact of FutureLearn is very exciting not least for widening access to higher education in the UK but also internationally.”

Milton Keynes is predicted to grow significantly, with the potential to create more than 40,000 new jobs over the next 15 years.

However this growth could outstrip the capacity of the city’s transport and water infrastructures, while energy companies are facing challenging carbon reduction targets.

Being able to develop ‘smart’ solutions to these problems requires significant capability in terms of modelling and analysis of ‘big data’.

Rajay Naik, the OU’s director of government & external affairs said: “Today has been a great opportunity to update Greg on the project and its partners and keep MK at the forefront of the Smart Cities initiative.

“Given his time working in our Business School, Greg also has a deep passion for educational opportunity and skills development so the visit has allowed him to see some of our most innovative, engaging and effective teaching, research and student support.”

Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South welcomed the ministerial visit and said: “Milton Keynes is playing a vital role in the research of development of smarter and more sustainable cities.

“Mr Clark’s visit is testament to this and recognition of the work being undertaken by the OU and its partners.”

Mark Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes North added: “Being just one of five locations to be invited onto the Smart Cities forum firmly places Milton Keynes and the work of the MK:Smart partners in the spotlight.”

Milton Keynes is playing a pivotal role in the Government’s Smart Cities Forum, and was praised by David Cameron during PM Questions earlier this month.

Story: MK