ConnectMK – Living Lab for Milton Keynes

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Steven Jewell Head of IT & E-Government - Milton Keynes Council, UK +44 1908

Effective member: 

In 2007 MK Council formed Connect MK Ltd, a trading virtual ISP and an organisation leading on Digital inclusion in MK; working UK wide in partnership with the DC10 Plus Group, promoting digital inclusion and collaborating with European partners. (see and

Description of Concept

The concept of ConnectMK – the Living Lab for Milton Keynes – is to develop an open innovation platform, promoting social cohesion through the reduction and ultimate elimination of digital exclusion within the city. ConnectMK works with the DC10 Plus Group and undertakes research and the design/implementation of practical solutions giving individual citizens, families and SME businesses access to technologies, services and skills. Digital exclusion is only one dimension of social exclusion in Milton Keynes, but is the specific focus of the ConnectMK LLab. Digital exclusion in the city has several features, including:  

- fast growth in the city attracts high-tech companies. Employment levels are generally high.  But prosperity is not uniform across the city. Fifteen areas of the city are within the 20% most deprived areas of England, with significant levels of poverty and unemployment

- take-up of digital services is poor among communities with relatively poor English language skills or from cultures with less tradition of technology-based services

- people from minority communities, older people, and women in some communities can lack confidence in using digital technologies,

- some citizens are disadvantaged by specific disabilities, with chronic health problems (eg MK has a high prevalence of respiratory diseases (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases - COPD)

- despite the high growth rate of the city and its success in attracting new citizens and businesses, the coverage of high quality broadband services is very patchy. 

References and Track Record

- The ConnectMK LL comprises four main stakeholder groups, 

- Research and Academia:

The UK’s Open University located in MK - YVONNE ROGERS Professor of Human-Computer Interaction, JOSIE TAYLOR Professor & Acting Director - Institute of Educational Technology, BASHAR NUSEIBEH Professor and Director of Research in Computing

- Developers and Technology Providers:

Adepteq Change Management Consultants,  Microsoft UK/the Unlimited Potential Initiative and FREEDOM4 wireless/WiMAX telecommunications services 

- UK Local Governments and Agencies:

Milton Keynes Council, The DC10 Plus Group, ConnectMK Ltd 

- User Communities and NGO’s:

Milton Keynes Council of Voluntary sector Organisations

ConnectMK is loaning out PC’s/laptops loaded with Microsoft Office (ConnectMK is a Microsoft MAR) and other software to MK citizens on means tested benefits, working with FREEDOM4 to introduce a new WiMAX wireless infrastructure across MK, supporting the MK Community alarm service and Tunstall Group/European partners introducing TeleHealth Devices, providing Avatars (via Creative Virtual) and opening Digital Service Centres. Research and new initiatives are undertaken to remove digital infrastructure barriers, improve the usability/accessibility of e-services, increase access to e-learning and e-skills, improve well being and enable independent living.