Explore the role of technology and data in cities, and learn how you can participate in the creation of smart cities.

42,543 enrolled on this course

A photograph of London at night – an example of smart cities
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Find out what it’s like to create, develop and live in a smart city

On this online course, you’ll hear from smart city innovators, entrepreneurs, leaders, communities and businesses.

You’ll explore what it’s like to live in a smart city, and the role of systems thinking, living labs, open data, crowdsourcing and roadmaps in them. You’ll debate challenges of privacy, ethics and security, and weigh up the value of leadership, standards and metrics. You’ll learn how to co-create a smart city project where you live.

The course has been developed as part of MK:Smart – a £16 million collaborative smart city initiative, supporting the economic growth of Milton Keynes.

Download video: standard or HD

What topics will you cover?

• Week 1: The course starts by examining what smart cities are, exploring the contrasting visions of how they will transform our urban environments and lives, and considers whether smart cities can be sustainable.

• Week 2: Looks at the role of people in smart cities and different approaches cities are taking from city led roadmaps, to business smart technology services, to solutions co-designed with citizens through living labs.

• Week 3: Examines the role that technology, data and urban analytics can play in transforming cities and considers challenges such as data ownership, privacy and ethics.

• Week 4: Explores the connections between urban innovation, enterprise and future smart city business models, looking at who will finance the smart city.

• Week 5: Considers the importance of city leadership and governance in developing smart cities, exploring the role of different stakeholders, as well as policy and standards.

• Week 6: The final week investigates the opportunities and barriers cities face in becoming smart and whether progress is being made. Students reflect on what they have learnt and are signposted to further learning opportunities.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore and understand the concepts and current debates around smart, sustainable and future cities
  • Identify and recognise the role and importance that ICT, data and urban analytics can play in addressing key urban challenges and key issues related to this
  • Explain and be aware of the importance of leadership and governance in creating smart cities and the role of different stakeholders including government, local authorities, business, universities and communities
  • Explore different approaches to involving citizens in smart cities and planning for future cities
  • Apply and consider the connections between urban innovation, enterprise and future smart city business models

Who is the course for?

This course is intended for anyone with an interest in the application of new technologies to city challenges and smart city solutions. It does not require any prior experience of studying the subject.

Who will you learn with?

Lead Educator of The Open University's Smart Cities MOOC & OU Associate Lecturer teaching Environmental Sciences.

Professor of Computing at the Open University with a research interest in Smart Cities, Internet of Things, Data Science and Human-Centered Computing.

Who developed the course?

The Open University

As the UK’s largest university, The Open University (OU) supports thousands of students to achieve their goals and ambitions via supported distance learning, helping to fit learning around professional and personal life commitments.

  • Established

  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Endorsers and supporters

supported by

Higher Education Funding Council For England logo

supported by


Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLsmart19 to talk about this course on social media.