London’s Smart Village


We want to create and support urban ecosystems that nourish entrepreneurship and innovation – that look to the future retaining the best from the past – providing opportunity and development for all.

While areas of Camden are becoming more affluent – can human centric and design led approaches ensure that the increasing use of deep technology to support communities enhances social and economic cohesion rather than erodes it?

The project is innovative in its approach to collaborative design thinking; working with the well established Primrose Hill Community Association, and the new local and London-wide technology startup community. We will help familiarise each with the other; building trust and respect, increasing understanding, narrowing rather than exacerbating economic divisions.

35% of Camden’s homes are for Social rent. The Primrose Hill Community Centre will be the hub for human-centred design – the range of community activities and engagement helping to ensure that participants are not ‘the usual suspects’, but representative.

Primrose Hill needs to continue to address the perception that it is societally exclusive by actively breaking down division and social polarisation.

Our long term long-term vision for the smart village is to foster happy communities by integrating innovative digital solutions that further community engagement and help residents make better use of city data; making this part of London the most efficient, seamless, safe and impactful experience for residents and visitors.

At the same time, community led data and deep technology informed innovations will provide development and employment opportunities for a wide range of residents showcasing the real time data across the public places and interactive web and mobile apps. 

Through human-centred design, engaging with the community on their terms and in their places, we will ensure that we address complex problems through simple intuitive solutions, integrated seamlessly with the physical world by testing in the virtual world using augmented, mixed and virtual reality.

Primrose Hill is a beautiful place with some of the best panoramic views of London; the community’s experience of the virtual and augment reality world should enhance rather than degrade this, providing interactive and educational activities like time travel showcasing history of London and treasure hunt.  

Magic Village London Project summary

Can we help reduce social and economic division in Primrose Hill by involving people from across the community in solving real-world problems together – using deep technology and data?

Camden’s Community Cohesion data review (2016/17) states that:

Primrose Hill is an established community scoring low on the index of multiple deprivation, the overall IMD score for Camden has reduced in 115 (86%) of the 133 LSOAs.

The 18 LSOAs where deprivation has intensified are not clustered but correlate to areas of majority social housing. If there is segregation in Camden, it is not primarily along ethnic or spatial dimension lines – rather tenure and income are the largest factors – segregation is economic.

Primrose Hill is well placed to act as a laboratory; hosting technology and data experiments designed to intersect seamlessly with inclusive, cohesive, easy and welcoming real-world experiences.

We seek to:

  • Involve an inclusive group of the Primrose Hill community in solving real world problems – using deep technology – prioritising this issues affecting the minority of residents that are vulnerable – respecting, listening and focusing on their own ideas and solutions.

  • Reduce social and economic division – as well as providing development and job opportunities in the sought after fields of deep technology and data.

  • Experiment with the implementation of sensors and data using machine learning to enhance wellness – measuring and evaluating qualitative sentiment data (anger, stress, freedom, tranquility) as well as hard scientific data (air quality / noise measurements / crowds / violent crime).

The Magic Village concept formed through a first discovery phase of human-centered design, with a consortium of community organisations based in Primrose Hill – in collaboration with The Primrose Hill Community Association and Transition Primrose Hill. Trustees of which want the community to be – at the human level – smart, happy and modern.

Divergent thinking has uncovered a range of Smart City (Smart Street or Smart Village) technologies from across the UK and Europe – working with the Brixton pound to validate local Blockchain Token, the footfall tool – tailored for use in a village environment which can be analysed, evaluated, fine-tuned and built upon, just to name a few. This amplification and hybridisation, combined with fresh innovations, will deliver a coherent proof of concept that enhances virtual and real-world experiences – resonating across the full breadth of Primrose Hill.


We will use IDEO’s human-centered design methodology – tailored and simplified as a set of problem-solving techniques to involving a diverse set of stakeholders.

Human-Centred Research and Design

Our initial divergent data research phase consisted of meetings and workshops at the Primrose Hill Community Association – a hub engaging the widest possible range of local residents.

The research team will be guests of the community centre and residents’ group activities in order to carry out quantitative and qualitative research – recording stories, synthesising the information gathered and designing the prototype solutions.

For the solutions to be lead by the experts – those experiencing the problems – engagement of a diverse and representative community group will be critical. Testing engagement methodology and utilising appropriate organisation will help achieve this.

Collaborative Objective Framing

The opportunities will be inspired by Smart Cities examples previously identified, and framed during regular community events and workshops – the convergent phase of human-centered design.

A circular series of “Co-Creation” workshops will allow incorporation of issued faced by real people, complimented with ethnographic research to frame objectives empathetically.

The views of ‘extreme users and experts’ will be more highly weighted, to ensure that community members with specific needs have them met.

Public sector and commercially available datasets will be cross-referenced with newly gathered sensor data and opened to the community so that residents and technology providers work in partnership to develop responsive on-line tools, wearable sensors and other user interfaces for public use.

The wide range of ideas will be prioritised into 3-5 themes using HCD drafting and capture techniques focusing on patterns, revelations, new perspectives, and insights that have changed opinions and states.

Rapid testing and improvement of ideas

Our technology partners will be taken through divergent and convergent development activities, in partnership with residents, to express their concepts in a tangible form. Group activities will include paper prototyping and outcome capture sessions for feedback to be incorporated in a streamlined way.

We will use storytelling tools like virtual reality video and podcasts including the live internet radio as a communication tool in addition to traditional case studies, reports, and live demonstrations.

We will evaluate the impact of the project using statistically valid methods, informed by our evaluation methodology and Expert. These will be reported using refined data visualisation techniques. All our findings will be openly available for use by citizens, future product and service designers, R&D procurement staff and local government workers.

For the full white paper please contact [email protected]