5th November 2015

Challenge: Up, up and away we Deep Dive

Gauri Kangai

November 2015 sees the launch of Geovation’s ninth Challenge focused on the global water crisis.

As the foundation to Geovation, as we now know it – with its public Hub in central London open to location-data based enterprise and its accelerator Geovation Programme – the Challenge has its roots since 2009, at the beginning of Ordnance Survey’s open data journey.

Under the mothership principle that geography has important relevance because everything happens somewhere and geography links people, place, processes (natural and man-made) and planet, Geovation Challenges invite open collaboration in developing local innovative solutions to globally recognised problems: whereby using geographic information can be a powerful tool to the solution, alongside design thinking and technology.

How can we improve water use in Britain, sustainably?’ is the question Innovation asks you all for this coming year’s Challenge. Recognising water crises experienced all over: too little water, too much water, poor water quality, ageing infrastructure or water use behavior; the Challenge aims to support development of a local innovative solution, which scaled up, can achieve sustainable change on the global too.

Diving deep enough to identify the water problems most in need of addressing, here, across Britain, to ensure the Challenge focuses on problems really worth solving, is an important initial stage to the Geovation Challenge. Building upon preliminary research, Geovation joined forces with the real water experts to tease out what water challenges keep them awake at night. On 27th October representatives from Environment Agency, Defra, water utilities and other national water stakeholders gathered at the Geovation Hub for a unique and valuable day of problem sharing and exploring. These stakeholder discussions have helpfully validated prior research as well as given useful steps for narrowing the priority focus of the Challenge. There has been other valuable engagement with water practitioners at the heart of some of the identified problem themes .  These include joining the Rivers Trust communities at their Catchment Based Approach workshops and discussion forums, as well as touching base with water problems and innovation on the global scale at Cranfield University’s 2015 Water Alumni Conference and the annual Lorch lecture, which gained insight to research by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s own water initiative.

Problem themes that the Geovation Challenge aims to focus on will be captured from all these grounded research insights and published ready for the Challenge launch, ready to inspire ideas. Open contributions to the research problem framing will be welcome and encouraged throughout the Challenge. Look out for the Geovation Water Challenge Deep Dive output and keep up to date with the Geovation Challenge Launch!