22nd January 2013

Last week’s GeoSurgery a great success…

Luke Hampson


Last week, we held our first GeoSurgery of the year at the Google Campus, a venue that’s located in the heart of east London’s Tech City cluster. The GeoSurgery was open to anyone to come along and discuss their project with our resident GeoDoctor. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “everything happens somewhere” (we’ve used it before, here on the blog) well, that’s something that we champion here within the GeoVation team. We believe that location-based information is playing an increasing part in many aspects of modern day society and it’s no surprise therefore, that so many web and mobile developers will have an interest in a location element whilst developing their product/service offering.

The GeoDoctor talked to around a dozen developers throughout the day, each one of them developing products and services for which location is an integral part of the offering. We had one discussion with a new business start-up called Locatable. Locatable’s business idea is to create a web-based service that makes it easier for people to decide exactly where they want to live when moving house. Sounds like a relatively simple idea doesn’t it? Well here’s the clever bit…

Locatable aim to make this decision even easier for the end user, by combining different sources of open data such as transports, schools, crime and house prices etc. By combining different datasets, Locatable allow a user to find locations that satisfy all of their requirements – displaying the finished result on a heat map. So, if you work in central London for example, but decide you want to live outside of the capital – Locatable will show you where you could commute from within any given commuting time. I tested one such scenario through their system (which is still in development) and this created the below map which displays all places that can be reached from Central London within 1 hour by train.

Heat map

Locatable is one of the startups being supported by the Open Data Institute (ODI), who champion the use of open data and are aiming to catalyse the evolution of an open data culture to create economic, environmental, and social value. Working together, Locatable hope to make it simpler for the 11 million people in the UK who move home every year to access open data and help inform their decisions. We talked about which OS OpenData products they might potentially find useful to incorporate within the offering; as well as suggesting an additional licensed product they could potentially use (Points of Interest) in the future.

The GeoDoctor also had an interesting conversation with another developer who is currently building a smartphone app that aims to capitalise on the concept of “social gifting”. Social gifting is one of the latest fashions gathering pace in retail, where people use social networks to buy gifts for each other. Once again, location is an integral part of the idea and the developer was keen to hear how OS OpenSpace (Ordnance Survey’s web mapping API) and OS OpenData might enrich the offering further.

GeoDoctor in action

Finally, the event provided a further opportunity to promote our OS OpenData developer competition; where an Apple® iPad 64GB is up for grabs along with five runner up prizes who will each win a VIP day at Ordnance Survey’s headquarters in Southampton. We’re inviting all OS OpenData users to tell us how they’re using OS OpenData and which datasets they find particularly useful and why. The competition is open to all OS OpenData users, so for more information about the competition and to enter please click here.

We’re planning to deliver more GeoSurgery events throughout 2013, so if you have any suggestions about which format these should take or what you would like to see at future sessions – please drop us a line to let us know.