27th January 2015

GeoVation Camp as an OS helper


About a week back, in mid January, GeoVation held its eighth challenge at the Ordnance Survey Head Office, when nine teams arrived to develop and pitch their ideas.

As I’m a pretty recent addition to the GeoVation team, having started in November, all of my work focus has been on preparing for this event. It was great to see everything come together — with no real problems apart from the weather, which prevented one of the teams from making it to camp — and the atmosphere was very positive, energetic and idealistic, which is one of my favourite kinds of working environment. If there was any blood/sweat/tears involved in the run-up to camp (which I would never admit to) the weekend made up for all of it.

There were between 70 and 80 people in attendance. (We lost one team to the bad weather in Scotland.) Each of the teams were supported by a Land Registry staff member, a designer from London College of Communications, and at least one Ordnance Survey staff member. Having spent weeks coordinating the submission and organisation of team/helper photographs, I had a vast headstart in learning everyone’s names. I did not have the opportunity to tell everyone that their photographs did not do them justice.

I was assigned to Democratising Development, comprising of Andy Reeve and Joyjit Sarkar, whose idea involved combining disused areas of land with WikiHouse principles. Joy and Andy are doing a lot of interesting work in Birmingham — such as at Impact Hub Birmingham — and I look forward to following them.

This being my first camp event, I wasn’t fully sure what to expect — I’d been told it was intense, busy, tiring, and fun. Perhaps because the event preparation had been quite intense, I didn’t find the weekend at all tiring. I was busy, because I was simultaneously involved in supporting Democratising Development’s idea development, photographing the teams, editing those photographs, and managing the social media streams. By Sunday, everything felt a lot more emotional than seemed fair, given that I wasn’t competing myself; however, as Democratising Development were one of the successful teams, my emotions got out relatively unscathed.

Helpers at GeoVation Camp

Much of the information provided for the teams, particularly on presentations and business models, was hugely helpful to me as well. I understand why so many former helpers from Ordnance Survey return each year.

One of my only regrets was that I didn’t get much chance to speak to the other teams involved. I had a little more of an opportunity between the pitches and the judges’ announcements, in which time we held a paper aeroplane contest. (Mine went about as far as it could go without going backwards — I found that I’d forgotten how to make paper aeroplanes and went on to make a few origami birds, presumably just to prove that I could. They were even more flightless.)

I’m looking forward to supporting the teams further as they develop their venture plans and after. And, because I’m terrible at seizing opportunities for a well-earned reprieve, I’m looking forward to preparing for the next challenge and (I hope) to being able to help at the next GeoVation Camp.

Helpers at GeoVation Camp

It was my first time at the GeoVation Camp. I had an fabulous weekend working as an OS helper. I met lots of amazing people, shared my knowledge about OS data and also learnt a lot. I feel so proud of my team who are one of the winners. I can’t wait till the next camp and new challenges. — Iza, Products & Innovation

From Friday evening, where all the innovators gathered and met for the first time, through to the climax on Sunday afternoon, where all the teams pitch their ideas, it was both fascinating and inspiring. Having worked with many of the teams over the course of the weekend, it was rewarding to see how far they had all come, having been through the GeoVation Camp process. — Luke, Products & Innovation