18th August 2015

Geovey: what happened next

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A guest blog from Dave Barter of Geovey, one of the winners of our Housing Challenge, on Geovey’s progress since receiving their first stage funding.

After the excitement of winning funding for Geovey we’ve had to come back down to earth with a “bang” , as the reality of delivering our vision hits home. It’s tempting to think of funding as the end of all your problems: surely you just hand it all to someone else and the work gets done?

If only life were so easy. Within our small business we were already burning the midnight candle in order to deliver our existing commitments. To bring the Geovey concept alive we had to create a number of technology components that allowed users to share their map based ideas with others. This included integration with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter along with a commenting system tightly integrated with the map and location aware.

We decided that it would be a mistake to rush into the development of these new modules straightaway and spent time investigating a wide range of third party toolkits along with prototyping our own approaches. At one point we were close to choosing an externally hosted solution until we carefully read their user terms and realised that they worked against our plan to make Geovey open and free to any individual. Weeks of prototyping later allowed us to arrive at a point where we knew exactly how to architect Geovey and we’ve used this analysis along with a wide range of user discussions we’d had in order to write the “Geovey specification”.

This document encompasses everything that we plan to deliver in order to successfully meet the criteria of the Venture Plan agreed with Ordnance Survey. It’s going to be continuously maintained as we evolve the service and gain feedback from our pilot users. Looking through it made us realise that there was a LOT of work to be done in order to develop and test the service, even when released as a limited local pilot. We unsuccessfully attempted to purchase more hours in the day but were fortunate enough to become reacquainted with Paul.

Paul is a programmer that both Richard and I had worked with for many years previously and he was looking for a new challenge. We passed the Geovey specification under his nose and he had a good sniff at it. Fortunately for us it did not smell too bad and Paul has now joined us in order to help bring the idea to reality. This would not have happened without the funding we’ve received. Here he is in his natural environment, surrounded by monitors and javascript code:

Paul, who is assisting work on Geovey

The funding has also opened other doors for us beyond computer code. Both Richard and I are artistically challenged, as will be confirmed by our helpers from the Geovation camp weekend along with our desperate scrawls on the whiteboard. We need a brand for Geovey that reflects its aims and ambitions and whilst we both have ideas, there’s no way we’ll be able to get them across to users without some design wizardry. Fortunately the stage funding has also provided for the use of a freelance designer, Kate, who is working away on a brand for us that we hope to reveal soon.

This does not mean that Richard and I have got off the hook. We’re still beavering away on server side components to manage the engine that will power Geovey. But the involvement of Paul and Kate means we’re able to dedicate more time on these tasks. As a result we should have our first iteration ready for user feedback in September: exciting times!

Dave Barter (dave@nautoguide.com), August 13th 2015