28th December 2015

Innovation to improve water use behaviour? Water for thought this festive season…

Sarah Stead

The 2015-16 Geovation Challenge calls for open innovation in water management:

‘How can we better manage water use in Britain, sustainably?’

Among the current festivities we turn our attention to water use behaviour, one of our five problem focus themes of the Challenge. Our very own Sarah Stead from Ordnance Survey gives us some ‘[water] for thought’…

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so crooned Andy Williams. Right now, you’re probably reading this whilst either; a) sipping a cuppa; b) waiting for the kettle to boil or; c) having just finished doing the washing up from a previous round of drinks and deliberately trying to avoid eye contact for fear of a conversation starting?

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“We have all heard of the power surge that the National Grid cope with each year as the nation moves as one into the kitchen to make the whole family a hot drink. But what about the number of taps turning on, filling the kettles and being poured into mugs? How much water is that? How much of it actually gets drunk? That must be quite a lot of wastage. We don’t have the answers, I’m afraid, but it’s quite a scary thought.

“What about the washing up? We all know how messy that pile of pans, trays, plates, cutlery and glasses is. All that grease being washed away… we probably change the sink water at least three times in my house (we are in the shrinking number of houses without a dishwasher – but it does make the washing up more of an occasion I suppose!). For those with dishwashers it may still be a couple of loads.

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“Each year it’s the same routine and we go through the motions without ever really considering them. This year maybe it’s time to make a change? If the average UK person on an average day uses 150 litres of water, then how much could that increase to over the festive period? Simple things like doubling up the pans for the veg or only running your dishwasher with a full load could make all the difference.”

If this inspires you to think of an idea for the Geovation Challenge, find out more about what we are looking for and the other problem themes and enter your ideas on the Geovation Challenge online by 27 January 2016 (12 noon).

Ideas identified for their potential impact will be invited to a Geovation Weekend Camp from 4-6 March 2016, where you will be asked to work on transforming your idea into a prototype venture. You will also identify how to overcome problems in implementing your idea and learn to pitch your idea ‘pecha kucha’ style to the independent judging panel.  See the timetable Those selected to be invited into a 12 month funded Geovation Programme will be announced at the end of this camp.

We are delighted to be collaborating with Environment Agency, DEFRA (whose release of thousands of open data sets coincides with the Geovation Challenge), Southern Water, and United Utilities on this Geovation Challenge.

Our challenges are open to UK-based organisations and/or UK residents aged 18 or over and we encourage entrepreneurs, developers, geographers, community groups, and innovators to enter