7th April 2011

Learn more about the GeoVation finalists

Viv Alexander

Find out more about some of the great ideas selected to go forward to the GeoVation Showcase on 4 May.

Today, Cyclestreets describe their Crowd-sourced cycling solution idea, Neil Taylor of ITP tells us more about @ccessadvisR and you can read about mySociety’s Fix My Transport idea to alert authorities to small problems and get them fixed.

Three ideas were described on Tuesday and a further three yesterday.  If you want to see these and other ideas pitch for a slice of £150 000 funding from Ideas in Transit plus an award for the best use of OS OpenData register here for the GeoVation Showcase to be held at Ordnance Survey on 4 May.

Crowd-sourced cycling solutions
Cycling levels in the UK are low by continental standards. Despite recent cyclestreetsimprovements in places such as London and the Cycling Demonstration Towns, cycling remains the exception not the norm. Fast traffic and little space allocated for cycling puts people off.

Yet, as shown abroad, there is huge potential to turn cycling into the pleasant, easy and safe activity that can help transform cities into efficient and wonderful places to live. Conditions need to be improved around the UK if we are to attract new people to start cycling.

Our proposal is for an extensive suite of tools that will assist cycling campaigners around the UK – people who are already enthused – to be more effective in their work. Despite the large scale of the problem, these groups are sadly often poorly-resourced.

Funded by GeoVation, our proposal will provide a powerful but easy-to-use web-based system to resource existing cycling advocacy groups much more effectively, combining the power of geography and the web. It will build on our existing Photomap of over 27,000 locations, bring in resources such as planning applications, collision statistics, and more. Crucially, it will provide resources and workflows specifically designed for the needs of the existing cycling advocacy community.

It will help them collect and catalogue these problems, prioritise them, and watch and respond to potential new problems/opportunities (e.g. planning applications). It will make discussion easier, will involve people who cycle through specific areas, and will focus debates to being solution-based, bringing in best-practice examples more easily.

In short, we want to help turn problems into well-argued solutions, and to help groups work productively with Local Authorities to see these solutions implemented.

Our proposal is backed by groups around the country, including the CTC, London Cycling Campaign and groups from Bristol to Edinburgh, Dublin to Cambridge.

@ccessadvisR

You might not be aware, but there are two transport networks in the UK.  One which 80% of the population can readily use and another, the accessible transport network, which the 10 million people who experience mobility impairments are able to use with greater ease.

logo1The process of planning and making journeys, particularly unfamiliar journeys, can be something of an ordeal for people with mobility impairments.  The main reason is that the smaller accessible transport network is often hidden, with little information to give travellers confidence that accessible transport features exist or work reliably.

Research we (ITP – www.itpworld.net) have undertaken on behalf of the Department for Transport reveals it is common for people with mobility impairments to ‘dry run’ an unfamiliar journey several days before they need to make it in order to reduce the uncertainty and anxiety they experience when making the journey for real.  Many people also piece together information from multiple web-based sources including journey planners, discussion forums, and street maps; placing considerable emphasis on peer-to-peer advice and recommendations.

@ccessadvisr will improve accessible transport information by bringing together disparate sources of pre-journey information on a single website.  We want to present accessible transport information on a map base using a simple set of search tools.  We want to enable a user community of people with limited mobility to rate accessible transport information and infrastructure features at transport stops/stations, on board transport vehicles, at their destinations and on specialised transport services.  A supporting Smartphone app will enable travellers to gather dynamic geo-coded content (images and videos) and blog about the quality of their accessible journey to give other people the confidence to make similar journeys.  We intend to work with UK mobility impairment groups to deliver this innovation and enhance our existing prototype, available at www.accessadvisr.co.uk/.

FixMyTransport – Anywhere!

Problem
It is hard for normal people to get the transport industry to make small and medium sized changes that would improve the travelling experience
It is uncool and scary for most people to become “Transport Campaigners”
It is too hard to register your complaints/wishes when you are actually using public transport.

Solution
A platform that has two distinct functions:
The ability to enable travellers to report small problems directly to transport companies to get them fixed
The ability to coax people who do not think of themselves as ‘activists’ or ‘campaigners’ over the edge into being micro-activists in relation to their own transport problems.
The ability to do both of the above at the location and time of the transport problem.

Work so far
FixMyTransport.com has been in development for a year, is currently in alpha testing. It makes use of NAPTAN, NPTDR and OS Boundaries data to create database of the location of every transport route and stop in the country and linked details of every company and authority that has responsibility for each of these.
The site enables users to swiftly and easily log problems, automatically routing them to the appropriate authority.
Furthermore it provides the tools to enable users to turn their problems into nascent campaigns

What GeoVation will enable
mySociety does not have the resources to develop a mobile application for FixMyTransport, only light re-work of the desktop website version for mobile access
GeoVation will enable the creation of a bespoke, cross-platform mobile application that leverages the inherent geolocation functionality of mobile devices.  In order to succeed the user interface needs to be simple, beautiful, intuitive and swift to use when on the move.

Route en Route. This idea from Matthew Somerville (@Dracos) and Anna Powell-Smith is for a simple, streamlined integrated mobile journey planner.