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Urban Living Birmingham supports a greener, smarter city

The Greener, Smarter Communities and Cities Geovation Challenge is focussed on developing solutions to communities’ real needs for future-proofing the communities and cities in which we live. Geovation sees ‘smart communities’ as placing people first, with technology, simply, as one ingredient.

Joined by our lead sponsors, Innovate UK and Northumbrian Water, the Geovation Challenge launched on 4th October and is open to idea entries until noon 29th November 2017.

The Geovation Challenge is focussing on four problem areas that we are asking for your ideas on:

How can we improve health and wellbeing?

How can we support the local economy?

How can we enable sustainable living?

How can we enhance the natural environment?

Our enthusiasm to tackle these challenge areas is supported by many others who are committed to addressing similar challenges, including Greenspace Scotland, Glasgow City Council, Exeter City Futures, Green Halo, Bristol Natural History Consortium, Oxford County Council, and Urban Living Birmingham.

In this blog we explore how the research project is striving for solutions to these problems, and how those with interests in the Birmingham City area can work with Urban Living Birmingham to build ideas suitable for the Geovation Challenge.

Urban Living Birmingham is a research initiative with the aim of stimulating innovation to develop and deliver integrated, city-wide solutions that “have the potential to transform the city into a prosperous, healthy and vibrant living place”. Similar to Geovation’s formula for successful innovation – whereby this depends on finding a real problem, building a viable solution to it, and executing it sustainably with prospect to scale – a city-wide problem for Birmingham was identified:

“Appetite for innovation in the development and delivery of Birmingham’s services is high, but the degree of success and ability to integrate these innovations into mainstream strategies and policies varies greatly. Therein lies the paradox, and it has become evident that there is a missed opportunity for Birmingham, and British cities more generally, to co-innovate by effectively drawing upon end-users.”

Urban Living Birmingham is a consortium of universities led by the University of Birmingham and including Birmingham City University, Aston University and the University of Warwick. Those involved come from engineering, economics, psychology, planning and governance backgrounds, amongst other disciplines, and they are working alongside practitioners from the private and public sectors within Birmingham and its wider region.

The Geovation Challenge shares key problem themes that Urban Living Birmingham has researched, including equity of access to health services, simultaneously creating a smart and a green city, transport and barriers to city mobility, and transforming governance for multiple innovation processes – overall, focussing on a city that can be liveable and sustainable.

Sharing Geovation principles of open innovation and a people-first approach, the Urban Living Birmingham consortium is committed to encouraging the design and implementation of solutions to Birmingham’s challenges that go beyond the standard ‘user-centric’ approach. They think it is not enough to simply listen to the users of city services, but that the users themselves should be empowered to be the innovators of the solutions. Such an approach contributes to a more resilient Birmingham that, ultimately, provides better outcomes for people.

Under the Health and Wellbeing theme, the Geovation Challenge places strong emphasis on empowering community action. We have deep-dived into this problem space, finding that ignoring basic community needs leads to lack of care and of quality of spaces and city facilities. Engagement with, and ownership of, spaces and facilities is needed by every community, with powerful, joined up data to ensure they are fit for purpose, receive the right investment and are sustainable. Research shows that community ownership of spaces, services and activities leads to 75% greater engagement by citizens, helping to leverage stronger cases for financial investment which local authorities are otherwise not wholly able to do (Locality, 2016). As well as the need to integrate those with local expert knowledge, participation from top-down influencers is also needed. Urban Living Birmingham is familiar with these problem spaces in Birmingham, and stresses the need for innovative solutions that cut across different policy silos.

With Urban Living Birmingham as experts in the problem space, Geovation can help support those who have entrepreneurial spirit to turn their idea into a serious business venture that is sustainable and scalable to help create greener, smarter communities and cities.

If you’re a UK start-up, or individual willing to team up, and want to help solve pressing issues with improving health and wellbeing, supporting the local economy, enabling sustainable living and enhancing the natural environment within cities whilst using location information, then the Geovation Challenge is perfect for you.

Winners of the Challenge will get an all-expenses-paid place at the 3-day Geovation Camp and Conference in London in February 2018. This Camp will equip you with the tools to build a sustainable business model and create a pitch to maximise your chance of success. There will be an opportunity to pitch for funding and a place on the Geovation Programme.

The dragons-den style Conference will give you an exclusive audience of investors and influential stakeholders in greener, smarter cities who are also interested in supporting your idea. The Geovation Challenges is the perfect accelerator to get your GeoTech business off the ground!

The Geovation Challenge is open to UK-based organisations or residents, aged 18 or over. The Geovation Camp and Conference takes place in London, 14-16 February 2018.

SUBMIT IDEA

Geovation Camp & Conference 2018

Are you sitting on an idea that could make our communities and cities more future-proof?  Would you like to create a real business and connect with the people to make this happen? We’re offering you an amazing opportunity to make this a reality through our latest Geovation Challenge focussing on Greener Smarter Communities.  Winners will be offered an all-expenses-paid place at a 3-day mini startup accelerator and conference, worth up to £8K per team, which will equip you will all you need to begin this journey.

At the Geovation Camp and Conference, you will get the chance to test your idea in the ideal environment for it to flourish and grow. You’ll connect with smart, passionate people and be exposed to the right tools and approaches to take the leap towards creating your company. During the intensive 2-day Camp, we will help you take your idea to new heights through the dizzying roller coaster experience. You’ll get to feel what its really like to be a start-up, testing your idea with mentors, business advisors and designers – and getting the benefit of their expertise to help you get your idea off the ground.

At the Conference on Day 3, you will be ready to pitch your idea to investors, funders, sponsors, policy-makers and community leaders – the very people who can work with you to make this happen. The sponsors of this challenge, Innovate UK and the Northumbrian Water Group will be on hand to support you throughout the 3 days.

 “Being part of Ordnance Survey, which has a rich history of collecting data, and producing really useful material with that data, there is clearly a rich resource [here] that people can use for innovation. Combined with what Geovation does, which is accelerating innovation, I think [the Geovation Challenge] is a powerful offer.” – Niraj Saraf, Urban Innovation Lead, Innovate UK

“I think the Geovation Challenge is a great opportunity to do the toughest part of innovation, in converting an idea into a reality. It’s going to have a really supportive process around it, which will help develop [your] idea and help incubate it. It’s a really great environment to get involved in.” – Clive Surman-Wells, Operations Solutions Manager, Northumbrian Water

At Geovation we firmly believe that by solving a worthwhile problem you’ll have the best advantage to succeed. Through funding or a place on Ordnance Survey’s start-up accelerator, the Geovation Programme, we support you every step of the journey, to learn essential skills and gain experience, until you’re ready to spread your wings as a fully-fledged start-up. Don’t miss out on this fabulous experience – enter the Geovation Challenge today!

To enter visit: https://geovation.uk/challenge/

The Challenge closes for applications on 29 Nov 2017 and is open to UK-based organisations or residents, aged 18 or over. The Geovation Camp and Conference takes place in London from 14-16 February 2018.

National Innovation Workshops Round-up

Prior to launching the Greener, Smarter Communities and Cities Challenge, we kicked off a national tour of innovation workshops to get people stimulated, looking for innovative solutions to how we can future-proof communities and cities, using smart technologies. We reached keen innovators in Exeter, Manchester and Glasgow and spoke to some lead representatives from our two sponsors, Innovate UK & Northumbrian Water Group. 

Each workshop explored problems and ideas, ensuring those who attended walked away with the knowledge to build their idea from start to finish, and learnt how to gain support through the Geovation Challenge. Hosted by Exeter City Futures, Manchester Science Park and Tontine Glasgow, and joined by our lead sponsors and Challenge supporters Greenspace Scotland and Glasgow City Council, there was plenty of enthusiasm on how we can make our communities and cities greener and smarter.

“Being part of Ordnance Survey, which has a rich history of collecting data, and producing really useful material with that data, there is clearly a rich resource that people can use for innovation. Combined with what Geovation does, which is accelerating innovation, I think the Geovation Challenge is a powerful offer.” – Niraj Saraf, Urban Innovation Lead, Innovate UK

“It was useful to hear wider thinking from the range of participants” – Exeter Workshop Participant

We were further infused with an inspiration of how small ideas can turn into start-up ventures that create meaningful, scalable impact in how our communities and cities can work more sustainably. We heard from leaders of local initiatives such as Transition Towns and REconomy – a movement of communities reclaiming the local economy through incubating citizen entrepreneurship; BinIt – enabling businesses with better, bespoke waste management solutions to increase value of products and resources throughout their life cycle; Greenspace Scotland – a social enterprise engaging key influencers to support sustainable management and access to quality green spaces in neighbourhoods, which contributed to the creation of Ordnance Survey Greenspace Data, launched this year.

Our workshop aimed to provide a toolkit to help participants focus and elevate any idea proposition, with the opportunity to discuss and dive deeper into the problem areas, service and business design questions, with our innovation experts on hand. Attendees came with varied backgrounds in the energy industry, social enterprise, sustainability consultancy, research, software and even mathematics. They were keen to explore ideas and collaborate with new people – exactly what the workshops were geared to facilitate.

We firstly delved into what we mean by ‘innovation’ and applied the Geovation formula, “Innovation = Problem x Solution x Execution” since we believe that successful innovation depends on building a viable solution to a real problem, and executed as a sustainable, scalable business.

“The exercises, problem analysis and stakeholder mapping tools were useful” – Manchester Workshop Participant 

“I think the Geovation Challenge is a great opportunity to do the toughest part of innovation, in converting an idea into a reality. It’s going to have a really supportive process around it, which will help develop [your] idea and help incubate it. You’re surrounded by people all the team who are like-minded, thinking innovatively and who are really supportive… it’s a really great environment to get involved in.” – Clive Surman-Wells, Operations Solutions Manager, Northumbrian Water

“Lots of ideas, thanks very much!” – Glasgow Workshop Participant 

Winners of the Geovation Challenge receive an all-expenses-paid place at our 3 day Geovation Camp and Conference in London in February 2018. This camp will equip you with the tools to build a sustainable business and create a pitch to maximise your chance of success. There will be an opportunity to pitch for funding or a place on the Geovation Programme, the perfect funded accelerator to get your GeoTech business off the ground.

Find out more & Enter the Challenge

Attend a workshop in Exeter, Manchester & Glasgow

Are you interested in how we can make our communities and cities more future-proof?  Would you like to develop an idea using smart technologies with the potential to build this into a sustainable business?

Our next Geovation Challenge 2017 is looking for innovative solutions that will help make our communities greener, smarter and sustainable. Entrants will be in with a chance of winning an all-expenses paid place at our 3-day Geovation Camp and Conference in London in February 2018.

To help you understand the problems and give you a head start in entering the competition, we’re holding workshops around Britain – workshops that could change your life and help save the planet!

Register for a workshop:  Exeter / Manchester /Glasgow

The Geovation Challenge process is fantastic. It has helped me to shape and elevate ideas into forming a commercially-viable company that is exporting services internationally and working with well-known brands and institutions. The process has also directly inspired, incubated and catalysed our innovative work to make London the world’s first NationalPark City’ Dan Raven-Ellison, Founder of London’s National Park City Foundation

Winners of the Geovation Challenge will be invited to an all-expenses paid place at our 3-day Geovation Camp and Conference in London in February 2018. This camp will equip you with the tools to build a sustainable business and create a pitch to maximise your chance of success.  There will be the opportunity to pitch for funding or a place on the  Geovation Programme, the perfect funded accelerator to get your GeoTech business off the ground.

The Challenge will open on 4 October 2017 and is open to UK-based organisations or residents, aged 18 or over.

Underground Assets Challenge: What happened at Camp?

Geovation’s 10th Challenge asked ‘How can we better manage our underground assets, in Britain?’

Through OS’ open innovation approach of the Geovation initiative, last summer 2016 the Geovation team began conducting rigorous “deep digging” to uncover and better understand the problems in underground asset management. Catapulting from a key problem-identifying “deep dig” session, which uniquely gathered cross-industry stakeholders together in one room, great insight was gained on the burning challenges in this problem space. (more…)

Challenge ideas invited to Geovation Camp

The Geovation Challenge judging panel have now selected a shortlist of five finalists, who have been invited to develop their ideas at a 2.5 day Geovation Camp. The ideas have been selected based on their ability to offer innovative solutions to the problems associated with managing underground assets and which have the potential to become commercially sustainable. The Geovation Camp, which is being sponsored by BGS, will be held at  Ordnance Survey in Southampton from 1-3 February 2017.

The finalists are…

GeoPharos: Know where you stand

Realising that outside of a technical office there exists a lack of knowledge of geological, geophysical and environmental risks which affect public and private assets, GeoPharos aims to create a map-based digital environment to aggregate, interpret and showcase these diverse range of datasets. Enabling citizens and stakeholders to check for environmental subsurface risk hotspots at different scales, this can help identify potential problems and management needs of both their underground and above-ground assets.

Routes to the Roots System

Aiding the prevention of damage to underground assets, ‘Routes to the Roots’ is a system for modelling existing and future tree root structure and growth, providing visualisation of how roots interact with underground assets, in a specific location. Insights gained can also be used to aid the selection of appropriate trees for planting in urban and peri-urban environments, meanwhile positively contributing to flood prevention in an area.

The Lie of the Land

Demystifying the lack of visibility of stakeholders for a given area – the ownership of land, its users, development potential and relation to the environment and geophysical properties – ‘Lie of the Land’ aims to make identification and communication easier between owners of underground assets and all interested parties. Through an open, web-based, location-driven portal, both open and commercial datasets will be leveraged to provide simple access to vital information about land, enabling better collaboration in infrastructure projects and reduced risk of damage to third party assets.

National Underground Register

Addressing a lack of access to detailed underground asset data, ‘National Underground Register’ intends to regularly obtain copies of utilities’ data on underground assets and translate into a location-based database. Through a permit authorised user access scheme with specialised 3D graphical software, and tablet and phone applications, this data can be better accessed and extracted.

Online mart providing maps showing utility underground assets

Addressing no online national mapping system to instantly show all underground utility assets to any interested party, ‘Online Mart’ proposes to build a one-stop online shop – publishing, selling and distributing maps of underground assets – and meanwhile creating a national repository of underground assets. Through additional provision of a mobile application for field workers, any inaccuracies or omissions can be fed back into the mapping platform and passed onto the relevant utility companies.

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The finalists will have the opportunity to learn about the essential components for innovation and work on transforming their ideas into prototype ventures. On the final day of camp they will pitch their ideas to the judging panel who will invite up to 3 teams to join the 12 month funded Geovation Programme.

Participants will also be able to vote for their favourite idea to receive the £1,000 Community Award prize.

You can read more about the ideas and continue to comment on them here

Feedback on previous Geovation Challenge Camps:

A once in a ‘project-lifetime’ experience, receiving in-depth scrutiny and expert guidance, being surrounded by innovation and design experts in an environment designed to bring out the best in your team and your idea. Absolutely brilliant.

Geovation is an excellent initiative and promoted a truly exceptional experience with real focus and a higher than usual dedication to achieving great results.  Well done to all involved, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to stretch themselves and achieve a better plan than they could have on their own.  A real testament to the power of teamwork!

 

Let the Geovation Challenge judging begin

Thank you all for responding to our call to help better manage underground assets in Britain in our latest Geovation Challenge. There have been some great ideas submitted between 19 October and 30 November 2016 and lots of people have registered and engaged on the Geovation Ideas Platform.

Now that the Geovation Challenge is closed the judging panel will start reading through the ideas to select finalists to invite to a 2.5 day Geovation Camp at Ordnance Survey in Southampton from 1-3 February 2017. See the timetable. We are delighted to be collaborating with BGS as sponsors of the Geovation Camp, find out more in this blog post by one of the judges Dr. Kathrine Royse “The importance of Geology in Underground Asset management

The panel will be looking for ideas that offer innovative solutions to the underground assets problems and which can become commercially sustainable. Alex Wrottesley, Head of Geovation is chairing the judging panel. Find out more about him and the panel below:


Alex Wrottesley, Head of Geovation

Alex Wrottesley, Head of Geovation

The Geovation Hub aims to deliver a new approach to stimulating growth in the geospatial industry by offering hands on support, education, workspace and development resource in a world-class location. With 18 years’ experience running media and technology businesses, Alex and his team help entrepreneurs and innovators create, build and grow new ventures that use spatial data and insight to deliver ground-breaking products and services.

 

 

 

Dr Alison Prendiville, Service Design for Innovation Expert

Dr Alison Prendiville, Service Design for Innovation Expert

An expert in the fields of service design, digital anthropology, creative economies and connected communities. Her PhD (2001) investigated the specification of engineering hardware in the design of public transport systems and the design of the passenger service experience. Alison was a researcher on the EU Framework IV Programme MIMIC (Modality, Inter-modality and Interchange) investigating transport interchanges and the barriers to the seamless journey.

 

 

 

Miranda Sharp, Head of Smart Cities Practice at Ordnance Survey

Miranda Sharp, Head of Smart Cities Practice at Ordnance Survey

At an international level OS is pioneering global interoperability smart cities through machine learning, as well as exploring the new fields of connected vehicles, IoT and 5G. Originally a chemist, Miranda has a personal interest in the measurement of air quality and its correlation with greenspace; but this is only one example of places becoming smart – adopting practical solutions for citizens, businesses and visitors united by place.

 

 

 

 

Dr Kathrine Royse, Science Director for GeoAnalytics and Modelling at the British Geological Survey (BGS)

Kathrine develops novel methods and techniques to gain added-value from BGS’s data holdings; using a trans-disciplinary approach to produce models that explain, explore and predict the Earth’s response to natural or human induced environmental change. Her research at BGS has focused around the development of 3D geological models for decision support and hazard mitigation in the urban environment.  She is a member of NERCs Innovation Advisory board providing advice on how best to translate environmental knowledge and data into new value adding approaches, tools and solutions.

 

 

 

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Matt Webb, Head of Asset Information at UK Power Networks

Matt is accountable for the end-to-end asset data and information lifecycle, including collection and capture, asset registers and geospatial systems management, data quality management and analytics. Prior to joining UK Power Networks in 2008, Matt operated in various management and leadership roles within the construction and building services sector. He is a highly experienced business and data management professional with a deep knowledge of business strategy and planning, as well as leading multi-site / multi-disciplinary teams.

 

 

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Jane Johnson Account Director, Energy and Infrastructure at Ordnance Survey

Jane works closely with key players in the energy and infrastructure sector, where OS geospatial data and services are an integral part of the effective management of all infrastructure including underground assets. The location and interoperability of data provides greater connectivity between assets and enables collaboration across functions, disciplines, and organisations.

 

 

 

 

 


The finalists who are selected will be informed by 16 December which will be announced on the blog in the following week.

The finalists who attend Geovation Camp will have the opportunity to work on transforming their ideas into prototype ventures. On the final day of camp they will pitch their ideas to the judging panel who will invite up to 3 teams to join the 12 month funded Geovation Programme.

BGS sponsoring Geovation Camp 2017

This is a guest blog post from Dr Katherine Royse, Science Director for GeoAnalytics and Modelling at the British Geological Survey (BGS).  The Directorate develops novel methods and techniques to gain added-value from BGS’s data holdings; using a trans-disciplinary approach to produce models that explain, explore and predict the Earth’s response to natural or human induced environmental change. Her research at BGS has focused around the development of 3D geological models for decision support and hazard mitigation in the urban environment.  She is a member of NERCs Innovation Advisory board providing advice on how best to translate environmental knowledge and data into new value adding approaches, tools and solutions.

The importance of Geology in Underground Asset management

At the British Geological Survey we are passionate about using our knowledge of the subsurface geology to enable sustainable economic development and the wise management of our natural resources. This is why we were keen to work with the Geovation team this year and sponsor the ‘Underground Assets’ challenge. What excites me most about this challenge is working with people from many different professional backgrounds to produce novel and innovative solutions to the current issues around asset management.

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The physical and chemical properties (the geology) of the ground beneath our feet is critically important when assessing the maintenance and performance costs of the UK’s underground assets. All too often the geology of the subsurface is missing from asset management decisions. At BGS we are really hoping that the ideas coming forward in this challenge will be able to help us put geological data at the heart of the decision making process for subsurface assets.

Why is this important? Well unexpected ground conditions cause around 33% of all major construction project overspends. Ground movements caused by changes in temperature and soil moisture (swell-shrink) cost around £300-500m each year in damage and maintenance costs to our subsurface infrastructure. These ground movements often result in pipe breakage causing issues from interrupting supply through to flooding and road closures.

Civil engineers and surveyors will always need to build structures and lay pipelines in difficult ground conditions and it is therefore essential to address the problems that result as management of these conditions are easier and cheaper to deal with at the time structures are buried than the remediation and maintenance costs post construction. For example corrosion prevention is often the most economical solution when compared with conventional removal and repair methods. This isn’t new, thirty seven years ago the ‘Hoar Report’ was commissioned to evaluate the cost of corrosion to the national economy of the UK. The report estimated the cost to be approximately 3-4% gross domestic product (GDP).

Since then the development of new construction materials and methods has reduced this cost to an estimated 2.5% – 3.5% GDP (DTI, 2000). Whilst corrosion is being managed more effectively today, it is still a significant concern and cost burden to the nation. In recent years, public and media interest has focused on the cost of leakage from water supply pipelines, but buried assets, whether pipe-work, cabling, sewers or building foundations, present their own challenges as problems are largely hidden from view and are difficult to assess and manage. This years Geovation challenge highlights the need for interdisciplinary work in this area and that the subsurface is every bit as important as the surface in critical infrastructure provision in the UK.

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National Workshops: Now on tour

We’ve teamed up with leading innovation agency, Nonon, and business and service design experts from London College of Communication and Natural Flow for a series of national Geovation Challenge Workshops. Kicking off the national tour at the Urban Innovation Centre in London last week, we’re traveling the UK looking for innovative solutions to how we can better manage our underground assets and to ensure that you walk away with the knowledge to build your idea from start to finish.

At our first workshop at the Geovation Hub in London last week, we worked with a group of fascinatingly diverse backgrounds – all keen to learn more about the Geovation Challenge. At the workshops we delve into what we mean by ‘innovation’ and apply the Geovation formula, “Innovation = Problem x Solution x Execution”. At Geovation, we believe that successful innovation depends on building a viable solution to a real problem, and executed as a sustainable, scalable business.

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Having teamed up with leading innovation agency, Nonon, and business and service design experts from London College of Communication and Natural Flow Consultancy, we explore each of these aspects, giving you a toolkit of preparatory resources to help you focus and elevate any idea proposition. The workshops give ample space for group discussion, questions, digging deeper into the problem areas of #whatliesbeneath, learning about current Geovation ventures, and even opportunity for team match-making.

Whether you take part in the Geovation Challenge or not, these workshops provide valuable insight into the essentials of starting your own business and developing location-based ideas; opportunity for networking; and how you can gain support from Geovation in other ways. Winners of the Geovation Challenge receive a place on the Geovation Programme, the perfect funded accelerator to get your GeoTech business off the ground.

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“Really helpful to find out more of what will happen at the Geovation Camp and how the Challenge application process works. It was also great to bounce ideas off other people and network with them.”

Register for a workshop: Manchester // Newport // Glasgow

Apply to the Challenge: APPLY NOW

The Challenge is open to UK-based organisations or residents, aged 18 or over.

From a simple idea to great innovation: the power of service design

What makes for great innovation? Many things. In Bill Gross’ 2015 Ted Talk, he draws on his experience of being a multi-time founder of dozens of start-ups, exploring what factors make start-ups succeed: from the team it’s made up of, the business model and grassroots funding, the idea itself, and its place and timing. Geovation Challenges work to incubate start-ups from the very root sowing of the seed: coming up with an idea and turning it into a prototype venture, as embarked upon at the Challenge Camp where finalists test and build upon their ideas, competing to win support by a place on the Geovation Programme.

There’s a lot of talk about design these days, but beyond the compelling word and something that ‘might be nice to have’, what actually makes ‘design’ and what value does it give that is increasingly being recognised by businesses (small and large) as critical to success?

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Geovation believes and places emphasis on the importance of service design in innovation. The open definition of ‘service design’ is “the activity of planning and organising people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers”. Put simply, if you are building a service for people it should be relevant, useful, responsive and friendly. A fundamental of a start-up venture according to the Lean Startup Model is user research. As Eric Ries, pioneer of the Lean Startup movement says in his book, “Too many startups begin with an idea for a product they think people want. They then spend months, sometimes years, perfecting that product without ever showing the product, even in a very rudimentary form, to the prospective customer. When they fail to reach broad uptake from customers, it is often because they never spoke to prospective customers and determined whether or not the product was interesting. When the customers ultimately communicate… that they don’t care about the idea, the startup fails”.

Let’s look at some real-world examples of good service design. What do Airbnb, Spotify and Uber have in common? Despite their different industries, the effectiveness of their service has been the centre point of each of their success. They empower users in a great way to do simple things that have always been around – renting a room, enjoying music, and travelling across cities. Chief Design Officer at the Design Council sums up these companies’ use of service design: “the shaping of service experiences so that they really work for people. Removing the lumps and bumps that make them frustrating, and then adding some magic to make them compelling.

Can you think about services you personally use and really enjoy using? What is it do you think that makes your experience positive? It can be surprising how the little, supposedly mundane aspects that may otherwise be overlooked, can make all the difference to the service overall. Taking a service-design approach involves paying attention to every aspect: “Design is not just how it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works” – as Steve Jobs put it. Services make up 77% of UK’s GDP and design-led companies who provide excellent customer experience outperform the S&P 500 by 43%. Through Geovation Challenge Camp, teams are given a taster of this fundamental element of product development, with help from experienced Service Design Innovation MDes students and graduates from London College of Communication, and expert service design facilitators, Nonon.

You will be encouraged to speak and work with others; to test your ideas, to prototype it, to talk to users and listen carefully to feedback to constantly be informing and re-informing the design. Service-design testing is ensuring the customer experience will be positive, a crucial exercise in the process of turning your idea into a prototype venture.

LCC MDes Service Design Innovation students helping out Water Challenge teams at Camp, March 2016

LCC MDes Service Design Innovation students helping out Water Challenge teams at Camp, March 2016

See Geovation’s short 3 minute video explaining the methodology of good service design

Geovation’s next open innovation challenge will be on underground assets – ‘How can we better manage our underground assets, in Britain?’ Stay tuned via our blog, tweets or contact us if you’d like to find out more. 

‘Underground Assets’ to be the focus of next Geovation Challenge

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Each Geovation Challenge we run focuses on a new issue, from water scarcity and food security to transport and energy poverty. The formula we use every time is Innovation = problem x solution x execution and we are now planning the next Geovation Challenge, starting with the ‘problem’ part of the formula. Identifying the problems is an important first step of the Challenge so that solutions can be focussed on real problems worth solving. For the next Challenge we are holding ‘Deep Digs’ to uncover the problems associated with better management of underground assets. We are also looking for sponsors who are interested in helping us facilitate innovative ways to solve some of the problems experienced and support the winning ventures’ places on the Geovation Programme.

The Geovation Challenge is run online and culminates in a Geovation Camp where finalists develop their prototype ventures using design principles to focus on a sustainable business model to take their idea forward. Winning ideas will be invited to join the Geovation Programme, a 6 month accelerator focussed on idea development, product creation and commercial realisation. The Programme provides geospatial startups with the expert support they need to take their ideas to market.

 Watch the official Geovation Camp Video

It’s also interesting to see some of the great feedback we had from sponsors and participants about Geovation and camp.

“The Camp is a great idea – well delivered with energy, helpful material and access to smart people and skills. A very positive and unforgettable experience”

“Geovation is an excellent initiative and provided a truly exceptional experience… Well done to all involved, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to stretch themselves and achieve a better plan than they could have on their own”

“A brilliant opportunity to accelerate your business venture”

“Highly recommend to everyone who is a creator or user of geospatial data as a great opportunity to challenge yourself to improve what you do or how you do it”.

“A once in a ‘project-lifetime’ experience… being surrounded by innovation and design experts in an environment designed to bring out the best in your team and your idea.”

The Water Challenge sponsors were United Utilities, Southern Water, Defra and Environment Agency.

If you’re interested in how the Geovation Challenge works and the collaboration benefits of sponsoring the next Geovation Challenge please get in touch with us at challenge@geovation.uk

Starting the Sustainable Catchments project

Well done to all the finalists who took part in the Water Challenge Geovation Camp held at Ordnance Survey over the weekend 4-6 March. The finalists had been selected as the best ideas entered to our Geovation Challenge to tackle problems associated with improving water use in Britain sustainably. Dr Steve Buss is an environmental scientist, based in Shrewsbury. A hydrogeologist by training, his professional interests also include spatial modelling and Python programming. In the Sustainable Catchments team Steve works alongside Mark Fermor, Chairman of the Geosmart Information Group.

His Story 

I had been following the Geovation Programme for some time on Twitter and previous challenges excited me but weren’t in my field. As the Water Challenge was launched, in Winter 2015/16, northern England and Scotland were experiencing devastating floods. Many commentators and organisations, including Defra and the Environment Agency, started to come around to the idea that flooding could be mitigated by changing the way that we use land in the catchments upstream of vulnerable communities.

 Floods can cause large quantities of water to flow over green land, destroying wildlife habitats and natural landscapes

Floods can cause large quantities of water to flow over green land, destroying wildlife habitats and natural landscapes

Our initial idea was to develop a national map of the areas where there is an opportunity to change the way the land is managed so that rain water can be held up and released slowly. Planting trees, blocking drains, putting meanders back in to rivers all act to spread the flood peak so that the risk to downstream homeowners and businesses is reduced. Given that the Geovation Challenge is run by the Ordnance Survey it was clear that inputs from the country’s mapping agency would be invaluable in making the project happen. As Mark and I worked through the proposal at Geovation Camp we realised that we should look at all the other benefits that the flood mitigation measures might provide to the environment: better water quality, improved water resource, cleaner bathing waters, better habitats for wildlife… So the idea has moved on from creating a tool that simply proposes natural flood mitigation measures to a more holistic mapping platform which takes into account all the benefits that changing catchment land use might provide.

We are now working with the Geovation Hub to develop a web app that can be used to map opportunity areas for land use change. We are using a spatial model to process national maps from the Ordnance Survey, Environment Agency and other agencies into the raw data that the system will work with. The web app will be online for limited trials with community flood groups, and government agencies, in July 2016 and opened up to the public in November 2016. Our strategy for data licensing is to use primarily Open Data as inputs to the model so that we can release some of the model outputs as Open Data. With free access for everybody we hope to stimulate communities to work with land managers in their catchments to reduce the impacts of flooding, and to improve their local environment for all.

Watch out for more blog posts from our Geovation Water Challenge winners in the future. Don’t miss out! See the reactions from all three Challenge winners on YouTube. Twitter: @srbuss / @geosmartinfo