Tag Archives: geovation challenge

‘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  

Geovation Water Challenge winners announced

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.

Over the weekend the 10 invited teams used the Innovation = Problem x Solution x Execution equation to develop their prototype venture, using design principles and focus on how they could build a sustainable business model to take their ideas forward.

The teams were supported by service designers and helpers from Ordnance Survey and the Geovation Hub, as well as expert help from those with domain and licensing knowledge and experience in business models.

On Sunday the teams delivered 5 minute pitches and the judging panel asked questions to dive deeper into their water ideas.   The panel then selected the 3 to be offered extras support and funding through the Geovation Programme. The assembled audience of helpers and team members also voted for the team to receive a £1000 Community Award.

winner refillable use copyRefillable Cities

The team of Natalie Fee, Olivia Drake, Thomas Bell and Gus Hoyt will further establish Refill Bristol and aim to roll out nationwide with their app to pinpoint and endorse free tap water refill points at streets, cafes, retailers, hotels and businesses around the city. This is to reduce dependency on plastic bottled water, and change the public mind-set of using plastics that end up in our oceans. The app will capture data and reward and encourage behaviour change by allowing users to build points to exchange for money off vouchers, and gamification.  Refillable Cities also won the Community Award of £1,000.



The Geovation Camp Judging Panel

With Geovation Camp imminent (this weekend) and 10 teams now confirmed to attend we thought it would be an ideal time to remind you of the judging panel who will be deciding which 3 of these teams will be invited into a 12 month funded Geovation Programme

Our judging panel is drawn from our challenge partners EA, Defra, Southern Water and United Utilities; our independent Geovation Challenge Judging panel Chair, Roland Harwood, co-founder of 100%Open; and Dr Alison Prendiville, our internationally recognized service design expert and former Course Director for the MDes Service Design Innovation atLCC/UAL

image of Roland Harwood

Roland Harwood (Chair) is co-founder of 100%Open, the open innovation agency that works with the likes of LEGO, Orange and Oxfam to co-innovate with their partners. Roland was formerly Director of Open Innovation at NESTA, the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. Graduating with a PhD in Physics from Edinburgh University, he has held senior innovation roles in the Utilities and Media industries and in addition has worked with 100’s of start-ups to raise venture capital and commercialise technology. In addition he has worked as a TV and film music producer for SonyBMG.  He will be joined by: (more…)

London Parks launch at The City of London

“Let’s make London the world’s first National Park City. A city where people and nature are better connected. A city that is rich with wildlife and every child benefits from exploring, playing and learning outdoors. A city where we all enjoy high-quality green spaces, the air is clean to breathe, it’s a pleasure to swim in its rivers and green homes are affordable. Together we can make London a greener, healthier and fairer place to live. Together we can make London a National Park City.” This is the opening of the www.nationalparkcity.london website. It’s beautiful isn’t it?  (more…)

Housing Challenge winners Geovey

“I’ve just had a great idea.”

Dangerous words in our office. The two of us run a small business (www.nautoguide.com) aiming to change the world of digital mapping and “great ideas” often lead us astray from the path we should be formally treading. But I just couldn’t keep quiet; I’d been reading the challenge laid out by the GeoVation team and immediately saw how we could make a compelling case.

Richard Reynolds and Dave Barter with Roland Harwood

Richard Reynolds and Dave Barter with Roland Harwood

The challenge centred around the theme of housing and asked, “How can we enable people in Britain to live in better places?” I mulled this over whilst grasping a cup of coffee and asked myself who best understands the needs and issues of the community? Is it the powers that be? Is it those servicing the community? No, it’s the community themselves. They always know what needs improving and often know the best way to go about it, why not give them a tool where they can describe their needs, describe their solution and let the good ideas gather momentum? Surely this would enable people to live in better places by giving them a tool to facilitate change.

I turned to my business partner Richard and we began to develop our thinking further. We saw how a well annotated map that could be easily shared across social networks would go a long way to describe the needs and ideas a community may have. We also saw how these ideas could be seeded in a form of consultation by the powers that be, asking communities what they thought of plans and allowing interactive discussion with the map as the basis.


Reflections of a new GeoVation judge

Our second guest blog from Jane Davidson, who was a member of the judging panel for our recent housing challenge.

GeoVation Housing Challenge logo

To have been a judge for the first time on this year’s GeoVation Challenge, calling for ideas to enable people in Britain to live in better places, has been a privilege. The challenge, as always, is about how to better use Ordnance Survey data innovatively to enhance the public’s understanding and experience. If the future is data driven, how can that data be used most innovatively and accessibly? For the last few years, Ordnance Survey has worked with a number of other organisations to find imaginative and sustainable solutions to a whole range of different challenges. They have inspired ideas and actions that would never have seen the light of day without the GeoVation nudge – or perhaps that should be the GeoVation kick!

The challenge, as far as I am aware, is unique. Not only does it ask respondents to resolve each year’s challenge problem, but it forces collaborative working, skills exchanges, peer mentoring and demands the creation of new and exciting solutions and ventures using geography. Those who become finalists have to bring a team to the GeoVation Camp to work on building the selected idea into a prototype enterprise or venture and pitch it to the independent judging panel for the chance to win a share of funding to implement – subject to completion of a satisfactory venture plan. The process is equally gruelling and exhilarating, for both judges and contestants!


GeoVation ideas from a service perspective

A guest post from Alison Prendiville, who will be one of the judges on our Housing Challenge panel.

GoVAtion Challenge 8 Logo

For a third year running it is a great pleasure to be invited back to judge the Ordnance Survey GeoVation Challenge – ‘How can we enable people in Britain to live in better places?’

Every year the ideas posted in response to the Challenge are impressive and this year is no exception. Linking up Ordnance Survey data with the Land Registry’s licensable data offers an interesting mix of [government] data sources to address some of the current challenges facing UK housing, neighbourhoods and communities; it also presents perhaps one of the most difficult contexts for a GeoVation Challenge.


Affordability, availability, access and infrastructure

Following Roland Harwood’s guest blog, we bring you a second guest blog from one of the judges on our Housing Challenge panel, Jane Davidson. Jane introduces herself and discusses affordability, availability, access and infrastructure: the main themes of the challenge.

GeoVation Housing Challenge

I’m a sucker for a good system – a system that works, is both efficient and effective and opens up access to better information to the widest group of people, preferably on something which can improve their opportunities. So when I was asked to be a judge on the latest GeoVation Challenge, calling for better ideas to enable people in Britain to live in better places, I jumped at the chance.

I have spent years of my life considering housing issues – in the 1980s, as a local councillor in a ward with hundreds of poor quality houses in multiple occupation and as parliamentary researcher on the 1988 Housing Act; in the 1990s, as Head of Housing and Social Care for the Welsh Local Government Association; and, in the 2000s, as the Minister with the overarching responsibility for Environment, Sustainability, Planning, Energy and Housing in the Welsh Government. There are a number of areas on which action can be taken to effect different housing outcomes, both now and for the future, most of which lie in the responsibility of governments – e.g. changing the planning system to produce low carbon, energy efficient buildings, changing tax systems at UK or local council level, releasing more land for building, requiring more social housing, requiring greater energy efficiency obligations, developing incentives for target groups, e.g. first time buyers. All need to be underpinned by a better evidence base  in relation to current practice and opportunity.


Final few hours to enter the housing challenge

As we enter the final few hours of the £101,000 GeoVation Challenge to find GoVAtion Challenge 8 Logoways to tackle some of the long standing housing issues such as affordability, availability, access and infrastructure and best use of assets.

When we launched the GeoVation Challenge we explored some of these problems and why they are important. For instance, affordability and what this means can vary considerably by geography, community, household or individual.  In the 1950’s the average house cost just over 4 times the average salary, but had risen to over 8 times by 2008.
Affordabilty smallHow do we ensure there are enough suitable properties available for first time buyers to get on the property ladder? Why? Because only 18% of more than 325,000 properties with at least two bedrooms for sale in England were within financial reach of a household with children in an average local wage. (more…)

OS OpenData Masterclasses Begin in Collaboration with Land Registry

Our Guest blog today is from the Land Registry team who are working with us on our current GeoVation Challenge “How can we enable people in Britain to live in better places?”. Land Registry were extremely excited to be working along side us on this years masterclasses giving them a hands on opportunity to show case their data sets in action.


geovation open data masterclass graphic


This year’s first GeoVation open data masterclass took place on Thursday 16 October in Tech Hub Swansea. We partnered with Ordnance Survey to host the event, with support from IT specialists Software Alliance Wales. (more…)

Malvern Festival of Innovation returned for its third successive year

The Nationally acclaimed Malvern Festival of Innovation returned for its third successive year last week, and Ordnance Survey’s GeoVation were proud to be Silver sponsors of this year’s festival.

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The event, was launched on Wednesday (October 1), and has continued to grow. This year’s event spanned four days at Malvern Theatres including some parallel events around the town with a range of excellent guest speakers.

Organised by Malvern-based Key IQ in association with Malvern Hills District Council and supported by numerous sponsors such as Lockheed Martin, Santandar, UK Trade & Investment and of course GeoVation,, the festival is a free event. This year’s festival focused on engineering and manufacturing, cyber security, and the Business of Innovating explored, with keynote speakers descending on Malvern from around the UK.