20th January 2016

Last chance to enter the Water Challenge


There’s only a few days left to enter the Geovation Water Challenge, which closes on 27January 2016 (12 noon) and we don’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to enter.

As with previous Geovation Challenges, we are looking for solutions grounded in a problem worth solving using our established methodology of ‘Innovation = problem x solution x execution’ To enable us to unlock the problems associated with water we ran a Water Problem Deep Dive and identified 5 key themes as the focus for this Challenge: too little water; too much water; poor water quality; ageing water infrastructure, and; water use behaviour.  You can find out more about these problems in detail here

Let’s take a look at some of the ideas submitted so far and the themes of the Geovation Challenge they address.

Dried up mainland Theme 1: Too little waterShading water resources, habitats, and farming land.

Solar or hydrogen assisted airborne shading frames, may be tethered in the summer months over water resources to prevent evaporation, over land to prevent drying out, and over buildings to keep them cool. The solar assisted shading frames are like hot air balloons in that hot air keeps them afloat, but their heating capacity is renewable and may support many square metres in shading material. These frames may be tethered or directed by drones, and deployed at different altitudes where shading and/or reflection is essential.


Too much water Theme 2: Too Much Water – Canals as linear flood attenuators

Extend the canal network by restoration of former waterways as well as some new channels to provide surface and fluvial flood solutions. Combining these with balancing lakes on sites such as former quarries and an integrated flood management solution can be formed at relatively low cost. In this idea canals can become aqueducts and used to intercept tributaries and divert water to balancing lakes enabling attenuation of flood waters. The flood water can then be released when peak rainfalls reduce, ideally via micro hydro solutions to generate electricity.



Girl drinking water Theme 3: Poor water quality – Missed connections identification app and tool

The use of optical brighteners has been previously established as a low cost way to diagnose missed connections. Use of UV light to identify the presence of these optical brighteners in watercourses in combination with a mobile device and mapping application and GIS data can help locate missed connections and remedy them. Using a simple UV filter attachment for a smart phone and citizen-science volunteers, indicator signals for missed connections can be easily recorded and combined with existing geospatial data to locate the source of missed connections


rusty pipes Theme 4: Aging water infrastructure – Poo Mapping

Sewage can run into the storm water system by accident or by incorrect connections. This means sewage can go into stream and lakes. Use water proof RFID (Radio Freq IDentifier) tags that are flushed down toilet to help map route of sewage. If tags re-appear in unexpected locations (rivers or sea outlet), then use maps to identify faults. Tag identifiers can be read using wireless as they pass by within a few feet (water attenuation will be a problem to overcome).



shower head Theme 5: Water Use behaviour –The Fat Box – “pour it in here not down the sink!”

Manufacture a small recycled cardboard box, similar to a juice carton but half its size able to contain about 500ml of liquid. It would be square with a “funnel” top for easy pouring and a simple lid. These would be manufactured in a way to make them ultra-affordable and easily available through supermarket chains so that everyone would be happy to add them to their monthly shopping and have a Fat Box on or near their sink.  The idea being domestic homes pour their cooking fats and used oil into the Fat Box and not down the sink. When the box is full it can be disposed of through Waste Collection or burnt to generate electricity.


There are lots of other ideas submitted on the Geovation Challenge that you can check out here.

If these 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 at Ordnance Survey in Southampton, 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.