Innovation challenges from Ordnance Survey
Innovation challenges from Ordnance Survey Everything happens somewhere – that’s geography! So when it comes to tackling many intractable problems, geography and geographic information are key ingredients. GeoVation runs challenges to address specific problems within communities, which may be satisfied, in part, through the use of geography. GeoVation challenges are open to entrepreneurs, developers, community groups, government and individuals. They are focused on finding innovative and useful ways of using geographic information, including open data and tools, to build new ventures that will generate social, environmental and/or economic value. We promote open collaboration in addressing real needs and problems of communities where geography is key to a probable solution by: • Running challenges and workshops (Pow Wows) that bring people together to identify real problems around which a challenge can be structured. (GeoVation Pow Wow outputs are shared openly on SlideShare®). • Maintaining an on- and off-line community that encourages innovative ideas to address specific problems. • Organising camps where participants develop their ideas into prototype ventures using an ‘Innovation = problem x solution x execution’ methodology. • Enabling participants to be ‘match fit to pitch’ for funding and support to implement their venture.
‘A good process for innovative thinking for developing and sorting the best ideas.’
‘It was really nice to see that anyone can have a very small idea and for it to be just as valid as the more fully-formed business plans. It seems like a very good opportunity for people to make connections and get advice in areas they are not sure about in a really risk- free environment.’
Review challenge and problem statements.
Post your ideas on the GeoVation Challenge.
IDEAS HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED.
PARTICIPANTS HAVE REGISTERED.
GeoVation was launched in 2009 to find innovative ways to solve real problems using geography as part of the solution. In April 2010, Ordnance Survey released its free-to-use OS OpenData™ product portfolio, as well as new terms for the use of Ordnance Survey’s open application programming interface (API) OS OpenSpace®. We are keen to see challenges make use of these free resources, as well as the wealth of other open government data that has been released. Our challenges have focused on real problems that require collaboration and innovative thinking across all sectors of the economy (public private, third sector and individuals) to address them. In 2009 the ‘How can Britain feed itself?’ challenge was launched against the context of a global food crisis. In 2010 ‘How can we improve transport in Britain?’ focused on reducing the environmental impacts of transport, considering behaviour change, infrastructure and users’ travel experience. In 2012 ‘How can we transform neighbourhoods in Britain together?’ considered ideas to resolve neighbourhood problems such as: anti-community behaviour, loss of the High Street, and building a sense of community. With the new Wales Coast Path officially opened in May 2012, ‘How can we connect communities and visitors along the Wales Coast Path?’ considered how to use the path to stimulate sustainable economic development, health, well-being and social inclusion. This booklet describes the development of the GeoVation challenges, and the commitment, participation and collaboration of other networks, organisations and individuals that make-up the GeoVation community; through posting and commenting on ideas, ‘camping and pitching’, submitting venture plans; offering help, feedback, support and advice. Most of all it is the story of our GeoVation winners and community whose commitment, enthusiasm and ideas inspire us. Keep GeoVating!
The best ideas will be invited to the GeoVation Camp.
TEAMS HAVE PARTICIPATED IN FOUR GEOVATION CAMPS.
Finalists pitch for a chance to win innovation funding.
WINNERS HAVE BEEN AWARDED A SHARE OF OVER £435,000 IN FUNDING TO IMPLEMENT THEIR VENTURES. 3
‘Great approach. I would be more confident going into the process next time, now I know how it works, how you think and how you select.’
‘It’s a great way to develop simple ideas into something more than just a dream or motivation to make something better. GeoVation help innovators build real businesses, confidence, and adds kudos to your project.’
The GeoVation Challenge: Open collaboration, people, innovators, idea
Audience – transport camp
‘All in all a brilliant experience! Glad to have taken part.’
Explaining GeoVation – Wales Coast Path camp
‘Congratulations on a brilliant event superbly organised. Thank you!’
Judging panel – transport showcase
‘Excellent event – indeed the whole process has been enlightening and particularly welcome the ‘openness’ of all those involved.’
Pitching – neighbourhood camp
Behind the scenes – filming at Wales Coast Path camp
Teamwork – neighbourhood camp
Even the greatest idea is worthless if it isn’t developed... 6
as, teams, camps and showcase
Wales Coast Path Pow Wow
‘How can Britain feed itself?’ GeoVation Camp
Pitching – transport camp
‘Go with an idea, listen to people with experience, have an open mind and be prepared to adjust both your approach to pitching and the parameters of your idea.’
Prototyping – Wales Coast Path camp
‘In a recent survey, all the elements of the GeoVation Showcase, such as time with judges, learning more about ideas and announcement of the winners received great feedback, with 75% saying the pitching sessions were good or excellent.’ Warming up for Wales Coast Path camp
Finalists – GeoVation Showcase
Wales Coast Path GeoVation camp
... participants’ ability to realise their ideas is a crucial criterion for selection 7
Latest challenge winners How can we connect communities and visitors along the Wales Coast Path? Perfect Visitor Companion MyTourTalk were awarded £40,000 to develop a multimedia video experience that will guide visitors along the Wales Coast Path. The smartphone app will be 100% accessible, as the geolocated data will be stored offline. ‘The great thing about GeoVation is its relaxed element. GeoVation is about drawing out great ideas; it’s not like Dragons’ Den® as you get to engage with the judges and get feedback at regular intervals. Working with the facilitators – that was brilliant; Nonon were absolutely terrific and the illustrators they bring in allow you to express your opinion in completely different way. It’s very unusual but works very well.’ Jamie Hanna, Julie McNeice, GeoVation winners, Wales Coast Path challenge
Food Finder This idea for an online app and offline map will highlight local sustainable and delicious food (and beer), farms, wild food hotspots, food activities and places to eat along the path. Awarded £30,000 and also voted winner of the £1,000 Community Award.
Ap Ogam An idea from Cardigan team Steve Knight, Sean Vicary and Rowan O’Neill, awarded £30,000 to develop a bilingual smartphone app that will tell people’s local stories of the places and features along the path for visitors to the areas using virtual reality technology. ‘This is the first time we’ve done anything similar to this, looking for opportunities to collaborate in developing our idea. Fantastic process, our first thoughts were that it was a bit prescriptive, but it levels the playing field for all the different ideas…people who have a fantastic idea, but can’t articulate very well, get great support, by the end everyone can do five-minute presentation with timed slides.’ Steve Knight, Ap Ogam
Living Paths Roger Bamkin and Robin Owain of Monmouthpedia were awarded £17,500 to develop the idea, which will allow communities along the path to create a Wikipedia® page and post stories about their communities, allowing diverse local information to become accessible.
Growing Routes Richard Fairhurst was awarded £7,500 to take forward his idea for a web-based app, which will combine data from a variety of sources to provide gap analysis and help build economies along the path by showing where businesses opportunities are.
Passion alone can only take things so far... 8
How can we transform neighbourhoods in Britain together? Community Payback Visibility Staffordshire and West Midlands Probation Trust were awarded the top prize of £40,000 in development funding to take their idea forward. They also won the Community Award of £1,000. Community Payback is unpaid work carried out by offenders on community service. The idea is for the public to nominate a site and upload a photo using a free mobile phone app. This can then be assessed and if the work is carried out, a photo would be posted back on the site so the public can see the effect of the work that has been carried out. Jason Davies, who submitted the idea, added ‘Ordnance Survey maps are crucial in this app to pinpoint the exact location of the site.’
Shout Crime Ideal for All were awarded £25,000 to develop a third-party reporting system for hate crime. The idea came about from user focus groups who suggested that a smartphone app would make it easier to report hate crime.
Residents’ Green Space Mapper An idea from Groundwork London, who were awarded £25,000 to develop a tool for engaging local tenants and residents in surveying open spaces in their area in collaboration with their housing providers, so that they can have a say in improving its use. ‘[GeoVation] has been most valuable, giving us the opportunity to work to together as a dedicated team on developing our problem idea and our solution…a useful framework take-back to Groundwork London in developing project ideas in future.’ Nicola Wheeler, Groundwork London.
Sustaination Ed Dowding was awarded £25,000 to develop Sustaination, a dating site for food enterprises to connect up and trade more easily using social, local and mobile web technologies. The food web will map and analyse the resources in any given area; bringing data-driven advantages to small businesses where the activity is. This will bring resilience to our food systems and prosperity to our High Streets.
...Funding helps realise the project 9
GeoVation winners mapped
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Perfect Visitor Companion
Hate Crime Reporting App
Residentsâ€™ Green Space Mapper
Now we all have access to maps, and the tools to make our own... 10
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Partners GeoVation is initiated, funded and managed by Ordnance Survey, with support and funding from other organisations on specific challenges and activities. The GeoVation Wales Coast Path challenge was funded by Ordnance Survey, Technology Strategy Boardâ€™s SBRI programme and Visit Wales (Welsh Government) and supported by Ramblers Cymru and the Inventorium programme. The GeoVation transport challenge was funded by Ordnance Survey, Technology Strategy Board and Department for Transport through the Ideas in Transit project. It was supported by the National Business Travel Network (a member of Business in the Community) and Technology Strategy Boardâ€™s SBRI programme.
...Can we apply this new way of thinking about maps to tackle bigger issues? 11
MaxiMap® Giant Floor Maps
When Ann Jones was teaching history to schoolchildren, it became apparent to her that a lot of pupils didn’t know where the countries of the United Kingdom were and this made it difficult for them to visualise the information they were being taught. So Ann commissioned a giant floor map of the British Isles and took it into the classroom to highlight cities where civil disturbances took place in the 19th century for her Year 10 GCSE pupils. Ann then joined forces with Rowena Wells, of Llanelli printing company Heritage Screen Print, to create MaxiMap – a giant floor map that is a fun and active way to learn about geography. It was Ann’s idea that impressed the judges and audience in the first GeoVation Challenge in 2010 and secured funding to take this idea forward. Thanks to this idea, pupils of all ages are being given the chance to brush up on their geographic skills with their enormous floor-sized maps, which can be used as a teaching tool to expand pupils’ knowledge of the world. There are three versions of the map; British Isles, Wales, or a world map, and the funding allowed MaxiMap to buy satellite imagery of the world, new imagery of the UK and offer the map at a subsidised cost initially. The giant map was launched at the GA conference in 2010, and following this, feedback was sought from a range of teachers. Rowena Wells commented, ‘The maps cost £330 each and currently 100 maps have been sold to schools and other organisations, such as The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, which ordered nine of the maps to be used in its educational programmes. Ramblers Wales also purchased a map for events relating to the opening of the Wales Coastal Path. Feedback from those that have purchased the maps has been great, as they have found them incredibly useful and engaging teaching aids. However, it has been difficult to increase our market to schools as they struggle to justify this cost in times of cuts.’ There are additional tools that can be purchased alongside the maps, such as markers and English and Welsh place names. MaxiMap has also developed a range of teaching aids, such as a periodic table, and now offers Africa and Europe floor maps, as well as a political map of the world. Rowena added, ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed demonstrating the maps to children at the various events we have attended. We are now getting education packs together to tie in with the World War 1 commemorations next year, and in conjunction Ann will provide individual lessons and inset training’.
MaxiMap world floor map grabs the attention of a group of boys at a Children in Need速 event
Visitors to the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, test their geographic knowledge (the adults soon become very competitive!)
Mission:Explore from the Geography Collective www.missionexplore.net A website and iPhone® app to encourage children and young people to get outside exploring their local area and innovating with geography through social gaming; where participants in activities and challenges (‘missions’) score points and unlock rewards – Mission:Explore! This idea from the Geography Collective was awarded GeoVation funding in the first GeoVation challenge in 2010. The Geography Collective is a group of teachers, activists and artists who came together to encourage (young) people to see and think about our world in new ways. They joined forces with The Workshop to enable Mission: Explore to happen, through the website, books, at festivals and camps. Mission:Explore missions are free to take part in and encourage development of local knowledge and community participation. ‘The more missions you do, the more rewards you’ll unlock and the more fun you’ll have during your stay on planet Earth.’ The initial funding from GeoVation enabled The Geography Collective to secure its partnership with The Workshop, and develop a website and an iPhone app to enable its missions to be geolocated and the interface and gamification element could be developed. It was also able to publish its first book. ‘The visible online presence and website, which is at the forefront of geography innovation, along with the credibility Ordnance Survey backing gave, allowed people to find out about Mission:Explore and enable further conversations and partnerships to develop.’ said Daniel Raven-Ellison of Mission:Explore. These partnerships include National Geographic®, which Mission:Explore has built a strong relationship with, particularly through Geography Awareness Week.
In 2011, Mission:Explore was awarded further funding in the ‘How can we improve transport in Britain?’ GeoVation challenge, for its idea to create ‘missions’ to encourage families to use the National Cycle Network (NCN) and use gamification to help tackle habits and make cycling more desirable. Following this second tranche of funding, research examined the potential to expand the locations of missions to incorporate parts of the NCN and help promote cycling and active travel more generally. The research also explored different ways in which families engage in game-playing and their current cycling behaviour. The findings from research, along with data collected from family and school focus groups, helped shape an understanding of behaviour and barriers to cycling, and how the missions could be structured to encourage greater use of the NCN. Pilots were also carried out in four areas. Barriers to cycling, such as safety and knowledge of cycling routes, meant it was felt that the missions would most likely work best with families already experienced and confident in cycling together. Ten areas have been selected to run Mission:Explore cycling challenges.
GeoVation funding also allowed one member of the Geography Collective, Daniel Raven-Ellison, and a team from The Workshop to focus on development of Mission:Explore and a rebuild of the website, which was launched in October 2011. The rebuild was necessary to have a viable platform to run the cycling-themed challenges and also allowed organisations to be able to create their own branded versions of the challenges, which have so far attracted over 15 fully-paying clients. These range from schools to charities to businesses, and include National Geographic, the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and a NESTA project with Sanctuary Housing. Mission:Explore is working on missions with a range of organisations and has also received £38,500 in funding from Arla, securing a place in the play arena, which wouldn’t have happened without the website. It iscurrently working with the Environment Agency® and Thames Water® to create missions designed to help increase water efficiency in schools, focusing on four London schools initially. The Mission:Explore website had 60,000 unique visitors in the last year, 5,000 registered on-site. Of its audience, 50% are outside of the UK. However, it is difficult to measure the level of interaction precisely; for example, a teacher who registers may use a particular mission with an entire class, or purchase a book for the class. Some books are available freely as educational resources on TES, Guardian® and National Geographic so it is difficult to quantify their reach. There are also interactions that take place at festivals and camps. Going forward, the NCN missions will be launched in spring 2013 in ten locations throughout the UK, with an aim of a possible 15% increase in NCN use, though this may take longer than initially expected. In hindsight, Daniel admits it may be been beneficial to concentrate on fewer areas to start off. Mission:Explore is also looking to increase the number of users registered on its website and the number of repeat visitors, those who rate content, sign up to win, badge and numbers of paying clients. Daniel said ‘We have learnt a lot from our involvement with GeoVation, such as how to set up a company, encourage people to participate, forge new partnerships, social gaming skills and project management. We have worked collaboratively with other GeoVation challenge winners, such as Cityfarmers, to copublish the Mission:Explore Food book and Integrated Transport Planning on a project in Lowestoft aiming to increase the number of families using buses’. ‘We have been steadily increasing numbers to our website and forging new partnerships, but we would still like to reach the family audience, though this will require more financial investment for marketing. Mission:Explore has the potential to reach all children and families and those interested in education and behaviour change. The technology could be used by any industry to set challenges with rewards and points in recognition of completion’. Speaking about GeoVation Daniel added ‘The GeoVation Challenge process is fantastic. It has elevated us from having an idea to being a commercially-viable company with no debt that is exporting services to the United States and working with well-known brands and institutions. Anyone can enter and be supported in developing their idea and think creatively and critically about how to solve a problem first and the solution second. Other benefits include the connections and opportunities that have helped us to scale-up and becoming part of a network of organisations that help each other, almost like a GeoVation alumni network, and the benefit of having support from Ordnance Survey as a trusted and well-known organisation within the UK.’
Foodnation™: The people’s digital co-op www.food-nation.co.uk Foodnation’s mission is to have neighbourhood Foodnation hubs within bicycle-riding distance of most households in the UK. It provides a platform to connect customers and farmers in their local area easily and allow them to make transactions to buy and sell local organic food and find fruit and veg box-delivery schemes around the UK. The idea came from Louise Campbell, who was able to set up the company in March 2011 after receiving GeoVation funding in the ‘How can Britain feed itself?’ GeoVation challenge. After securing funding, the first steps in the project were to obtain the data and build a platform for transactions to take place. The pilot website was thoroughly tested and feedback fed back into the development of the site. After gathering more data, Louise looked for organisations to partner with. Farmers, that may not have the capability to set up their own websites, pay a percentage from their sales to use the platform to sell fruit and veg boxes direct to local people. The Foodnation app was launched in May 2012 with the launch of the web app following in September 2012. At the time of writing, there have been 1,000 downloads of the app and traffic to the website increased 400% following the web app launch. The transition town network is a natural audience for Foodnation, and it has built on this by partnering with Transition Town Maidenhead to run a pilot ordering scheme. There was a real need in Maidenhead, as there are few farms supporting the area and the Transition Town was looking for a platform for ordering organic fruit and veg boxes from a local supplier. The pilot has run through July and August 2012 and has successfully seen £400 per week of orders from its 20 members. The full Foodnation Co-operative Maidenhead website is scheduled to launch in early 2013 with potentially 40,000 people in Maidenhead who could benefit from this method of ordering local produce. Members will pay a fee to be part of the Foodnation Co-operative and sales and membership will be monitored to show its success. The model for the Foodnation Co-operative is fully scalable and can be rolled out to transition towns throughout the UK and used to attract potential investors. Louise says she has learnt a lot from the experience of being a GeoVation winner and starting a digital project from scratch. ‘I learnt digital marketing skills and what is required to develop a mobile app. Also how to project manage with a budget and to be cautious about how fast you can start a new business with limited funds. Given the funding again, I would spend much more proportionally on digital marketing at the beginning than into the project development.’ Other benefits from managing Foodnation Co-operative is that it is likely to create several new jobs; for Maidenhead alone there are currently five volunteer roles and Hub Coordinators being recruited. Through the GeoVation network, Foodnation has made links with others involved in our sustainable food futures, such as the Transition Towns Network, Sustain, Tasting the Future and Making Local Food Work. Looking ahead, Foodnation will continue to build on the success of the app and website, and work with partner organisations interested in promoting local, sustainable food.
ÂŠ Crown copyright and database rights 2012 Ordnance Survey
City Farmers is a social enterprise – community interest company – which was set up by Helen Steer and Peter Boyce in 2011 after receiving GeoVation funding. It aims to help local government engage individuals and communities through food and mapping, leading to the creation of new growers and increased awareness of the problems with our food system. The project began by researching existing growing provisions, communities, projects and challenges within Lambeth. The team used open data to create multi-layer maps, which have proved incredibly valuable at visualising and framing the problems and enabled them to start conversations with local communities and government. City Farmers supports existing projects, runs workshops, helps others with funding, organises collaborations, and sets up related projects; two examples of which are detailed below (Brixton Beer and Community Greenhouses). It has also developed a range of maps showing food growing, crime, education and various other types of ‘data topography’. During the first year, it worked on a voluntary basis to establish the project, but it now charges for its services. Currently, City Farmers focuses mainly on Lambeth, with projects in specific areas, such as Vassall Ward (Myatt’s Fields) – one of the most deprived areas in Britain; also on the Cowley Food Farm and Loughborough Estate. It has also been working on a community greenhouse project in Camden. Brixton Beer is a small-scale social enterprise set up by City Farmers, which involves growing hops in the local community; in gardens, parks, pots and community areas across South London, and working with a microbrewery to produce beer (Prima Donna), which is available to buy locally. This has been a great way to introduce local people to growing crops and to start conversations about creating a circular food economy. The enterprise is profit-making and the business plan will be open-source and scaled out to transition towns nationally. The team has been busy co-publishing a children’s book, Mission:Explore Food, with GeoVation winner the Geography Collective, and running a project to recycle glass windows (being replaced by double glazing) in the community into cold frames and greenhouses. City Farmers is now building on previous work and working on a local food strategy with the NHS® and local government. Community groups, local government, grass-roots organisations and groups of residents throughout the UK can all potentially benefit from the City Farmers approach. During the last 18 months, the team has learnt a lot about how local government works, and gained experience of working with community groups, including valuable lessons, such as ensuring projects are community-led from the very start and to charge for its services earlier! Their aim is for City Farmers to be a profitable, sustainable enterprise and it is working on joint bids for funding projects, including a bid for lottery funding with a local authority to develop the work. It has also made successful links and built networks with WWF® Tasting the Future and the Campaign for Real Farming – which it has worked with to map the delegates for its 2013 annual conference.
myPTP from liftshare
A personal travel plan in itself is not a new idea. However, being able to create a plan with all an individual’s options in one document, with a search time of under 30 seconds, is the innovative idea that was put forward by liftshare, and awarded GeoVation funding in the ‘How can we improve transport in Britain’ GeoVation challenge. liftshare is a social enterprise, which describes itself as ‘mission-driven rather than profit-driven’ and whose aim is to encourage sustainable transport options and cut carbon emissions by car-sharing. It wants to get people to think about their travel options, but understand that this isn’t always easy, especially for those new to an area or working parents. myPTP’s are individual personal travel plans produced in a single document, which allow individuals to evaluate their transport options while considering CO2, financial and other implications such as calories burnt. This can be used to improve the commute to work and create a modal shift towards more sustainable travel options. After receiving funding from GeoVation, liftshare set to work building a system to deliver the PTPs and pilot this with employers (two councils and one university). It used a bulk upload system to allow travel planners to deliver a large number of PTPs to employees ‘en masse’. The tool was skeleton-built as an idea, shaped by user feedback, thoroughly researched and then developed, which has ensured that the tool is accessible and engaging. The pilot exceeded the target of a 10% model shift, with 21% looking to change their daily travel plans. Building on feedback, liftshare has recently soft-launched myPTP with a major council, which have purchased 15,000 myPTPs. myPTP helps new recruits choose sustainable transport options before travel habits form and encourages existing employees to change – this is done by working with a travel coordinator within an organisation. They are well placed to understand their employees’ expectations and the benefits the organisation hopes to achieve. liftshare can also feed back to transport providers where there may be increases in demand; for instance, expansions and when new offices are built. Bryony Ecclestone of liftshare commented ‘It’s really exciting to see how people engage with the process once they start trying alternative methods of travelling to work. Some have even found new routes themselves, which they feed back to the data provider so that routes, options and timings continue to improve’. Availability of open-source data is seen as crucial to the success of myPTP. Bryony said ‘We have learnt a lot from listening to feedback and incorporating individuals’ ideas; however, being able to incorporate a full dataset of transport costs at the outset would have completed our mission of informing individuals’. Going forward, more clients have signed up, resulting in nearly 60,000 myPTPs with a further 160 potential clients showing interest, and this list is still growing following an article in Local Transport Today. liftshare is also planning a pilot with job centres, which will help applicants look at all their travel options when applying for vacancies. A ‘widget’ that can be embedded on an organisation’s website is in the pipeline, which will make it easy for individuals to access the myPTP tool. There are further collaborations planned, including with the National Trust®, which is aiming to decrease its carbon footprint. liftshare was selected as a winner of the 2012 Ashden Award for Sustainable Travel for the groundbreaking and tireless ways in which it encourages people to think differently about how they travel and fill empty car seats on the roads. It was awarded a share of £30,000 in prize money to further its work to promote sustainable travel. Internally, as a result of GeoVation funding and the work generated from this, liftshare has been able to increase its staff from 18 to 22 employees.
s ’ e r a h s lift TP P y m
PERSO TRAV NAL E PLAN L S ******
EXHAUSTED - THE SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MAGAZINE
cyclescape Cyclescape from Cyclestreets
Cyclescape is an interactive website that provides cycling campaign groups around the UK and their members with a toolkit for easy discussion and resolution of campaigning issues. It aims to make it easier for people to get involved, get up to speed on any issue facing cyclists, work more productively with local authorities and discover best practices from around the UK. Geography is at the heart of the system. Cyclescape is being created by CycleStreets, a not-for-profit social enterprise that runs the UK cycle journey planner at cyclestreets.net. Cyclescape aims to facilitate the work of these advocacy groups by tackling the typical problems they face – getting more people involved, avoiding overload of volunteers, prioritisation, and knowing about the policy context of any issue.
Cyclescape is designed to improve and automate these groups’ typical processes.
Features of the site include: full-featured discussion tools, subscription based on ‘watching’ geographic areas drawn
onto the map, integrated collision data, automatic visibility of planning applications, group privacy settings and a library of resources that can be ‘pulled-in’ to the discussions, and more. Cyclescape has been developed by a small team of specialist developers using modern web development techniques (generating eight person-months of development work). It is an open-source project, allowing others to get involved and so it could potentially be repurposed for other communities of interest, such as monitoring the effects of the new planning system or supporting the advocacy work of pedestrian groups. During the site’s beta period, it has been intensively in use by one group of users, representing around 20 users from one of the most active groups around the UK, who were demanding and generated much useful feedback. Work to complete features and usability work is ongoing. Other groups joining the system will benefit from this experience. The site was showcased at the main annual cycling campaign community conference in October 2012. Following its presentation, the head of the national campaigning charity (who gave the keynote speech) announced he was ‘blown away’ by what he had seen. Following this soft-launch, groups will be added one-by-one as the site takes on its national focus.
escape: Logo suggestions
Cyclescape aims to provide a very full-featured, user-friendly platform that every cycle campaign group will want to use. There are over 100 such groups, ranging from tens to hundreds of members. The challenge will be to cater for the differing processes and skills within these groups and facilitate opportunities for collaboration. The project has been ambitious and taken longer to deliver than hoped, with consequent higher costs and the need to source additional grants, of around £12,000. However, the development work has proceeded well, with a stable code base designed for the long-term. The ability to repurpose the site or translate it to other languages will bring opportunities for funding and open-source development. Initial results from the beta testing group show very positive signs: doubled level of activity, new people getting involved, little off-topic discussion, with issues being brought to conclusion more effectively. The robust design framework established will ensure that the site will meet the challenges of wider availability during the coming period of growth. The long-term success of the site will be judged by how groups are able to influence change more effectively at a local level and work with local authorities to increase rates of cycling; for example improved cycle facilities, safer streets and more cycle parking.
AccessAdvisr from Integrated Transport Ltd.
AccessAdvisr is a platform that enables members of the public to improve the quality of information relating to the accessibility of transport stops and stations, as well as public places. It aims to make difficult journeys easier for people with limited mobility. The idea came from Neil Taylor, of Integrated Transport Planning Ltd (ITP), and was awarded funding in our ‘How can we improve transport in Britain?’ GeoVation challenge. Insight from previous user-needs research conducted by ITP revealed that accessible transport networks and destinations remain ‘hidden’ from clear view. People with limited mobility must often piece together information about the location, quality and reliability of accessible transport networks and destinations from journey planners, online maps, discussion forums and destination websites. AccessAdvisr aims to be relevant to anyone who needs information about the accessibility of transport and places before and during their journey. It puts people who experience mobility impairments in charge of managing and maintaining accessibility information, so that it reflects ‘real-world’ user perspectives. After securing funding, the key stages of the project were to review and broker existing data, recruit a team of software developers, establish proof-of-concept software specifications and develop the software. This was thoroughly tested at alpha stage before a beta release of the AccessAdvisr website, which was tested with members of the public in Loughborough and Nottingham. With around 100 user profiles registered on the platform to date, follow-up development is already underway to refine the website and create iPhone and Android® smartphone app versions of the website. The next step is to publicly launch the website and smartphone apps in a number of UK locations to grow the user community. Key beneficiaries will be disabled people and those who experience some form of mobility impairment. There are currently estimated to be around 10 million disabled people in the UK and, due to the growing numbers of people over the age of 70, this number is increasing annually. A team of about 10 people has been involved in the development and promotion of AccessAdvisr and ITP is seeking further innovation funding to move AccessAdvisr from the current proof-ofconcept website and smartphone apps to a product that, based on user-feedback, can inform accessible journey-planning. Neil Taylor comments: ‘The key benefits for us have been learning about the software development process and the challenges associated with creating accessible software tools. We have established technical partnerships and working relationships with software developers, which we’ve been able to draw on for other clients and projects. The project has also raised ITP’s profile and enabled us to gain recognition for the philosophically-focused nature of much of our transport-planning and research work.’ ‘We learned that anything is possible in software development terms, depending on how much time and budget you have. We have also learnt an awful lot about the good and bad ways to display point-based information and how to overcome the challenges associated with combining multiple sources of accessibility information for display on Web/smartphone apps. If starting again, we would probably look to recruit an in-house software developer to help us accelerate our development and testing cycles.’ The success of AccessAdvisr is being measured by website usage and app downloads; the amount of user-generated content and location ratings being added to the platform. User feedback and suggestions are very important to shape the platform modifications, and looking ahead ITP has secured some work with local authorities to develop vibrant AccessAdvisr user communities in their areas. In summary, Neil states ‘Through GeoVation, we have built an excellent network of contacts with software developers who are also interested in improving Britain’s transport. We have also collaborated successfully with other GeoVation entrants to work with clients both internationally and in the UK.’
‘Access Advisr’s creators, Integrated Transport Planning Ltd, ...are also using open data to improve the quality transport projects for local authorities in England. As well as working on behalf of the World Bank to develop and pilot a suite of open source software tools and open data platforms that will improve the way urban transport systems function in the Philippines.’ The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, Cabinet Office Minister, March 2012. At an address on the economic benefits and innovation potential of opening up availability of government data.
FixMyTransport Anywhere! by mySociety
FixMyTransport, a website that makes it easy for people to report and get common transport problems resolved, and specifically a mobile version of this. This is the idea from mySociety, which was awarded innovation funding in the 2011 ‘How can we improve transport in Britain?’ GeoVation challenge. By creating a mobile version of the website, people can report problems, such as broken ticket machines or buses that always leave early, when they actually happen – rather than waiting until arriving at a destination and then forgetting about it. mySociety sends the information provided straight to the correct transport operator or local authority so that action can be taken. All reports and responses are also posted online so that other people can support, respond and give advice. mySociety, which developed the site, is a UK charity whose mission is to help people become more powerful in the civic and democratic parts of their lives, through digital means. It does this by building websites that give the public simple, tangible ways to connect with and improve their society. All mySociety projects are built on free and open-source software so that individuals and organisations can share this globally to build their own variations. Following GeoVation funding, development of the main FixMyTransport website was completed in August 2011 and the initial mobile version was developed and launched during summer 2011. This initial launch period provided the opportunity to gain insights from a large number of real users about the enhancements required to make the mobile version more effective. The feedback from this informed a more complex version, which launched in December 2011. The site uses geolocation and automatically pinpoints the user’s whereabouts – useful for those travelling in unfamiliar places. Users can see other reported problems near their location and engage with local transport problems. Maps are user-friendly to mobile browsers and scrollable like the desktop version. Twitter® and Facebook® messages sent out during the rush hour encourage commuters to contribute. Looking ahead, mySociety will continue its focus on learning more about why users interact with the site and report problems. Paul Lenz, of mySociety comments ‘The mobile site has now been live for more than a year and generates a large amount of traffic, but the core focus at the moment is to increase the number of people who, having visited, report problems on the site.’ As a charity, mySociety does not assess the benefits in financial terms on a project such as this. The value is in having created a useful site used by many people. To this end, it measures the traffic to the site and the volume and success of campaigns and problem reports made. The website has in the region of 250,000 monthly users, of which around 80,000 access using mobile devices; the part of the service directly supported by the GeoVation funding. Paul added ‘Anyone who uses public transport can benefit from the site. This is not just those people who report problems and have them resolved, but anyone who uses a route or service that is improved or fixed as a result of someone reporting a problem or starting a campaign on the site. During development of the site we have learnt a lot about transport data, but more specifically, the extent to which many transport operators are unwilling to publicly communicate with their customers – this is something we continue to work to overcome. Through the GeoVation network, we have also formed a partnership with fellow GeoVation challenge winners ITP (AccessAdvisr), which led to a successful World Bank bid developing a fault-reporting system in the Philippines, which will launch soon.’
London Cycle Map bikemapper.org.uk cyclelifestyle.co.uk A single cycle map with a ‘compass colour system’ that is clear and easy to use, and corresponds to a unified network of signed cycle routes throughout Greater London – the cycling equivalent of the London Underground map. This idea from cycling campaigner Simon Parker, supported by editor of cycle lifestyle magazine and fellow campaigner Ben Irvine, was awarded innovation funding from GeoVation in 2011. Simon first developed an interest in mass cycling in 1999. ‘I had spent the summer hiring out bikes to people in Richmond Park,’ he explains, ‘and was blown away to see so many smiles. These guys had just been for an eight-mile bike ride, and they loved every minute.’ The idea for a more improved signing strategy occurred to Simon later on that same year. He was riding his bike back home from somewhere new, following a cycle route, when all of a sudden the signs just disappeared. ‘The thing that really got to me,’ he says, ‘was that I didn’t even know in which direction I had been going; I was completely disorientated. All I had with me was an old London Cycle Network map, but without the corresponding signs on the ground, this map was effectively redundant.’ Simon later came to the realisation that by using colours to indicate the direction of travel, he ought to be able to simplify the way in which the routes on the cycle network are waymarked, and thereby make journey planning much easier. The ‘compass colour system’, as he calls it, groups routes by colour depending on their orientation. For example, there is a cold blue for the north-south routes, and a sunny red for the east-west routes. GeoVation funding was awarded specifically to develop a photomap and website. This has been achieved successfully in the form of www.bikemapper.org.uk, which was launched in 2011. The website invites individuals to log photographs and video clips of functioning and non-functioning parts of the cycle network, which can be rated according to safety and the ease with which they can be made to function at an acceptable level. This information could then perhaps be used to inform the debate about where investment in the cycle infrastructure should be made. Simon has started work on a streetscape study, taking photographs at key points around London. His website shows around 700 of these photographs and has been publicised to cycle bloggers and cycling organisations, including the London Cycling Campaign. Cycle Lifestyle magazine is continuing to promote and campaign for the London Cycle Map to be unified with a network of signed cycle routes, with over 1,750 signatures on the associated petition. Ben Irvine comments ‘The map has potential to benefit anyone who cycles through London and the capability to revolutionise transport in London. It can open up cycling in London to resident and visiting cyclists, and by use of electric cycles to those who may not currently consider cycling as a transport option. Funding from Ordnance Survey’s GeoVation certainly added to the credibility of the idea.’ Simon also makes the point that a network approach can be pursued in all of the UK’s towns and cities. ‘This isn’t just about London.’ he insists, ‘The important thing is to think in terms of a network, and to get this network up and running. This then provides you with a solid base from which to build.’ As Mathias Doepke from Northwestern University has pointed out, ‘Once you have a coherent network, the attractiveness of cycling goes up a lot.’ Simon is currently working on designs for cycling networks in Cambridge and Norwich. ‘Wouldn’t it be great,’ he asks, ‘if all of the routes on networks such as these were safe and inviting enough such that children and the elderly felt able to use them?’
London Cycling Network (proposed)
© SC Parker 2012
Norwich Cycling Network (proposed)
© SC Parker 2012
Cambridge Cycling Network (proposed)
© SC Parker 2012
The GeoVation team
Viv Alexander, Luke Hampson, Chris Parker and Ian Holt.
Chris Parker – GeoVation Manager Chris leads GeoVation at Ordnance Survey and collaborates across government and other organisations to organise GeoVation challenges. He’s keen to encourage greater use of geography in solving community needs.
Viv Alexander – GeoVation Community and Event Manager Viv engages with the GeoVation community, keeping them up to date with challenges and encouraging great ideas through the blog, social media, the Ideas Platform and at the GeoVation events, which she organises.
Ian Holt – Developer Programme Manager (and the GeoDoctor) Ian encourages developers to use the world-renowned Ordnance Survey data, including OS OpenData, in innovative ways. You'll often find him at events, hack days, wherever great location data could really turn an idea into a great idea.
Luke Hampson – Developer Engagement Community and Event Manager Luke’s focus is on expanding our engagement with developers and the benefits of location. He regularly contributes to the GeoVation blog and organises events for developers and GeoVation.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how you could work with GeoVation on a future challenge, or would like to find out more about developer events, then we’d be glad to hear from you – please email us at:
Acknowledgements The GeoVation team would particularly like to thank the following people without whom GeoVation would not be possible:
Judges: Roland Harwood (100%Open), Chair of Food, Transport and Neighbourhood Challenge, Andrew Middleton (TYF), Chair of Wales Coast Path Challenge, Steven Feldman (Knowwhere Consulting), Chair of first GeoVation Challenge, Peter ter Haar (Ordnance Survey), James Cutler (eMapSite), Bryan Forbes (SBRI, Technology Strategy Board (TSB)), Gary Gale (Nokia), Steve Coast (OpenStreetMap), James Alexander (Hoopoe Vision), Eloise Day (Capital Growth), Nick Snelgar (Future Farms), Victoria Harris (The Princeâ€™s Rural Action Programmes, Business in the Community, (BITC)). Andrew Goodwin & Serena Cussons (Department for Transport, (DfT)), Christopher Osborne (Ito World), Glenn Lyons (University of the West of England), Richard Kemp-Harper (TSB), Tracy Ross (University of Loughborough), Alison Prendiville (Centre for Creative Competitive Design), Daniel Raven-Ellison (Mission:Explore), Marianne Guldbrandsen (Northern Circle), Richard Bridge (Community Matters), Angela Charlton (Ramblers Cymru), Bill Oates and Gareth Browning (Welsh Assembly Government (WAG)), Peter Francombe (Visit Wales), John Carpenter, John Kimmance, and Liz Ratcliffe (Ordnance Survey).
Camp and PowWow Facilitators: Sean Miller, David Townson, Murray Sim, Richard Telford, Nick Devitt and Rob Maslin (Nonon).
Helping to design and run GeoVation challenges: Sam Henderson (Agrarian Renaissance), Colin Tudge (Campaign for Real Farming), Ruth West (College for Enlightened Agriculture), David Simoes-Brown (100%Open), John Sheridan (National Archives), Karl Rego, Clare Jenkinson and Will Popham (BITC), Richard Barnett, (New Forest Transition Network), Sarah Church (DEFRA Food Policy Unit), Ana Svab (Ways2Work), Duncan Wilson (ARUP), Eric Matthews (Ito World), Heather McInroy (National Business Travel Network, BITC) Ivana Gazibara (Forum for the Future), Louise Cooper (IBM), Noel Hatch (Kent County Council), Sam Mullins (London Transport Museum), Alice Casey (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, NESTA), Amanda Gore (Design Council), David Wilcox (Social Reporter), Edith Galliers (Barking and Dagenham Council), Mark Pinheiro (Cabinet Office), Parminder Jutla (UnLtd), MSc design students from London College of Communication, Alex Badley, Andrew Hurst and Stella Asprou (WAG), Andy Hurst (Visit Wales), Ann Whelan (Countryside Council for Wales), Carole Startin (Tourism Partnership North Wales), Chris Wright (Snowdonia Active), David Williams (Duke of Edinburgh Award), Caroline Thompson, Dyfan Searell, Jenny Dickinson and Martin Owen (Inventorium), Gwenda Owen (Ramblers Cymru), John Abbitt (Snowdonia National Park), Paul Sandham (Geo Geeks), Peter Hewlett (Walking North Wales), Sioned Jones (Anglesey Council), Amanda Harries (Hay Productions), Anthony Parsons (Environment Agency), Dave MacLachlan (Pembrokeshire Coast National Park), James Hitchings, Justin Lewis and Tom Hadfield (Youth Hostel Association), Malcolm Ward (NHS Wales), Maria Rocke (Kidwelly Local Council), Melanie Davies (Cyclistsâ€™ Touring Club), Peter Cole (Capital Region Tourism), Laura Sorvala (Auralab), Phil Evans (Wales Info), Terry Jackson (Location Wales); Tim Harling (Tidy Studio), Michelle Rose-Innes (Rose-Innes Designs), Paul Thurston (Design Wales).
You can follow our winners' progress, challenge annoucements, and other GeoVation activity through our regularly updated GeoVation blog:
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