• Steps to GeoVation funding - watch the video
  • Green ventures get the green light to innovation funding
  • How can we encourage active lifestyles? See the 74 great ideas

Category: Transforming neighbourhoods

GeoVation winner launches app to help get Community Payback

By , 15 October, 2013 8:00 am

GeoVation winner, Staffordshire and West Midlands (SWM) Probation Trust, have launched a new app to help the public choose what Community Payback work offenders do.

The new app called ‘Get Community Payback’ was one of four winners in the 2012 GeoVation Challenge to transform Britain’s neighbourhoods and was awarded £41,000 from Ordnance Survey to develop the idea.

Probation Trusts across England and Wales run the successful and popular Community Payback scheme. Across Staffordshire and the West Midlands, over 612,000 hours of Community Payback were completed last year by over 4,500 offenders on a community sentence. This equates to over three and a half million pounds’ worth of free labour provided to local communities as offenders payback for the crimes they have committed.

The free app works on all Android phones and allows users to take a photo of a “grotspot” in their local area for offenders to work on. The image, which is automatically geo-tagged giving it an exact geographic reference, is then sent directly to their local Probation Trust to accurately pinpoint the location.

Community Payback projects include litter picking, clearing dense undergrowth, repairing and redecorating community centres and removing graffiti. If the work is suitable for offenders to do*, Probation will arrange for them to go out and do it.

Continue reading 'GeoVation winner launches app to help get Community Payback'»

GeoVation winner mapping to improve local green space

By , 1 July, 2013 8:00 am

Earlier this year, Groundwork London, GeoVation winner in our challenge to transform neighbourhoods launched Green Space Mapper, a tool for local residents to have a say in the future of open spaces in their area.

The Green Space Mapper is an online consultation and surveying tool which allows users to build versatile questionnaire which users can associated with locations which have been mapped onto an interactive web map. Developed for use with desktop, tablet and mobile platforms in mind Green Space mapper is a flexible solution for use on site or as part of a desktop survey.

How it works:

The user either taps on link or app icon and they are shown a map showing the extent of the survey area. Using the devices inbuilt GPS/phone triangulation device the Green Space Mapper locates them and zooms to their location. Alternatively if they wish to survey another site or don’t have a location enabled device they can pan and zoom using their touch device to their location. Once a site is selected the survey will start. The user will be asked questions, using a wide variety of response types as well as the option to upload an image. At the end of the survey the user can be sent to a submission page and their survey is safely stored in the Green Space Mapper database.Image showing Green Space Mapper user flow

Continue reading 'GeoVation winner mapping to improve local green space'»

GeoVation winner develops new app to report hate crime

By , 3 April, 2013 8:00 am

Shout  crime home screenLast year we ran a GeoVation Challenge asking how we could transform neighbourhoods in Britain.  One of the GeoVation winners was Shout Crime – an idea for app to make it easier to report hate crime.   Below David Williamson of Development Keys tells us how this is progressing.

Hate crime is one area of the criminal justice system that, evidence shows, often goes unreported. Recognising the negative impact that hate crime can have on individuals and communities,  Ideal for All (IFA), an Independent Living Centre in Sandwell, decided to use its experience and resources to make a real difference. Drawing on the passion of one of its User Groups, a project was conceived to develop a new, flexible and accessible reporting system for hate crime. an application that would provide  a crime reporting mechanism for individuals and a visual analysis tool for communities and agencies alike. Recognising the strength of commitment and the technical integrity of the project, Ordnance Survey decided to back the concept and awarded IFA  £25,000 to develop the first application for both desktop and mobile technologies.

Building on the excitement of receiving the award, Ideal for All  set about the detailed definition of the project that is ‘Shout Crime’. Our newly formed Steering Team, including experts in the field of Information Technology, crime reporting and community engagement, was supplemented with specific skill sets around project management and the delivery of successful web enabled applications. An Invitation To Tender was issued toward the end of 2012 with an aggressive set of requirements for delivery of the Shout Crime application by the end of March 2013. The New Year saw the development contract awarded to BoilerHouse Media, Birmingham and the project was up and running.

Continue reading 'GeoVation winner develops new app to report hate crime'»

Open data, big data, big changes

By , 20 February, 2013 8:00 am

Today we have a great guest blog from GeoVation winner, Ed Dowding who tells us what Sustaination is aiming to achieve and how they will be doing this using gathering and using open data:

Imagine if there were a shop in which you knew that everything had been sustainably and fairly sourced.

If you picked up an apple, it would be from the nearest, most viable orchard; if you choose burgers, they would be locally produced from locally grazed cattle; and if it was February the tomatoes would be preserved ones – you’ll savour the anticipation of fresh ones when they’re back in season. In the meantime there’s winter stews to enjoy.

Wouldn’t it be great to shop there? I’d love to know that the money I spend isn’t creating hardship for a farmer – it’s generating livelihoods; it isn’t polluting the planet – it’s actually purifying water; it isn’t hindering future generations – it’s actively enriching the soil; and, in short, that we’re doing the very best we know that we can do.

That’s the vision we’re working towards, and that’s the vision GeoVation is helping us achieve.

So how do we do it?

We’re working on two complementary projects:

1) Foodtrade —  a business-to-business food trade network. It’s  really simple: if you’re a food business (of any size or type, from farm-to-fork) you tell us where you are and what you buy or sell. We’ll try match-make you with others near you. We also do a lot of other clever stuff, and we’ll be launching that soon.

2) I Want Better Food — a new type of campaign site where we help consumers and businesses work together to create a better food system.Image of the Website I want better food

The timing really couldn’t be better (unfortunately). The recent horse meat scandal has brought to mind, again, that we need to take more responsibility for our food.

Continue reading 'Open data, big data, big changes'»

Innovating with Community Payback Visibility

By , 9 January, 2013 8:00 am

In this update, Jason Davies of Staffordshire and West Midlands Probation Trust, winners of our ‘How can we transform neighbourhoods in Britain together?’ GeoVation Challenge explains how they’ve been developing and innovating with their app for Community Payback Visibility.

Designing the Service

If you had asked me a year ago what service design was, I would have struggled to guess the answer. In my ignorance, I photo of service design workshopthink I would have been quite sceptical. As we pitched our app idea at the GeoVation Challenge, we were introduced to the concept of service design and began to understand the benefits it would bring.

Wikipedia describes service design as “the activity of planning and organizing (sic) people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers.”

In other words, if you are planning to provide a service for people, make it relevant, make it useful, make it responsive, and make it friendly. And don’t think you can do all that without speaking to anyone. You don’t know it all and you will not have thought of everything. Test it, prototype it, talk to users, listen carefully to the feedback. All the time, you will be informing the design.

The principles sound obvious but it’s incredibly easy to find examples of appallingly badly designed services – where the very people expected to use the service are tearing their hair out at how difficult it is to use, how user-unfriendly it is. We want our app to be used and the experience to be positive, so people will use it again and recommend it. So we asked service designers, Sean and David of Nonon (who facilitated at GeoVation Camp) to help.

Continue reading 'Innovating with Community Payback Visibility'»

Happy Innovating in 2013

By , 3 January, 2013 8:00 am

Happy new year from GeoVation. I hope you had an enjoyable festive break and start to the New Year.  I spent Christmas fairly quietly at home but after a great holiday in December visiting New York and Costa Rica, I was glad of a chance to catch up and get back out running. I’ve been taking part in my local free parkrun which  I think is a great example of an idea starting locally with a  simple solution (it started with just 13 runners in a London Park 13 years ago) that embraces the use of digital technology (website registration, bar codes, electronic timing, email and text results), includes the use of mapping data (the course, directions) and has been scaled up – parkruns are now held at 155 locations around the UK with an average of 134 runners at each event.

Photo taken in Cardiff - do you know where it is?

Photo taken when visiting Cardiff for the GeoVation Showcase. Do you know where it is and what it’s called?

In 2012,  GeoVation ran 2 GeoVation challenges. The first, focused on transforming neighbourhoods in Britain and second on  connecting visitors and communities to the new Wales Coast Path.  We had a great response to these challenges resulting in 9 new innovative ideas that we, together with our partners in the Wales Coast Path Challenge, were able to award funding to and which will help get these exciting ventures off the ground.

Helping to transform neighbourhoods, Community Payback Visibility is an app that will allow the local community in the Staffordshire and West Midlands to nominate sites for work to be carried out by offenders on community service and track the progress. Residents’ Green Space Mapper provides a tool for local residents to have a say in the future of open spaces in their area. Shout Crime will allow people to report hate crimes more easily and Sustaination are using social, local and mobile web technologies to make it cheaper and easier for food enterprises to connect and bring resilience to our food systems

Continue reading 'Happy Innovating in 2013'»

Merry Christmas from the GeoVation Team

By , 17 December, 2012 2:21 pm

Dear GeoVators, Geovation Logo

First, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you  a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from GeoVation and Ordnance Survey. Thank you for all your support in 2012. We look forward to running some new challenges and events in the new year, as well as supporting our existing challenge winners.

Open your e-Christmas card www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/seasonsgreetings Christmas Tree

Happy GeoVating! and Best Wishes,

Chris, Viv, Luke and Ian


The team have been out and about over the last couple of weeks and are now back at Ordnance Survey, Southampton, planning more innovative events and challenges for the new year.

I’ve been to each of our surveyors conferences, presenting on GeoVation, OS OpenData, and OS OpenSpace.  I also participated in a lively and inspiring weekend Geography Camp, in the Peak District. Luke and Ian have completed a 4th busy series of OS OpenData Masterclasses. Ian and I and others from Ordnance Survey have worked with colleagues from Environment Agency on a one-day internal hackathon,  in Bristol. Last week Ian and I  hosted a day at Ordnance Survey for GeoVation winners, SWM Probation Trust and Food Finder and their developer teams, to look at how they will be using Ordnance Survey products and services in developing their ventures. These activities will be the subjects of some subsequent blog posts.

Meanwhile, Luke has enjoyed a long weekend in the “Big Apple” and Viv is taking a well earned holiday in Costa Rica. We are looking forward to hearing the stories and seeing the photos.

Our prize draw, for a chance of winning an Apple® iPad 64 GB or be one of five runners up who will win a VIP day at Ordnance Survey’s head office in Southampton, is still open until the end of March. We are really keen to hear  if you use OS OpenData.  If you tell us which datasets you use, and which you find useful and why, we will enter you into the prize draw.  Enter here

Season’s Greetings and enjoy your break, however you spend it!

Neighbourhood innovation winner passes it on

By , 22 November, 2012 8:00 am

Last week  Global Entrepreneurship Week was based on a theme of ‘Pass it On’.  One of the entrepreneurs they featured was innovation winner, Ed Dowding, founder of  Sustaination who was awarded £25,000 in development funding from Ordnance Survey  in our ‘How can we transform neighbourhoods in Britain?’ GeoVation Challenge.

Ed is featured in a video, which you can watch below, passing on his ‘making the leap’ tips and talking about Sustaination, a food trade network that provides real time business information and uses web technologies to make it easier for food enterprises to connect up and trade from farm to fork.

Ed advises ‘Get going [with your idea] straight away, humanity has never faced a bigger series of challenges…  the opportunity, the ability to execute on an idea has never been greater… it’s too important to waste time’.

Sustaination was awarded funding at our GeoVation Showcase in June to develop a website and app that will use Ordnance Survey data products in the implementation of the idea, something we look forward to telling you more about on the blog as this takes shape.

Innovative phone app for Community Payback

By , 20 November, 2012 8:00 am

Community Payback Visibility is a mobile app which will enable people to get involved in nominating sites for Community Payback in their neighbourhood. This innovative idea from Staffordshire and West Midlands Probation Trust was awarded £41,000 in innovation funding   in our ‘How can we transform neighbourhoods in Britain together?’ GeoVation Challenge.

Community Payback is unpaid work carried out by offenders on community service and the free mobile app will allow the public to easily nominate sites for Community Payback and  upload a photo so it can be quickly assessed by the Probation Service.  If it is suitable a work group will be sent out to carry out the work and a photo and feedback posted back on the site so people can see the effect. The app will raise awareness of Community Payback and participation in Community Payback projects.

The app is in development to be ready in spring 2013 but  the video below will give you an idea how  it should work.

Keep up to date with developments of the Community Payback Visibility app by visiting their blog or follow them on twitter @SWMCPvisibility .

Find out about our other GeoVation winners developing their ideas to transform neighbourhoods in Britain?

Putting our innovation winners on the map

By , 14 November, 2012 8:00 am

In this post you can find out how many GeoVation Challenges we’ve run, how much innovation funding has been awarded, and where our GeoVation winners are on the map!

The GeoVation initiative was started by Ordnance Survey at the end of 2009 to encourage open innovation in addressing communities’ needs where geography is a key enabler.  Since then we’ve given innovation funding to 20 new ventures so they can develop their ideas.

To date we’ve run 5 GeoVation Challenges. We believe that for innovation to succeed it needs to have its foundations in a real problem worth solving and so, after our first ‘general’ GeoVation Challenge , we’ve themed our GeoVation Challenges. We’ve posed questions intended to generate social and environmental value from the ideas submitted, such as ‘How can Britain feed itself?’, ‘How can we transform our neighbourhoods?’ and ‘How can we improve transport in Britain?’ We’ve also run more location specific challenges, such as asking how we can connect communities and visitors along the new Wales Coast Path.

Over the course of these Challenges 1448 people have registered, 509 ideas have been submitted and 57 teams have attended 4 GeoVation Camps. Participants invited to the weekend GeoVation Camp benefit from being taken through a process that prepares them to be “Match fit to Pitch”  – able to describe their idea and the problem they are solving in a 2 minute ‘pecha kucha ‘style presentation

Continue reading 'Putting our innovation winners on the map'»