A mobile app that lets you report transport problems; an Underground style map of London’s cycle routes; and a parcel delivery service that promises minute-by-minute tracking.
These are among the 10 ideas now in line to win a share of £150,000 as part of Ordnance Survey’s GeoVation Challenge aiming to improve transport in Britain.
The GeoVation Challenge is an innovation programme run by the mapping agency with support from Ideas in Transit, a five-year project funded by the Technology Strategy Board, the Department for Transport and EPSRC.
For this challenge, entrants were asked to look at travel and transport.
Dr Chris Parker, one of the initiative’s organisers, says: “There are huge and exciting opportunities for geography to be harnessed to help us all travel in a smarter, more sustainable way, as our finalists have clearly demonstrated.
“Transportation is something which has a clear geographic foundation. Everything from in-car satnavs to projects like the London Cycle Hire scheme is underpinned by an understanding of location. Both have changed the way people travel and maybe GeoVation will uncover the next innovation that will help improve our lives.”
Also among the finalists is Paul Lentz of MySociety who wants to build a mobile application called FixMyTransport. The aim is to turn frustrated travellers into ‘micro-activists’ by allowing them to easily report the location of transport problems whilst also providing the platform and tools to get bigger issues resolved.
Another entrant, Neil Taylor, is looking to take some of the stress out of journeys for disabled travellers by building a wiki-style mapping tool. The site would host official and user-generated information on the accessibility of a chosen destination, ranging from the location of wheelchair friendly bus stops to disabled parking bays.
The full list of finalists is available on the GeoVation website.
Transport Minister Mike Penning comments: “Everyone using our transport networks will have ideas about how transport can be improved. And I see enormous potential for individuals and businesses to make innovative use of publicly-held data to help people make smarter choices about the way they travel.
“This GeoVation Challenge is an exciting opportunity to harness that creativity and I am delighted by the enthusiastic response and quality of ideas.”
Richard Kemp-Harper from the Technology Strategy Board says: “It is exciting to see the entrants taking their ideas on solving transport problems and turning them into new business concepts. Many of the ideas could both have a significant impact on the way we travel and be the start of new businesses.”
All the finalists will now go forward to a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style showcase at Ordnance Survey’s new head office in Southampton on 4 May. There they will pitch to a panel of judges who will award funding to support the ideas with the greatest potential.
Many of the competition’s entrants are making use of government data, made available to encourage commercial reuse and to promote transparency and accountability.
Those datasets include central government information through data.gov.uk, including traffic, speed and congestion data from the Department for Transport.
Mapping data is also freely available via Ordnance Survey’s OS OpenData portal, whilst some information collected by local authorities has also been published. Manchester City Council, for example, has released information on the location of all car parking zones in the city.
The GeoVation Showcase on 4 May is open to the public to attend.