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GeoVation supports greener business hack event

22 March 2013

A recent hack event, supported by Ordnance Survey’s GeoVation team, generated a number of innovative demos showcasing how technology can support greener business, paving the way for other budding innovators and entrepreneurs to submit their ideas to the latest GeoVation Challenge.

Over the weekend of 16-17 March, the GeoVation team supported the env[:hack] event organised by Environment Agency and Geeks of London. The event, held at the University of Bristol, attracted over 50 software and hardware developers to look at the problems associated with environmental responsibility and create some innovative demos showcasing how technology can tackle this global issue.

The weekend started with presentations from Environment Agency, which highlighted some of the barriers to business in improving environmental performance, and how this can be turned to opportunities – such as re-use of waste? This was followed by a presentation from GeoVation, where participants learnt about the latest GeoVation Challenge ‘How can we help British business improve environmental performance?’ in which successful ideas can win a slice of £100,000 to help make their idea a reality.

Following the presentations, attendees split into groups and the serious hacking commenced. A variety of datasets and services were provided to support developers, including geographic data from OS OpenData and access to the popular mapping API – OS OpenSpace. Data from the Environment Agency was also available to help participants consider the health impacts, location of pollution and the demographics.

At the end of the busy two day event, teams presented their hacks to the rest of the group and a panel of judges. Some of the presentations included:

  • The ‘Polish off a Penguin’ team developed an idea in response to a make-believe scenario: “If a boatload of penguins was to magically arrive in my neighbourhood overnight – how many of them would perish?” Their hack used data from OS OpenData, alongside datasets relating to factors such as: the climate; hazardous waste and water pollution, to highlight how different areas of Great Britain fare, in terms of living quality. To find out how many penguins would survive in your area visit the website
  • The ‘RecycleLink’ team, who were winners of both the weekends GeoVation prize and the hack community prize, came up with a service-based concept that allows small businesses and individuals to combine and sell waste through a broker, rather than to leave small waste loads uncollected and not recycled, potentially damaging the environment. The demo used OS OpenSpace as a mapping platform, allowing users of their system to visualise the results for any given area on detailed Ordnance Survey mapping. The demo can be viewed on the RecycleLink site
  • The ‘Waterwatch’ team, built an app that enables both the general public and businesses to report problems, via the web, that might exist with a watercourse at any given time. This innovative concept could be applied to combat other environmental issues we all face today. Following the event the team released the source code written to develop the app – access it here

Chris Parker, from Ordnance Survey’s GeoVation team, said: “This was a fantastic event with some amazing demos being created. Hopefully the hack event will whet the appetite for other developers to submit their ideas to our latest GeoVation Challenge.

“We are looking for ideas on how the use of geographic data can help British business improve environmental performance. It is important to remember that no idea is a bad idea, as through the GeoVation Challenge we can provide the support and expertise to develop ideas into fully working ventures. In addition, your idea could win a share of the £100,000 development prize.”

The challenge runs from 6 March to 1 May and the best ideas will be invited to a weekend GeoVation Camp from 21 – 23 June 2013, where the ideas will be developed into prototype ventures. To enter the GeoVation Challenge, visit the GeoVation website, the latest news is also available through Twitter at @GeoVation

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