Finalists announced in Geovation water challenge

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Geovation water challenge over the last few months. Whether you submitted an idea, voted, came along to the masterclass, or even spread the Geovation message on your social channels, it’s all appreciated. Following the close of the challenge last month, the judging panel have now selected a short-list of 10 finalists who have been invited to develop their ideas further at Geovation Camp. They’ll be joining us at OS head office in Southampton over the weekend of 4-6 March.


Meet the Geovation finalists

Fix my river – an idea to ask people on the street to inform relevant authorities of problems by extending a site like fixmystreet.com to include river pollution, flooding, overflowing drains and breach hotspots.

Missed connections identification – the use of optical brighteners has been 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.

Refillable Cities – based on the model pioneered by Refill Bristol, Refillable Cities would see every city and town in the UK reduce its dependency on plastic-bottled water. The aim is to change the mind-set of the public when it comes to single-use plastics and stem the flow of plastic litter reaching our oceans.  Refill Bristol has refill points on every street, via cafes, retailers, hotels and businesses as well as installing more water fountains at key locations around the city. Once established, the campaign can be rolled out in cities nationwide.


Interactive sandbox flood management – an idea to create an interactive playbox which mixes layers of physical data with visual animation and feedback. The real-life sand in the box can be played with and the data is fed into the computer. The software processes parameters such as the height of the sand and hand motions made by the users; and then projects back onto the sand visual geographical information, including elevation, contour lines, rainfall and water flow simulation. The fun playful element of a real sandbox combined with motion capture and other modern technology, utilising a science-led approach and geographical information is confident to be widely attractive.

Plastic flotsam and jetsam – an app to allow citizen scientists and beachcombers to record instances of plastics being washed up on-shore, and place them on a map. People are already forming Facebook groups for their local area to share finds and ask for help in identifying objects being washed up. Adding a spatial element, and allowing the data to be downloaded, would allow a more detailed picture of the problem to emerge. 

Natural flood mitigation – create a national map of the areas where ‘natural’ flood mitigation measures (such as meandering, afforestation, drain blocking, restoring wetlands and washlands) might be employed whilst minimising the impact on existing economic activities. The map would use topographic, land cover and soils data, coupled with agricultural and urban land use information, to rate the opportunity value. This could be extended by mapping the economic cost-benefit. The map should be made available for free online to inform flood managers and community groups in their approaches to land managers and implement schemes at the catchment scale. The map should also be used to identify areas where there would be further benefits. 

Landstory.io – this is a digital platform and physical network to facilitate co-operation and collaboration between the public, private and community sectors. The platform will map and build a picture of the human and physical landscape to enable the implementation of social, ecological and financially beneficial landscape interventions. The purpose is the regeneration of landscape resources and subsequently, the mitigation of critical water related issues in the UK.   The team will be to build a replicable and scalable model which can be integrated into schools, universities and community groups to empower the next generation to adopt and innovate in relation to water issues.

Poo Mapping – A fix to identify sewer blockages, misconnections and near-overflowing sewer levels. Waterproof radio frequency identifier tags will be flushed down toilets and drains to help map sewage; mapping will be enabled by wireless transmitters and receivers, and sensitive to tracking unwanted sewage routes into rivers and sea outlets.

Understanding your water world – An online hub for schools, clubs and organisations to download and upload collected water-related data from backyards through an app and online data store. Factsheets on the water cycle and how water resources differ under different climates, land uses and timescales, and suggestions on how data can be collected will be shared, to encourage sustainable management of water.

Tree Health as a water quality indicator – A monitoring and understanding of health of trees in riparian, estuarine and coastal areas to provide insight to where water quality is an issue and to identify patterns in change of quality.

Geovation Camp

During the Geovation Camp weekend the teams will have the opportunity to develop their ideas into a prototyped venture and to build a pitch. On Sunday they will pitch their ideas to the judging panel and assembled audience. At the end of the Camp we’ll decide the three winning ideas that will go on to our funded Geovation Programme in April 2016.

Participants at camp will also be able to vote for their favourite idea to receive the £1,000 Community Award prize.

You can read more about the ideas and continue to comment on them here.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Emma,

    I’ve been invited to the camp as a finalist for my idea of using tree health as an indicator of water quality. Will this blog posted be updatedone to include my submission too?



    1. Hi Ian

      Yes, sorry for the delay in replying. We’ve had three changes to the Geovation Camp line-up and I’ll update the blog shortly to reflect that. Thanks, Gemma

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