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Ordnance Survey announces GeoVation for 2010

Ordnance Survey is to launch this year’s GeoVation Challenge recently at a government science and innovation event in London.

This year’s programme will ask entrepreneurs, developers and community groups to focus their efforts on using geography to address three distinct challenges. The first of which is ‘Can Britain feed itself?’, where geography can play a key role in helping people connect to locally produced and sustainable sources of food.

Those with ideas are being encouraged to share them on a newly redesigned GeoVation website, where users can rate, comment and collaborate on each other’s contributions. There will also be a series of workshops to develop real prototype ideas later in the summer.

In a seminar at ‘Science and Innovation 2010’, the mapping agency will spell out its open innovation offering, namely its recently launched OS OpenData portal, the OS OpenSpace API and the community that has grown out of last year’s inaugural GeoVation programme.

John Sheridan, who was instrumental in the launch of Data.gov.uk, will be speaking about his role and the current enthusiasm within government to make more public data available online.

Agrarian Renaissance, an organisation seeking to reconnect local farmers to their communities, will also give a presentation, as will Warwickshire County Council. The Council has recently started its own open data competition, entitled ‘Hack Warwickshire’, where citizens are invited to tell the Council how services could be improved.

Chris Parker, one of the programme organisers, comments: “GeoVation this year is all about focusing on key areas where we think geography can play a positive role in enabling change. With the global challenge of climate change we have a responsibility to be sourcing our food in a more sustainable way. By providing a location context, geography can help producers and consumers connect with each other in a way that’s not been possible before.”

Sam Henderson, of Agrarian Renaissance, says: “During 2007 and 2008 the world experienced a global food crisis, possibly the first genuinely global food crisis ever. In the UK, this prompted the government to seriously think about food and food policy for the first time in fifty years. The clever manipulation of geographic data could transform what is possible for farming in this country, and it is incredibly exciting to be involved in GeoVation.”

Since the last GeoVation programme in October, Ordnance Survey has released a wide range of mapping, boundary and postcode data for free through the OS OpenData portal. It hopes that this will act as a catalyst for increased innovation through this year’s competition, and there will be a special OS OpenData category to celebrate the best uses.

“People are free to use any data from any source, but with the release of OS OpenData in April, I believe Ordnance Survey now has many of the necessary ingredients to enable genuine, open and mass innovation,” adds Parker.

“We’re also seeing the idea of data openness and transparency gaining momentum within government; and with more and more data available, the greater opportunity there is for someone to create something really special.”

The GeoVation challenge of ‘Can Britain feed itself’ is just the first in a series of three, with the second and third to be announced later this year.

Anyone interested in being a part of GeoVation should visit: www.geovation.org.uk/challenge/

You can also read more on the Ordnance Survey and GeoVation blogs.


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