Was the Smart Phone really the last really big innovation with the potential to change our lives? A generation of digital natives growing-up alongside the rapid evolution of services and entertainment on mobiles seems to suggest it was. I used to track the technology and all it’s convergences as our small innovation team at Ordnance Survey awaited a platform that could do justice to our suite of location based games and augmented reality demonstrations.
Apple emerged with the innovation. Nothing new; but just a neat bringing together of current technologies in a different way that made sense to any user.
So is it the wizardry of the solid state technology and the services that run on them that really change our lives?
I always thought so. As an occasional reader of all the Geo journals I get (Geographica, the Royal Geographic Society‘s Geographical Journal and the Bulletins from BCS and the Society of Cartographers) you get used to academic proposals that pique interest but really never get the impact to change the world (or how it’s measured or referenced).
But that changed this lunch time.
I was surprised when a pilot friend of mine phoned to asked me “have you heard about these What3Words” guys?
Slightly taken aback as it normally takes some time (almost centuries) for a new geographical reference system to get the nod from academia, adoption by business and then enter the mainstream to pique the interest of a commercial airline pilot.
“Well yes” I replied. “Our Angel investor has a stake in it, the guy who designed the user interface for SplashMaps is employed by them and they, like SplashMaps, are a co-sponsor of our Geomob gatherings in London”.
“Oh”… he said “Do you know what this means?”
I waited and listened with increasing excitement as I realised that the talks I’d seen and the articles I’d read about this 3 year old business were now being faithfully interpreted into a clear set of benefits that anyone could buy.
Mike’s interesting. Like all investors in SplashMapshe has an eye for potential.
As a pilot with a background in the military he’s well aware that not knowing where you are is a common route to most disasters. The W3W approach to “naming” every 3m square on the planet means the same reference can be made for his craft as it takes off, advances around the world and eventually lines up with a gantry at LHR. Accurately. The idea is brilliantly simple and infinitely extendible to all areas of life where a common meeting point is needed. So what can I do? How about for a start;-
Like most Geo Businesses SplashMapscannot afford to be behind the curve. Already Splashmaps is streets ahead of most with our map interface that lets you choose anywhere in the planet by name, post code and by reference to a viewer map and preview. We can add a What3Words finder to this and people can get even more specific about start, finish and meeting points. Perhaps there’s even demand for a sub-heading in the titles of our map?
Mine would say Refreshed.Butlers.Enveloped
The amazing coverage this “behind the scenes” reference concept gets in the press is testament to the team behind the project and the excellent backers they’ve been able to attract. A reference that will change our lives? I recon so.
Next week is a big week for dbyhundred. In our contract with Productiv we are facilitating events that will boost the Innovation capability of the UK in Low Carbon automotive technologies.
We’ve put together a great programme specifically designed to get the network of large and small businesses properly interconnected.
On Tuesday 23rd it’s “Meet the Engineer” (MtE); a large industry event for which I’ve planned Pecha Kuchas and Speed dating to break down the barriers (see the Press Release Below). Who’s taking part? Jaguar, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Williams, Lotus, Morgan plus more than 50 other auto manufacturers and key suppliers… and some highly innovative technologists!
Then on Wednesday 24th the select members of Productiv’s Radar Club will convene to build on the MtE stimulus and new Sensor and Big Data technologies. We’ll be working out what all this means in our industry and help our members make the right investments in Low Carbon technologies. Guests include IBM, Plessey and McLaren (of F1 fame) and a host of sensor tech companies.
NEWS FROM MILLBROOK PROVING GROUND
MILLBROOK PROVING GROUND HOSTS MEET THE ENGINEER EVENT
Millbrook Proving Ground are hosting the third annual ‘Meet the Engineer’ on 23 April on behalf of the joint Government and industry body, the Automotive Council UK. Developing a stronger and more competitive supply chain is one of the Automotive Council’s key priorities.
Following the success of last year’s event, which saw over 30 technology development companies represented and more than 100 requests for follow ups made by vehicle manufacturers and other large companies in the automotive supply chain.
The ‘Meet the Engineer’ day will see technology developers present opportunities for development, investment and involvement in the latest low carbon automotive technologies, and hopes to encourage interaction and collaboration between engineers of large companies and small UK-based technology development companies.
Presentations will be grouped under the Automotive Council’s strategic technologies, which include ‘Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Efficiency’, ‘Energy Storage & Management’, ‘Electric Machines & Power Electronics’ and ‘Lightweight Materials & Structures’.
The feedback from last year’s event was very positive and the event led to a number of collaborations and advancements. Engineers from several UK automotive companies will be among the 60 OEMs, engineers and influencers attending ‘Meet the Engineer’. Technology developers will have the perfect opportunity to promote their innovative technologies to the automotive engineering industry.
Productiv, a business dedicated to industrialising Low Carbon technologies, is facilitating this innovative event to optimise networking opportunities between technologists and the established automotive manufacturers and suppliers.
Peter Stoker, group head of vehicle engineering at Millbrook Proving Ground explains: “As the UK’s leading location for the testing and development of low carbon vehicles, working with many vehicle manufacturers across a variety of markets, from motorcycles and passenger cars to buses and trucks, Millbrook is the ideal location to hold this year’s ‘Meet the Engineer’ event.”
“We are looking forward to welcoming engineers and technology companies on site at Millbrook for another successful event organised and held by the Automotive Council.”
In the past two weeks I’ve been looking at plans for Horizon 2020, contributing to the consultation and sounding out experts from across Europe. We have plenty of time to look at it. It will launch only once the budget has been voted for. The earliest we can expect a launch will be at the end of 2014. But consultation is only possible now for 1 month to try and effect it’s construction.
In my experience of this consultation there is plenty for the Commission to work with. Here is my prescription for a successful funding scheme;
1) Make it properly SME friendly. If you’re small you don’t want your best chance of funding to be an enormous integrated project headed by one of the 5 typical system integrators in Europe ( or nearby). Most innovation comes from SMEs and often it comes from their own development. So quicker smaller solo or small group SME schemes please!
2) Some of the recent calls have been so heavily over subscribed that there is merely a 10 or 20% chance of success. This follows a very heavy application process. So please, let’s have a two stage process. A short and simple application, and more rigour demanded at the later stage of the application.
3) Less prescriptive calls. All projects are judged on their ability to advance the state of the art. Almost by definition this rules out the radical and can only accommodate the incremental innovations. Broad areas of societal challenge should be the limit of a call description.
4) More initiatives that encourage bottom-up innovation. The funding from the commission is already creating networks of excellence, but simple event led innovation incubators and networks would bring out much more innovation.
5) Broad trends like volunteer data need to be targeted and encouraged. The networked society is still an under utilised asset in Europe.
6) Initiatives to break the US dominance in social networks and the centralisation that happens to our data over there.
8) Initiatives that scale up the top class innovations from home countries rather than the default of selling out to non-European corporates. See Productiv in the UK. In this way we keep the essential skills and the greater part of the returns within Europe.
9) The EC needs to track the effectivity of these investments more effectively. How many businesses have prospered from post project activity? What contribution to the GDP? Actively engage the project community and use the dialogue to find “what happened next” and use this to quash the cynical.
10) Embrace the crowd funding trends. Why let a small group of experts vote when a large group can vote with their own funds?
These were my 10 for an improved funding structure in Europe. What are yours?
These days I spend quite a lot of time advising on data in Europe.
This week I’m in Brussels again; learning and helping with Cloud based collaborative projects.
Next week I’m back again for more!
On Friday next week I get to meet Marta Nagy-Rothengass, Head of Unit, European Commission DG CONNECT, DATA VALUE CHAIN in London as an expert in the field of Data. She’s seeking my views as an innovative start-up (SplashMaps) doing great things with Open Data and hopefully this will help on shaping R&D priorities of the Horizon 2020 work programme.
And on the 23rd of April I’ll be facilitating the Automotive Council and BIS sponsored event “Meet the Engineer!” innovation event.
On 24th April I will bring sensor technologies to the Automotive world as we explore what data can bring to Low Carbon vehicle technology with Productiv and their Radar club!
…and there should be time to launch a few more SplashMaps along the way!
Dbyhundred has had a very busy end of 2012 and beginning of 2013.
1. Dbyhundred is managing the marketing, PR and General Management for start-up, SplashMaps. In an beautifully coordinated piece of marketing we ran a campaign of Radio and TV PR for the business which uses crowd sourced and open data to make maps for the REAL outdoors.
The campaign was entirely “below the line”. It was tailored firstly to attract investment, achieving its target of £8000 from a community of 101 backers, and secondly to boost sales of the first two mapping areas, achieving the target of £2000 worth of sales and new distribution channels.
See the coverage of SplashMaps from the BBC. This was broadcast 6 times on the eve of the Outdoors Show. A staggering response in on-line sales and enthusiasm at the show demonstrate that this project has significant potential! https://www.youtube.com/embed/74iISyC6rB0
2. With Productiv we are helping with the industrialisation of low Carbon technology. David has taken the role of Innovation Manager. The plan is to boost the effectivity of the community of members, technologists and suppliers and users of Low C automotive technology.
3. Market research by dbyhundred has helped shape a business model for a new business developing safety systems for vulnerable road users. This bespoke work has now recommended targets and approaches for developing and implementing the technology and defining it as a proposition. “David’s work has given me amazing insight and confidence in my market strategy”, says Mike Walker, CycleSafe CEO.
2013 is busy, exciting and full of potential at dbyhundred! Please contact us for bidding, project management and location technologies. 07876 390 656.
“SplashMapsTM”; the latest technologies for the REAL outdoors no longer need batteries!
Hampshire based start-up SplashMapsTM begins a world-wide campaign to put stunningly practical maps into the hands of outdoor adventurers. By creating its own state-of-the art maps on waterproof, washable, and wearable fabrics the company makes maps designed for the REAL outdoors. With the latest in high performance fabrics and print technology the maps withstand the extremes of our weather and never need the delicate and frustrating folds you find in traditional paper and laminated maps.
But the novelty does not end there as Managing Director, David Overton, explains.
“Ordnance Survey (OS) have recently released some excellent digital data under their Open Data agreement” he said. “This has allowed us to combine OS data with the OpenStreetMap data to provide a totally new product that we can tailor to any outdoor adventurer’s needs!”.
The OpenStreetMap (OSM) is the Wikipedia of the mapping world, with all the data coming from “the crowd”. With its origins in the UK but now a global phenomenon, mapping enthusiasts are constantly updating the OSM database with highly detailed and increasingly reliable mapping in digital format. “The data we use is in a vector form,” says fellow Director, Arnulf Christl. “This means we can switch on and switch off certain types of content dependent upon the end use of the map. We can change colours and symbols used in the map and so are not restricted to the “normal” look of a paper map. We can even tailor the scale of the map dependent on how far you want to travel in your hobby…”, ever gone off the edge of a map whilst running or cycling? “…and we have developed technology that will allow users to select the point upon which to centre the map.”
As the OpenStreetMap is a truly global phenomenon, the business’ ambitions do not stop at our own shores. “There is a ready market in outdoor adventures and it’s growing fast,” says Overton. “Our research shows that mountain bikers and walkers prefer a scale somewhere between the two scales typically used in paper maps, so for our initial maps in the UK we are going for 1:40 000 and rolling out our first map in the New Forest”. And part of the beauty of this map is that you can always keep it close to hand by stuffing it in a sleeve, up your shorts or tying it around your head as a bandana, or your neck like a scarf.
The company plans to provide maps for each of the 15 national parks of Great Britain by April, by which time the user will be able to select anywhere in the country. Within 2013 the global offering will extend the company’s reach and international interest is already gathering pace.
“Already I am getting mail from enthusiasts in the USA who want to walk some of our great national trails in the UK” says Overton. “In fact we have even been asked to provide the map for the GeoNext conference in Australia”. Martin Von Wyss, the event organiser said he wants the map as the SplashMaps’ use of open and volunteered data “…represents a clever spin on the difficulty of publishing and distributing maps these days.” Indeed the potential for SplashMaps has now been spotted by the World Bank in humanitarian applications in Africa. Mark Iliffe, World Bank Geospatial Innovation Consultant said of the maps, “The paper maps produced just don’t stand-up in that environment, having something like a Splashmap would be fantastic.”
Overton showed SplashMapsTM to the mapping and technology experts at University College London for the recent #geomob gathering. At the event Gary Gale, Director of Places for Nokia, co-founder of WhereCamp EU: “It’s maptastic” and “Nice to see SplashMapsTM as a real tangible thing to hold, even if it is a prototype it’s still impressive”.
SplashMapsTM is being crowd-funded, and is one of the first ideas in the UK to use the Kickstarter platform to raise funds. The process is simple; if you like the idea of a SplashMapsTM, for example, you can make a pledge via the Kickstarter web site (just follow www.splashmaps.co.uk). Each pledge (anything between £1 and £750) gets a reward dependent upon how much is pledged. On the whole, you get a very good deal for making your pledge (thanks, maps, unique maps and invitations to a launch party are some of the rewards). But more importantly you’ll get a rosy glow of pride from supporting a fledgling innovative business and the open and volunteer data eco-systems it supports. If the company is successful in reaching its funding target those that made the pledges reap the rewards and SplashMapsTM gets some useful funds to develop the back-office technology and fund the early print-runs.
“This is a truly innovative project. We’re embracing the wisdom of crowds in both our funding and in our data content. Normally open data is only seen in digital applications. But by creating these maps we are[D1] making the open data ‘Tangible’ in order for people to see the value of the OpenStreetMap and the real benefits Tim Berners-Lee envisaged of open data initiatives at places like the Ordnance Survey,” says Overton. “We are also working to encourage more contributors to the OSM to ensure this valuable resource becomes the best source of consistent mapping across the globe”.
Other quotations from key people in the geo-technology market:
Ed Parsons, the Geospatial Technologist of Google: “Great stuff .. can’t wait to use my SplashMap – Good luck David and Arnulf !!”
Ian Holt, Geospatial Developer Evangelist, Ordnance Survey “Ever thought that your nice walking map is big, awkward, gets soggy in the rain, cannot possibly be folded back into its original shape? Well what you need is a map from the guys at Splashmaps!”
Jennifer Allen, Business Analyst at Nokia “I like maps. And I like when people do clever things with them too.”
SplashMapsTM is a Limited company based in Chandlers Ford Hampshire and was incorporated in November 2012.
David Overton was the Innovation Manager at Ordnance Survey before starting his own consultancy, dbyhundred Ltd in 2009. Since then he has been consulting, project and bid managing on some of the most influential European projects concerning geographic information. Recent successes include winning the Geospatial World Forum award for implementing European spatial data policy with the ESDIN project (a European Spatial Data Infrastructure) and successfully winning a bid for a Euro 14M expansion of this work to create a European Location Framework together involving 30 partners.
Arnulf Christl is a spatial systems architect and has worked around making digital maps for two decades. He is an Open Source advocate and charter member of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation which he co-founded in 2006. Since OSGeo’s inception he helped to shape the organization as a member of the board of directors and was OSGeo’s president in the past four years. Outside this volunteer time he consults to National Mapping Agencies around the world helping them to design, set up and organize map and data services to serve the public interest.
Those that love to Adventure outdoors – They can be the first own the first leisure maps designed for the REAL outdoors!
Those that love Open Data– See the first solid state product based upon this phenomenon! Their support helps us create the tools that make the data ever more accessable and usable.
Those that support the outdoor adventure market – These maps fit in with initiatives and events that get people outdoors and active; SplashMaps is an ideal opportunity to get these initiatives associated with something truly innovative.
Those involved in Volunteer Data – SplashMaps represents a new way to get people engaged in the updates