A reference that will change our lives

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.

Can anything change our lives as much as the smart phone?

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?

Ed Freyfogle and presentation box
Ed Freyfogle’s business, OpenCage, invested in SplashMaps and What3Words

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: commercial pilot, ex-military and shareholder and member of Team SplashMaps

Mike’s interesting. Like all investors in SplashMaps he 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 SplashMaps cannot 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.

2014 was a fantastic Year…

I’ve been bad for not keeping you all up to date on dbyhundred activities so, as we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year, here’s a potted summary of our greatest achievements this year;

SplashMaps is 4 times the size it was last year!
SplashMaps is 4 times the size it was last year!

1) I’ve been working nearly half my time on SplashMaps!  This year we made our weatherproof fabric maps go global!  Yes you can now choose a fabric map of anywhere in the world thanks to OpenStreetMap and our work with their finest. We also won awards for our cartography and kudos from the International Cartographic Association.for our popular destination and bespoke maps.  Got 2 minutes?  Here’s what we make; http://www.splash-maps.com/splashmaps-confidence-adventure/

Home Halo; IP all sorted... we've now gone public
Home Halo; IP all sorted… we’ve now gone public

2) Another “almost” half of the year has been spent with HomeHalo creating the worlds most simple way of managing your kids internet use.  I’ve been project manager from the start, taking the idea from concept through early prototyping now to manufacture and sales.  It’s a unique combination of hardware and cloud based services and draws on all my skills for international collaborations.

Working with the motor industry to forecast trends
Working with the motor industry to forecast trends

3) More Market Research work has been completed for SBD Ltd. using my expertise and contacts in the connected vehicle sector.  I was also very pleased to work with a new dbyhundred Ltd. star researcher for the first time on making new propositions in geo-research.  Every year the connections strengthen and new sources of info are found!

A new approach to innovation supported by European money.  And I help!
A new approach to innovation supported by European money. And I help!

4) I continue to work with the expert teams in the European Commission on a range of calls around innovation and implementation of cloud infrastructures.  These are great networking opportunities for all 3 of the above as well as the work which I carry out personally and is both fascinating, rewarding and helps keeps European technology ahead of the curve.

Our Core Innovation Skills in practice for 2014

At dbyhundred Ltd. we’re enjoying a strong year of extending our core innovation skills into new areas.  In fact this years’ projects cover the diverse markets of Low Carbon Automotive, Maps, Vulnerable Road User safety, and Internet security.  As is often the case for our projects, each of these businesses are following the trends in big data and often “open” approaches to innovation and provision of data.Image

Our skills in managing innovation events have been applied to the automotive industry through our management of the Meet the Engineer event in April.

We continue to help in all aspects of start-up businesses.  Initially this year this was all about new product development for SplashMaps, but we have now taken on a brand new contract with a client launching an internet security proposition for launch next year.

Our networking and education in all aspects of the latest in “cloud” and “big data” has been boosted with 3 European Commission contracts.

2014 looks busy too with many of the current projects having significant targets toward the end of this year and the middle of next, but we are always interested to learn of new opportunities from our past, present and new clients.

Open Data is the Goose that Laid the golden Egg

Open Data really is the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg!  My favourite report on the subject so far http://www.force11.org/sites/default/files/attachments/EARSC-Study_GMES-Open-Data-Policy_Final-Report_Dec-2012.pdf. 

A nice analogy and a good set of reasons why public sector created data should be made a available FREE for anyone.

Working on the “How” they do this on a European scale is the usual challenge, particularly with the wealth of different charging structures in each member state.  But entrepreneurs will pick up quickly in the early “free” markets.  We will show how free data improves the economy for all!

We win more funding for SplashMaps!

We’ve won more funding for start-up SplashMaps!

ImageSince it started in November 2012 the idea of SplashMaps; Washable, wearable, waterproof maps designed for the REAL outdoors; has developed and captured the imagination of hard-nosed geographers and hard-core adventurers alike.

dbyhundred has contrinbuted to a lot of this success;

  • You could say our second success was breaking even this month!
  • And our third has just come in!  The Technology Strategy Board has just approved our application for an Innovation Voucher!  This gives us the funding we need to refine our customer centred web design.  Soon users will be able to select their preferred mapping area, automatically input their own data overlays and change titles and branding to make a totally unique map to their specification.

dbyhundred is proud to have been here for the start of this exciting business and to have helped make a reality out of a compelling idea.

Busses shine through as Innovation platforms for Low Carbon Technologies

Last week I managed two innovation events designed to grow the potential for Low Carbon automotive technologies in this country.


At the Automotive Council’s “Meet the Engineer event” we lined up 18 companies  to present their technologies before an audience of the main car manufacurers and their suppliers in this country.  Each technology had significant potential for reducing carbon emissions throughout all automotive applications.  But the noticable common factor amongst most of the technologists is their preference for using busses as the proving ground for their innovations.

Why is this?

1) Busses are manufactured in Low volumes.  This means they can benefit from earlier stages of production of the Low C technology.  By contrast, production cars require the technology to be proven and then reproduced, faultlessless, many thousands of times on the production line.

2) Busses are big and therefore can adopt a technology before development has miniturised the invention.

3) Busses have larger engines and therefore the greatest potential for improvements in performance.

4)  Already busses (and particularly coaches) are recognised as the lowest carbon choice in public transport. 

So it was a privilage that we had the forthcoming hybrid Boris Bus from Wrightbus proudly parked in front of the exceptional Concept 1 venue at Millbrook last week. 


Pecha Kucha as a Radar and for Networking

With Productiv I am helping to facilitate a number of Pecha Kucha’s over the next two weeks at 2 significant Industry events.

1) The “Meet the Engineer” event at the Millbrook proving ground is sponsored by the Automotive Council and will bring together technologists and the main producers of autos in this country.  With facilitated networking throughout the day and 20 Pecha Kucha presentaitons, this event is specifically designed to create opportunities in Low Carbon technologies.

2) The more intimate Productiv Radar club.  Our members will see a number of Pecha Kuchas and guest presentations as inspiration for considering future investments and collaboration.

Naturally our presenters will want some guidance on the best Pecha Kucha presentations.  Of course we are sending them our chosen formula… but here is additional inspiration.

1) Pecha Kucha used to communicate design at Nissan

2) A nice clear Pecha Kucha on Pecha Kucha!  Remember ours is 15 slides… 5 minutes.

3) An amusing Pecha Kucha on established versus new systems suppliers

I hope these are of use and please add to the list to help me and our presenters!

Good luck!


Our Geographical Names Service gets published!

I project managed the implementation of EuroGeoNames, Europes first pan-European geographical names infrastructure that adopted the Web Feature Service Standard and met all requirements of the INSPIRE legislation.


So good to see our Geographical Names Service get published, this time on the Proceedings of the International Cartographic Conference


10 improvements to Horizon 2020 funding

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.

Horizon 2020

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.

7) Initiatives that support growth markets where we used to be a world leader (mobile gaming, computer games etc.)… And those where we are… (Location Information for the growing context aware application market).

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?


dbyhundred Advising on Data in Europe

Thes20110331 Balloon launch at ESDIN Closinge 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!