Realise your bike idea with £150,000 stimulus funding

Ideas in Transit stumps up £125,000 to boost GeoVation Challenge prize fund. What was a £25,000 pot for the best idea to improve transport in Britain has now been raised to £150,000. The idea must be geography-based rather than just ‘get more people on bikes’ or ‘solve congestion, give £5000 each to rich buyers of electric cars’. 66 ideas have been submitted so far, some of them fanciful (hovercars, anyone?); some of them practical and packed with geo-spatial goodness.

The £25,000 GeoVation Challenge was launched in September and earlier this week was given a massive cash boost by Ideas in Transit, a project funded by the Technology Strategy Board, the Department for Transport and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

We all travel and we are all transport users. Travel and transport are key to businesses and central to our way of life. But many aspects of transportation clearly have significant environmental, social and economic impacts. As users, what innovative ideas, using geographic information and other technology, can we suggest that helps reduce those impacts, changes our behaviour, and improves the overall experience? – that’s the GeoVation Challenge!

The Ideas in Transit project is a collaboration between the University of the West of England, Loughborough University, ITO World Ltd and Ordnance Survey. It seeks to apply “bottom-up” innovations to the transport challenges faced by individuals and society, such as congestion.

Professor Glenn Lyons of the University of the West of England said: “The project aims to promote the understanding, awareness and development of user innovations relevant to transport. I’m excited about the ideas we might uncover.”

Not all of the 66 ideas so far submitted are achievable, even with seed-funding of £150,000. w3g1 would like to see the creation of Hovercars.

w3g1 isn’t a pseudonym for transport secretary Phillip ‘Hoverboard’ Hammond is it? Probably not, w3g1 also wants to ‘Stop cars parking in bike lanes’.

One of the best ideas submitted to date is that of geographer and map specialist Oliver O’Brien with his ‘Innovative mapping of UK bike share schemes’.

“I have developed a map of usage of the London bike share scheme (“Barclays Cycle Hire”) and some associated graphs, but would like to develop the visualisation further, for other UK schemes (e.g. Cardiff, Reading) and to show more useful information on the map itself, such as the current trend for each dock, the “type” of the dock, i.e. normal expected behaviour at this time of day, so that unusual events and patterns can be spotted, perhaps adding live weather information too.”

O’Brien’s visualisation maps are things of living beauty. The London map, like the others on his website, uses OpenStreetMaps. What will Ordnance Survey make of an entry using an open-source rival?

Perhaps Bike Hub should submit an idea, too? We could make our iPhone ‘satnav for cyclists’ app even better, but that too uses OpenStreetMap.

Perhaps Cyclestreets – which also uses OpenStreetMap – could submit an idea on using OS mapping for its routing engine?

If you have a geo-spatial idea you’d like to see get off the ground, submit away.
The closing date for the challenge is 26th November.

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