Crowdsourcing Geospatial Innovations for Better Public Services

Published Jun-11-19

A project to help people move safely around big cities and other innovative ways to use crowdsourcing and location-based data.

Geospatial Commission/Innovate UK, United Kingdom

The Story:

Crowdsourcing Geospatial Innovations for Better Public Services In August 2018 the UK's Cabinet Office published a report on the economic opportunities presented by geospatial data (also known as spatial data). This is information that identifies the geographic location, size and shape in space of objects The analysis suggested the government could unlock up to £6-11 billion per year of economic value with better use of geospatial data in the public sector. Among the recommendations for going forward were improving the accessibility and quality of data and opening more government geospatial data.

To help realize opportunities and to test the crowdsourcing of geospatial data in this sector the Geospatial Commission together with Innovate UK launched a government open innovation competition. It challenged participating organizations to work together to identify novel ways for crowdsourcing data to:

• Improve the delivery of public services.
• Support the third sector (the voluntary or community sector).
• Enhance the quality of open datasets.

Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden, said: “The data revolution is changing our day-to-day lives and this government is determined to make the most of the opportunities it presents.”

Novel Ideas

Following the three-month submission period and subsequent assessment phase 10 projects were selected to share a £1.5 million prize fund to realize and further develop their ideas. Among them were:

StreetFocus - automatically identifies infrastructural issues to help communities better maintain their local areas.

Precision Indoor Positioning Information system (Pinpoint) – using existing Wi-Fi networks and smartphone sensors to help people navigate public buildings. It is a sat-nav-like system for indoors.

Ride - a project to help people find the safest routes around busy cities.

Communitree - an initiative to develop a comprehensive database of all of the trees in the UK.

Generating crowdsourcing geospatial data – a project that will look at how data can be collected and used to improve accessibility to transportation for disabled people.

Transforming the Future

The projects will be worked on by organizations up and down the UK and progress and potential challenges will be studied by several universities. They include University College London and the University of Exeter.

By harnessing crowdsourcing, creative brainpower, location data and geospatial technology, the UK government hopes to transform services right across the country.

“We are investing in location-based data technology to improve public services and the way people experience them,” added Dowden. “I’m delighted to see such innovative ideas come forward, which will help people in their everyday lives and keep the UK at the forefront of this exciting new technology.”

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