Government funds innovative data projects

New systems designed to highlight the safest roads for cyclists to use, create a database of all the UK’s trees, and launch a mapping system to help people find their way around public buildings, could soon be created by a government competition designed to find new ways to use data.

In November, the minister for implementation Oliver Dowden announced a £1.5 million competition to help organisations find innovative ways to use crowdsourcing and location-based data.

Among the 10 winners are schemes including:

• Communitree - a Scottish project to collect data on trees from across the UK to create a publicly-accessible database.
• Ride - a London-based project to help cyclists find the safest routes around busy cities.
• Pinpoint - a project to create an indoor mapping system to help people find their way around complex public buildings, such as hospitals and universities.

Dowden said: “We are investing in location-based data technology to improve public services and the way people experience them.”

The organisations have been awarded funding through the crowdsourcing competition, which was led by the government’s Geospatial Commission, in partnership with Innovate UK. The Geospatial Commission is an impartial, expert committee within the Cabinet Office, set up in April 2018 and supported by £80 million of funding.

The commission has been set up to drive the use of location-linked data more productively, to unlock up to £11 billion of extra value for the economy every year. It is currently developing the UK’s national geospatial strategy, that it will publish at the end of this year.

Also receiving funding are projects to highlight mobile phone signal blackspots, help tackle travel problems experienced by disabled people, and boost public understanding of the planning system.

The projects will be worked on by organisations across the UK and see research carried out by University College London, the University of Warwick, the University of Exeter and the Open University.

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