A reliable formula
If there were a reliable formula for innovation it might go something like this; Visionary + Nerd = Innovation. Lennon and McCartney follow this formula as do Morcombe and Wise and possibly Watson and Crick, Sonny and Sher, Michael and Bubbles… the list goes on – (and I’m not sure who was the nerd in the last pairing).
But in reality
But, in reality, you can try and match visionaries and nerds as much as you like. It’s never going to work without a few environmental factors. Geomob (the multi-national
- hosting events in inspirational spaces
- exposing our speakers to high pressure scrutiny
- soaking folks with fine ale at the local pub
A perfect combination
This week’s gathering in London (there are sister events in Barcelona, Lisbon and Munich too!) was a perfect combination. Hosted at Geovation, Ordnance Survey’s swish innovation centre in Clerkenwell, the talks were washed down with fine IPA at the Sutton Arms.
The beer influence
Initial talks all progressed upon the state of the art in key geo technologies. Deliveries were fun and sparky – yet mindful of time (that’s the beer influence and Ed’s habit of watch-gazing). We learnt about boosting the positioning accuracy of your phone (down from 5m to 1m with the Flamingo project), turning your phone into the perfect crowd data collection and surveying tool with Lutra and making super swift shared maps using nearly all the Open Geo Tools with Geolytics. The session closed with Anjin games and a demo of millions of verticies rendering each second as clear photo-real building images in highly demanding VR ‘shoot ‘em up’ games.
Admiration and envy
All these talks were met with beard stroking questions and polite applause. There was a sense of admiration and envy over coding ability tinged with bafflement over t-shirt choice from the mixed audience of government employees, geographers, consultants, blue-chippers and entrepreneurs.
A street near you
Then enter James Morley and his visionary “A street near you” on-line service. Humble about his abilities he found himself pushed out of his data management role at the Imperial War Museum. This gave him the time to fuse all he’d learnt about Geo and open source tools and join the battle map trend with the newly available War Graves Commission Data.
Circumstances of death
The Data set, largely based upon copies of the notices sent to relatives of the WW1 deceased, contained address information. James pulled together the data into a simple on-line map tool, making a service that pinned each photo and serviceman description (date of death and circumstance of death as well as their post) to a street and house number.
My local community
The tool was released in 2018 near Remembrance Day. And though he started with just the data for Ealing, the app enjoyed 240 000 hits in it’s first week. An instant success, it became the sharing tool of local historians, genealogists, schools and pretty much anyone who’d heard of the Great War and lived near a house that may have housed one of these heroes. Check it yourself! My local community are loving it even now.
Visionaries and nerds
While James’ service built upon the stable technologies of the mapping world, it was the compelling subject matter, his vision and curiosity that made him the SplashMaps best talk award this time. Never-the-less, it’s the combination of visionaries and nerds that culminate in compelling work like this. All the other projects, like the open tech projects that made ‘A street near you’ possible, push the envelope on speed, accuracy and content. They may not win the votes of the Geomob audience, but it’s these projects that pave the way for tomorrow’s visionaries and the next award ceremony.