Last Wednesday I took part in GeoVation Showcase, the final pitch of their Neighbourhood Challenge to win funding to tackle problems we have in our neighbourhoods. Collaborating with Emily Wilkinson we proposed an idea based on out Come To Your Senses project to help people express the concerns and passion they have for their community.
We were initially selected via an open call for ideas from which a shortlist of projects were selected to take part in a GeoVation Camp to basically explore and develop the idea into a strong and viable proposal. From here we were invited to the final Showcase which involved writing a Venture Plan and doing a five minute presentation at the Ordnance Survey headquarters in Southampton. We did not win any funding but were very happy to see the money go to support fantastic projects such as the Community Payback Visibility who won the main award of £40,000. All the final ten ideas were solid proposals, each tackling important issues in our neighbourhoods.
In short, our idea was about mapping emotions and experiences of our neighbourhoods both to help people and communities to become more self-aware and empowered but also to start collecting and analysing this data with other open data such as crime statistics to explore meaningful connections and issues. To do this we wanted to build an app and a website to go alongside our physical workshops: the app would be a digital experience collection tool which could be spread into community groups to be used as an engagement tool and the website would then visualise all these experiences on a map. We could get care workers record stories from the elderly, children to explore the are around their school via images and video and use the app in the workshops as well. The website would help give a geographical context to our experiences and create emotional cartography of areas. If you would like to hear more about this idea or collaborate on a project or joint funding bid, please get in touch!
So what did we get out of the process?
Going through the GeoVation innovation process was extremely important for us in generally opening our eyes to possibilities and opportunities we had not thought of before. This process was facilitated by the brilliant people of Nonon, a company specialising in ‘no nonsense’ innovation. They provided many tools and processes for us to use in picking apart our ideas in a constructive way – these tools included business model mapping, visual prototyping, open-minded thinking and having fun in the process!
We have started building a network of future collaborators we can do engagement projects with. These people include researchers from product & service design, human geography & planning, social sciences and experts from community engagement and public consultation. Also we met some inspiring people both at the GeoVation Camp and Showcase: one of these is the brilliant Keely Mills, another finalist from Peterborough trying to help regenerate the area via using empty shops. She was so enthusiastic that she asked us to come and work with her during the question time of our pitch – I suppose she just couldn’t wait! So we are now looking into other funding opportunities and working on a small scale to start with to help explore the project development in a sustainable way. For us not winning money for the technology is not going to stop us from going ahead with what we do – the core of our work is about artful engagement for which we know there is demand.
If you would like to know more about Come To Your Senses project, please visit our website and have a look through the blog.