ManagePlaces: Location-based management system used by conservationists is UK champion in global satellite data innovation hunt

  • A geo-location project management tool used by conservationists to maintain nature reserves claims top prize in the UK arm of European Satellite Navigation Competition (UKSNC).
  • Judging the entries were key representatives from UKSNC organiser the University of Nottingham, and competition sponsors the Satellite Application Catapult, the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Space Agency, CGI, EADS Astrium and the ESA Business Incubation Centre at Harwell.

November 05, 2013 -- A project management tool for remote team working has been chosen by space industry heads as the most promising new UK business using satellite data. The tool is used by wildlife park managers to host geo-tagged uploads from mobile devices and sensors in conversation work, and alongside a crowds-sourced tiger stripe recognition system developed by Tiger Nation to involve the public in conservation work in India. Developed in Surrey, ManagePlaces, was announced last night as the UK winner of the European Satellite Navigation Competition at a global awards ceremony in Munich. The runner up in the UK Category was TeamSurv, another crowd sourced system, which draws data from hundreds of ships and maps to chart the large proportion of our seas that are inadequately unsurveyed.

The UKSNC is part of a global competition aimed at stimulating new innovations in satellite navigation for use in technologies like smart phone apps and location-based services. 722 business ideas from around the world were put before judging panels in over 25 countries, of which 93 were from the UK, the highest number for any single territory.

This year's UK winner, ManagePlaces ( http://www.manageplaces.com) allows users to upload documents to the cloud which are tagged with a position so other members of the team can view all the information relevant to any particular location from any tablet or portable device. Though relevant to any business that sees a value in connecting people with the places they manage, the software has been particularly popular in the conservation sector. It is currently being used by wildlife trusts and mineral extraction companies, including Aggregate Industries, alongside sensor networks on the ground that collect data on rainfall and temperature and other recordings, to create a conservation land management tool for improving wildlife habitats and protecting and maintaining biodiversity in sites of scientific interest or outstanding natural beauty.

In India, ManagePlaces is being used by Tiger Nation who has connected it to a unique tiger stripe image recognition system so tourists’ photos are analysed and matched with their location to chart the location and movement of individual tigers.

ManagePlaces founder Georgios Michalakidis said: "Whilst never intended as a conservation tool, since going to market we have had many different industries approach us with a need that we can now cater for. We are always coming across managers in industries we never imagined our product having applications saying “Hey! This solves my problem too”. With our success in this competition and the support and advice on issues like IP from the expert sponsors we plan to tailor our software to serve some of these new markets. We are already starting to use the system for asset tracking, whilst in farming Manage Places could be used to record crop information and plan harvesting activities."

ManagePlaces was founded in 2009 by data analysts and Computing PhD students Georgios Michalakidis, Aaron Mason and Alfie Simmons following funding from University of Surrey and the Technology Strategy Board. As the new UKSNC champions, ManagePlaces will receive £5,000 in cash and the same amount again in business support including office space, patent advice, and introductions to industry partners and funding opportunities.

The runner up in the UK category, TeamSurv, was set up by Tim Thornton, a marine navigation and GIS expert, who will receive £1000 as part of his prize, alongside additional business, technical, legal and financial advice. Tim plans to put the money into continuing to grow his fleet of vessels which provide data from their depth instruments and GPS data. These measurements are corrected for factors such as tide height, and combined to map the hills and valleys of the underwater topography. The information collected is not just vital for safe navigation but also for many other applications, including monitoring erosion around underwater cables or wind farms, feeding into models for climate change research and influencing decisions on where to put fish farms.

The UK Satellite Navigation Competition is run by the University of Nottingham’s GNSS Research and Applications Centre of Excellence (GRACE) with support from a variety of sponsors from the UK space sector including UK Space Agency, the Technology Strategy Board, Satellite Applications Catapult, EADS Astrium, CGI, the Science and Technologies Facilities Council, The Royal Institution of Navigation, Inmarsat, The University of Surrey and Swindell and Pearson. From next year the competition will be run collaboratively between the Satellite Applications Catapult and the University of Nottingham. Other sponsors will continue to provide the route for many of the ideas submitted to the competition to be turned into new businesses.  

Quotes

Stuart Martin, CEO at Satellite Applications Catapult said: "ManagePlaces have proposed a simple solution to managing large complex data sets by filtering data to the users location in the field. Whilst other businesses are working to a similar concept this is a clear thought out tool that is versatile enough to be used in a wide variety of sectors and is backed by a motivated and knowledgeable team. By combining an excellent understanding of the application of geolocation data with great insights into the increasing need for flexibility in the modern workplace, ManagePlaces are exactly the type of exciting young business this competition and the Catapult was set up to support."

Prof Terry Moore, Director of GRACE, at the University of Nottingham said: "As one our fastest growing industrial areas, UK space is a great sector to be part of right now. With a strong academic based centred around the Geospatial Institute here in Nottingham, and a thriving industrial base employing over 29,000 workers and generating over £9billion for the UK economy, everything is in place for the UK to build on its already world leading position. As the recognition of the potential in this sector grows so does the quality of entries we see through UKSNC. It’s clear the more common place use of satellite navigation amongst the wider population is starting to stimulate new and novel ideas around what "location data" could be used to do."

Tim Just, ‎Head of Space at Technology Strategy Board said: "The is a new Golden Age of space, with this data and technology much more accessible. The Government's ambition for growth in the space sector is based on many new services, users and companies exploiting the now ubiquitous infrastructure that the space sector already provides, most notably in satellite navigation. This doesn't mean simply developing the satellite technology but also supporting the companies who wish to make use of it. It was this ambition that led the Technology Strategy Board to set up the Satellite Applications Catapult, which is now working hand in hand with the University of Nottingham, one of the world's most pre-eminent  research centres in satellite navigation, to deliver the support and provide the route for many of the ideas submitted to the competition to be turned into new business.

Ends

For further information. Please contact: James Romero, Email Contact / 07926862072

Notes to editors

1. T he UK ESNC winner takes home £10,000 Prize Fund that includes: 

  • £5,000 Cash 
  • £2,500 of Business Incubation Support 
  • £2,500 of GNSS Consultancy 
  • Free UK patent advice 
  • 3 years membership to the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN) 
  • Introductions to technology partners and funding opportunities 
  • High profile national and international PR campaign 

2. Second prize in UK ESNC wins 

  • £1,000 Grant 
  • 1 years membership to the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN) 
  • Business, technical, legal and financial advice

3.    Additional Prizes

  • All entrants are eligible for free advice from business, legal and technical experts at one of a series of regional workshops
  • There is also a European prize of 20,000 EUR.

4.  The University of Nottingham has 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom , China and Malaysia . It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013 . It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers , one of the world’s greenest universities , and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.

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