KTN's online platform helps you to make the connections you need

 

The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) has refreshed its online platform to intelligently connect you to relevant events, funding, thought pieces and specialist staff to help your business innovate and grow.

You can discover content using your area of interest, from ICT to transport; from space to health – all major UK economic sectors are covered. Once you have selected your interests, using our intelligent tagging system, we will then display rich and relevant content related to your area, often from surprising sources.

An example might be new satellite technology from the space sector that is applicable in the agri-food sector. KTN-UK.co.uk will help you form these unusual and valuable connections.

All content on the platform has been carefully curated by our team of innovation specialists – not by an automated algorithm – so you can be confident that KTN is connecting you to the most relevant cutting-edge information.

 

The move also marks a closer alignment with our main funder, Innovate UK , with the website branding making a clear visual link. Knowledge Transfer Network is Innovate UK's innovation network partner, and also works with other funders to provide innovation networking services and fulfil our mission to drive UK growth.

We link new ideas and opportunities with expertise, markets and finance through our network of businesses, universities, funders and investors. From agri-food to autonomous systems and from energy to design, KTN combines expertise in all sectors with the ability to cross boundaries. Connecting with KTN can lead to potential partners, horizon-expanding events and innovation insights relevant to your needs.

Visit our people pages to connect directly with expertise in your sector.

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Fixing city streets with crowdsourcing technology

In the US, cities and states have been quick to capitalise on a mixture of neighbourhood goodwill, apps and smartphones to revolutionise the way public services are conducted. The combination of these elements goes by the name of urban crowdsourcing. The public are encouraged to report problems, ideally on the spot from a mobile device. In return they get real time feedback as the issues – anything from potholes or abandoned vehicles to graffiti - are resolved.

As with many developments, it hasn’t taken long for this trend to cross the pond. This week, saw FixMyStreet, an established UK site where people can report and discuss urban issues, finally launch a dedicated site for councils. The site also makes use of a basic app so that people can photograph problem issues. It relies on volunteer developers open source. 

The project was originally paid for via the Department for Constitutional Affairs Innovations Fund but is now funded by a variety of means, from commercial work to donations. The service charges local authorities and  profits are used to fund the not-for-profit ventures of its parent organisation, mysociety. The first councils to use the service are Bromley and Barnet. 

In a similar vein to the US services, when an issue is reported to a council it is also possible to view its progress online. This is extremely useful as a bigger picture can then emerge of particular problems, like graffiti, in certain areas. It is also a record of how quickly authorities respond and so likely to give an air of urgency to dealing with issues.

But despite the good work being done at FixMyStreet, UK apps are still some way behind their US counterparts. Take Boston's pot-hole finding app, Street Bump, for example. Designed to be used in a car, on a mobile with a built in accelerometer which records every jolt in the journey, along with its GPS co-ordinates, the app sends this data to a central server.

If a bump triggers three separate reports within four days it is officially declared an issue and logged so that it will be fixed.

The US city of Boston has quite a lead on urban crowdsourcing and has been empowering the public with varous technology since 2009, when a mobile app "Citizen Connect", began allowing the public to report various problems.

Officials found that people who complain electronically take more interest in following up the issue than those who phone in, so this year they introduced City Worker, an app that allows government employees to publicly close a case, via mobile technology on the spot, with the person who originally submitted the issue receiving notification via email.

However, building an app to run a city can be expensive. Those such as Street Bump, which rely on algorithms, can be particularly time consuming to manufacture. Products which scour established social networks to find relevant messages can fill this gap. It’s possible that these software tools, such as Kana’s "Lagan Experience Analytics" can potentially reveal even more that a dedicated crowd sourcing app, aggregating, not just topics, but also positive and negative sentiment.

In the US, urban crowd sourcing received a boost in 2009, when President Barack Obama's Open Government Initiative called for public collaboration and transparency at every level of government. Perhaps it’s time for a similar initiative in the UK?

 
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