Nominet explores smart solutions to urban issues at first ever Smart Oxford Challenge

17th September 2015

One day event run in association with the World Wide Web Consortium aims to develop entrepreneurial smart city ideas.

This Friday, Nominet, the Oxford-based company responsible for the .UK internet infrastructure, will host the first Smart Oxford Challenge in partnership with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The one-day event aims to help develop connected products and digital services that might solve the urban issues of 21st century Oxford, and other cities like it.

The Smart Oxford Challenge is a one-day accelerator, with support from business, technical and marketing experts, for small and established teams who have developed a digital or connected product idea that they think will help Oxford become smarter. Thirteen teams (see full list below) have been selected to take part in the day. We aim to help the teams to create a better-formed plan for success and the targeted meetings, lectures and an evening showcase will give them the tools to build successful businesses in the growing arena of smart cities.

The diverse mix of smart city projects aims to solve all manner of urban issues, from congestion and connectivity to conservation and sustainability. The projects include ideas and businesses already in development, such as responsive road networks that react to high numbers of cyclists and change car lanes to bike lanes using sensors, an Internet of Things (IoT) platform that provides real-time information on parking space availability to reduce congestion and improve air quality, a citizen-led initiative to boost urban bird-life and privacy-sensitive smart doors.

Russell Haworth, CEO, Nominet, commented on the event: “Oxford faces many challenges as its popularity as a place to live, work and visit grows. Its medieval history, combined with issues such as its transient student population, pose unique questions about its future development. However the Internet of Things and other digital technologies have huge potential to help solve these problems, in ways no-one has thought about before. The Smart Oxford Challenge will support, accelerate and encourage innovative smart city initiatives that could improve any urban environment, anywhere.”

One example of IoT technology already in action in Oxford is the Oxford Flood Network, which the Nominet R&D team has been developing with start-up Love Hz. The citizen-driven network, uses TV white space (wireless spectrum freed up by the switch to digital TV broadcasting) to monitor water levels in the streams, groundwater and basin of the Thames and Cherwell rivers in and around Oxford. The aim of the project is to create a crowdsourced map of flood levels that will give local residents a much better idea of imminent flooding in their area in the future.

For more information on the Smart Oxford Challenge, please visit:

The Smart Oxford Challenge teams:

KN-I A new predictive flood event model for Oxford.
Copperhorse Smart doors – a privacy-sensitive IoT product that can used in applications from assisted living to security.
Oxford Air Network A DIY air quality sensor for use in citizen science.
Trackener An intelligent horse monitoring technology that allows horse owners to keep an eye on their horse wherever they are.
IndoorNavi An indoor tracking solution that enables data collection and data analysis based on location of users
HOK Responsive Bike Lanes – street lanes and road signage that responds to an influx of cyclists, prioritizing bikes over cars at peak times.
Pikhaya Smart Streets Free market intelligence for entrepreneurs, using open data to find business opportunities in empty commercial premises in urban centres.
SharelOx A bike sharing program enabling all students of each college to share their bike in the city via apps.
Field Work Facility The Nest Project – a citizen-led initiative to encourage bird-life in inner-city areas, making neighbourhoods nicer places to live and work.
Ethosvo An IOT platform to provide real time information on parking space availability to reduce congestion and improve air quality.
Oxford Brookes University Real-time monitoring of the occupancy of roadside parking spaces, using devices attached to public vehicles (e.g. buses and taxis).
i-smartdesk An app showing location of hotdesks in the city available in real time, with potential booking facility and links to transport data
AirPublic Cycle based system providing insight into air quality on transport networks.

About Love Hz and the Oxford Flood Network

Love Hz is a consultancy specialising in wireless networks and the Internet of Things. We provide technical consultancy services whilst developing creative new ways to combine these technologies in a valuable and easily understandable way.

Director Ben Ward is a veteran of the UK internet industry and a relentless innovator. He’s often found speaking at industry conferences and recruiting volunteers to help improve the flood network’s technology. As a resident of Oxford and active member of the local technical community he wants to see Oxford thrive and develop a talent hub.