Hackathon: Water, Water, Everywhere

How can we use geospatial data to keep people safe in and around the water? Join us at the Water, Water, Everywhere hack to develop and build your great ideas.

The problem

How can we keep people safe near the water? It’s a place to relax, a source of inspiration, somewhere to have fun with friends or get the adrenaline racing and the heart pumping. But it's also an unpredictable force that demands respect. Every year, around 190 people drown in UK and Irish waters – half of them didn’t even intend to get wet. Drowning is a problem – and we need to solve it. 

How can you help?

If you’re a developer or student, come on your own or with your tribe to our hack event on 30 September. It’s being held in collaboration between the RNLI, Geovation and Bournemouth Borough Council, coinciding with the Silicon Beach event in Bournemouth this September.

We’ll all be sharing our large, fascinating data sets with you, so we can work together to tackle the following challenges:

Data visualisation

How might we visualise relevant live and historic geospatial data to make better informed decisions or find new ways to engage the public about water safety?

Flooded with data

How might we use geospatial data to reduce the impact of events like flooding or help emergency response operations?

Monitoring remote locations

How might we understand footfall in remote locations or monitor the status of public rescue equipment?

Download more details about the challenge statements here - PDF 844KB

Still interested?

First, you need to register for the event on 30 September. It’s sure to be a really popular event, so register your interest now.

Secondly, come along to the RNLI College on Friday 15 September at 7pm for an hour-long briefing and to meet your fellow hackers.

If you can’t make it to Poole for the pre-briefing you can join remotely via this zoom meeting link.

There aren’t many rules or conditions for this hack event. We just ask that the prototypes developed:

  • use the openly available geospatial data sets, and
  • relate to drowning or flooding issues.

We’ll provide data for a specific region of the UK (see below). But your solution could be scalable to other locations – or even globally.

You can enter on your own or in a team of up to four.

As we’re limited to a maximum of 40 participants, please be aware that if we are oversubscribed, we may have to prioritise some attendees to ensure a diverse spread of people and skills. Although it’s unlikely we’ll have to do this, we promise to be as fair as possible. We’ll let you know if you’ve got a space by Monday 18 September.

This hack event is for adult participants only, so you’ll need to be 18 years old or over to qualify for a place. For more information, take a look at our terms and conditions.

Everyone who takes part in the hack will receive a small thank you gift.

The prototype pitches will be judged by a panel from the sponsoring organisations according to specific criteria that you’ll learn about on the day.

What happens to my work?

There are several exploitation routes available for our winning entrants, including:

  • an invite to apply for the next Geovation Accelerator Programme open call for full support to develop, scale and launch your idea as a new business
  • a route into JP Morgan’s Force For Good programme
  • support from the Ordnance Survey’s Geovation team
  • continuing to develop your propositions with the RNLI and/or Bournemouth Council
  • continuing to develop your propositions with Ordnance Survey’s ResilienceDirect team
  • contact with Geovation for some development, business development advice and potentially useful contacts.


RNLI LogoWe save lives by providing a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service, seasonal lifeguards, water safety education and initiatives, and flood rescue response.

The RNLI also works with partners overseas to make drowning a global priority – with 372,000 people drowning worldwide each year, it’s an epidemic that needs to be addressed.

It’s easier than you think to get into trouble in the water – around 190 people drown in the UK and Ireland every year. That’s more than those killed in cycling accidents. This isn’t something we can change on our own, at home or internationally. In order to save more lives, we need to transform the way we think, feel and talk about the RNLI.

Swanage Shannon class lifeboat during a training exercise

Photo: RNLI/Andy Lyons

Ordnance Survey

Geovation is an Ordnance Survey initiative, in association with HM Land Registry, that supports start-ups, individuals, smaller businesses and corporations to innovate using geospatial and property technology and data.

While maps remain an important part of the O.S. brand, they represent only 5% of our annual revenue. We produce digital map data, online route planning and sharing services and mobile apps, plus many other location-based products so you know exactly where you are. You’d be lost without us.

Our geographic data is so big, yet at the same time so granular and accurate, that we’ve mapped the location of every fixed physical object in Great Britain, from the ground upwards, to within one metre accuracy. And we have a team of around 300 surveyors and two aircraft that produce 10,000 updates to our system a day – to our OS MasterMap database. That’s seven times every minute of every day of the year.

Bournemouth Council 

Bournemouth Borough Council logoBournemouth is a large coastal resort town on the south coast of England. With Poole to the west and Christchurch in the east, Bournemouth forms the South East Dorset conurbation, which has a total population of over 465,000.

Bournemouth's location has made it a popular destination for tourists, attracting over five million visitors annually with its beaches and popular nightlife. The town is also a regional centre of business and a financial sector that is worth more than £1,000 million in gross value added.

Bournemouth has recently been identified as one of the UK’s fastest expanding digital hubs outside London, hosting events such as Silicone Beach this September and is to be the development site for the new 5G mobile data networks.


RNLI College
West Quay Road
BH15 1HZ


Start date: End date:


Email innovation@rnli.org.uk or call Tim on 01202 336139 (Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm)