Shoothill Blog

The Latest Technology and Mapping News from the World Wide Web and Shoothill

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Award Winning Creative Web Development from Shoothill

In 2014 Expedia worked with PHD and Microsoft to launch their latest interactive promotion, The Search for Modern Explorers. Where budding explorers were invited to compare their own trips with those of historic explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama.

For the promotion Microsoft Partners, Shoothill were asked by to help create a custom Bing Map experience. Allowing users to highlight the world’s countries they have previously explored and compare their current percentage against some of the world’s travel legends.

Since its launch, in June 2014, the promotion has gone on win two gold awards from The Internationalist, one for Media Innovation in October 2014 and another for Digital Innovation in March 2015. It also won gold and silver awards for Best International Travel Campaign and Content Marketing respectively at the Travel Marketing Awards and it is currently short listed at the Festival of Media Global Awards for best Media Vendor.



JShoothill Blog
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Solving urban challenges with big data

via Microsoft – Parul Bhandari 

On February 21 and 22, Microsoft gathered citizens in cities around the world in Santa Clara, California, to support Open Data Day with an International Big Data Hackathon. Participants leveraged worldwide open data catalogues and the power of Microsoft data platform technologies, including SQL, HDInsight, Microsoft Azure, Power BI, and Excel to write applications, liberate data, create visualizations, and publish analyses to support and encourage the adoption of open data policies by the world’s local, regional, and national governments.

Governments have already started applying big data to their complex public safety challenges with great success. Microsoft partner Shoothill, a United Kingdom-based software development company and winner of the 2014 Open Data Award for Innovation, creates online mapping and data visualization solutions that harness the power of open data and Microsoft technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Bing Maps, Deep Zoom, and Pivot.

Shoothill’s award-winning FloodAlertsGaugeMap, and CheckMyFloodRisk tools use open public data to provide local governments and citizens with life-saving information, mapping dangerous flood conditions, river levels, and flood risk zones in real-time.

The FloodAlerts tool uses live flood forecast data supplied by four separate U.K. government agencies to monitor water levels and allows users to register any property or location in main land U.K. to be alerted via email or social media when a flood alert, warning, or severe warning affects that location. Multiple versions are available for governments, media, and users, including an app version for Windows 8.

GaugeMap was launched in 2014 to live-monitor nearly 2,500 river levels and sync them to individual unique Twitter IDs – which can also be embedded into other websites, data sets, or private gauges – all viewable within a single map. It runs on the Azure cloud and receives a raw data feed from the U.K. Environment Agency every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to show flood, normal, or below normal river and tide levels. It is also able to tweet updates more frequently during extreme weather conditions.

CheckMyFloodRisk is the first flood risk zone map for England, calculating risk and distance from known flood risk areas. The site uses open data from the Environment Agency to allow citizens to easily calculate their distance from known flood risk areas. The data is overlaid on an interactive map, enabling users to input addresses and automatically see their proximity to known flood risks, with greater pinpoint accuracy possible by dragging the ‘pin’ over any property or location. The risk level and distance to the nearest flood zone is then automatically displayed.

“By deploying our projects on Microsoft Azure we ensure applications are up and running faster, with improved manageability, enabling us to rapidly adjust resources to meet fluctuating and unpredictable demands,” said Rod Plummer, managing director at Shoothill.

Combined with Shoothill FloodAlerts and Shoothill GaugeMap, these three tools provide a suite of free products that put critical flooding information in the hands of end users before, during, and after a flood event – truly delivering citizens value from open source.

JJAzure, Bing Maps, Environment Agency, FloodAlerts, GaugeMap, Microsoft, Rod Plummer
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Using Shoothill GaugeMap for more than just being #Floodaware

Before the launch of GaugeMap, the only official way of accessing your nearest river monitoring station was via the Environment Agency website, drilling down through a maze of regional to local maps. Through GaugeMap users can now access river level, flow and groundwater data, on an interactive Google Map with an easy and flexible smart search tool.

The award-winning service champions the use of open data released by the UK Government, by providing a free-to-access tool that brings more context to the environment around us. Shoothill are committed to making sure that everyone has access to this data in a way that can be understood by all, not just hydrologists.  This is because we feel that the data is essential for not only those who live and work by the rivers but also those who use the river for business and leisure.

Here are a few examples of how GaugeMap can be used by Rowing Clubs, Keen Boaters and Anglers:

Angling: There are 20 sites along the River Thames that offer fast flowing water, giving keen anglers a more exciting fishing experience. At each of these sites the lock keeper will usually be able to give anglers information on the daily river flows, however for those travelling from further afield they may want to check on the river conditions before they start their journey.

Rowing Clubs: According to the governing body of rowing in the UK, British Rowing, each club must adopt minimum standards for appropriate weather conditions this includes, river conditions. During or after heavy rainfall, if the river is flowing to fast it can be unsafe to marshal boats, spin them and attach to the stakeboats.

Boaters: Before setting off on an adventure both experienced and novice boaters are advised to check guidelines and monitor river conditions. This is due to the effect river levels can have on navigating certain stretches of rivers, For example in Gloucester, Gloucester lock is not open for navigation when the flood gates along the River Severn are closed. Additional impacts may also mean that with higher levels some boats are unable to fit under fixed bridges and at lower levels damage could be caused to the hull of the boat.

In additional to the interactive map the GaugeMap service provides an additional Twitter service, which brings river-levels to the Internet of Things. Which is where objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

This means by following one of the many monitoring stations accounts we have created on Twitter you can get instant updates on the river levels or flow, without even thinking about it. Currently tweets go out twice daily, once in the morning before 9am and once in the evening after 4pm.

JNews, Shoothill Blog
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Come Home to Support England with Marriott

Marriott has teamed up with Skype with a new campaign targeting Brits abroad who are missing out on the rugby at home.Entrants must submit a video message to Marriott’s dedicated microsite explaining why their friend or loved one should be flown home for an England game at Twickenham this year. Marriott will pick four winners across 13 countries to attend a match with their friends and family, with the first starting on 21 March.The campaign uses Skype behavioural and communication data between the UK and other countries to target the relevant demographic across 13 rugby-loving countries, which include South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It will also run across other Microsoft-owned platforms including MSN, and Windows 8 in the UK, plus England Rugby channels, digital and experiential.Chi Nguyen, European field marketing director for Marriott Hotels, said: “We wanted to do something special for fans living abroad, who usually can only watch the game on TV at awkward times in the middle of the night.

“Microsoft and MEC Access have taken a creative, insights-led approach, enabling us to provide four lucky fans with the opportunity to experience England rugby live.”

The Microsite

The Marriott microsite, was built and is also hosted by data visualisations specialists Shoothill for Microsoft Advertising and MEC Access. The site uses specialist software which allows users to enter the competition by uploading a short 30 second video message.

Videos are recorded using a device’s built-in or attached camera and then sent to a customised moderation system before being added to the feature gallery on the microsite.

If you are interesting in creating a similar project for a partner or event please contact or 0845 421 0390 for more details


JJMarriott, Microsoft, MSN, Skype
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Shoothill cloud services available on G-Cloud 6

We are pleased to announce that our software services are now available on the sixth iteration of the G-Cloud Digital Framework, following the completion of the official bid process.

Shoothill’s renewal to the framework means that for the third year running, Government organisations can continue to contract our software development services to help deliver cloud based applications.

An example of services available through the G-Cloud framework include the Reading Borough Council Open Data service, which provides local developers access to data from across the town’s transport network.

Rod Plummer, MD at Shoothill, commented early today, “We are thoroughly delighted to have been accepted on this framework agreement for the third year running, it is further evidence that Shoothill have a compelling proposition for the Public Sector. Organisations can now easily and painlessly benefit from the cost-effective services provided by Shoothill, with projects being developed in a much shorter time frame without the need for a drawn-out, separate procurement process”.

JJGCloud, Government, Open Data service, Reading Borough Council, Rod Plummer
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Shoothill listed as one of the top 50 most creative companies in the UK

This week, Creative England, a not-for-profit organisation that supports and invests in the UK creative industry, released a new report celebrating the breadth of the creative economy across England. The Creative England 50 study showcases the firms across England that have turned a bright idea into a commercial success.

Spanning film, video games, apps, and other new digital media, the report shows that the creative economy touches every sector, from health care to education to car insurance.  In addition to highlighting some of the most creative businesses in England, the report focused on ten outstanding companies who were also chosen as Future Leaders and Shoothill was named as one of them.

Selected by a panel of Judges included Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice president of Facebook EMEA and Rory Cellan Jones, Chief Technology Correspondent at the BBC, entrepreneur and investor Saul Klein and Stuart Rock, Editor in Chief for the Business is GREAT campaign, these companies were identified as demonstrating innovation, strong growth, promise and the potential to disrupt their sector with true innovation.

Shoothill chosen as a Future Leader

The judges were particularly impressed by the way that Shoothill is using its expertise to support communities. A key project – part-funded by Creative England – is the library search system at the Library of Birmingham. The solution developed, called FLiC, showcases Shoothill’s Megafiche® technology and expertise in high-end data visualisation solutions.

The software is currently being used to create an interactive visual search method for the Library of Birmingham’s Warwickshire Photographic Survey. The Survey was founded in 1890 to create a photographic record of the urban and rural landscape of Warwickshire. Shoothill’s digitisation project is cataloguing the 20,000+ photographs to form a searchable online image database to preserve a record of the area’s history for future generations.

In the report Creative England states “After winning numerous awards for its software and apps, Shoothill is a shining example of how creative technology can provide solutions across multiple sectors.”

Shoothill were also recognised for Innovation by winning the Guardian & Virgin Media Business Awards for FloodAlerts and most recently, the Open Data Institute’s, Open Data Innovation Awards for GaugeMap.



JJCE50, Creative England, Deep Zoom, Environment Agency, Open Data
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New Flood Risk Search Site now open to all

Households and businesses across England have today been given access to a powerful new tool to help them check for flood risks to property.

Data from the Environment Agency has been combined with mapping and postcode details to allow speedy and easy to understand use of flood area information which, for the first time, has been made available as ‘open’ data., from award-winning data visualisation specialists, Shoothill, allows end users to precisely pinpoint their distance from known risks of flooding from rivers and the sea. Overlaid on an interactive map, users can input a post code or address and see its proximity to flood risks – with greater pinpoint accuracy possible by dragging the ‘pin’ over any property or location –the risk (if any) and distance to the nearest flood zone is then automatically displayed.

Combined with the company’s proactive FloodAlerts live flood warning system (developed with the Environment Agency) and its live river and tide level gauge monitor, GaugeMap, there is now a suite of free products which put critical flood data in the hands of users.

The service is expected to be popular with people who think their homes might be at risk, those in the process of buying property or businesses which need to assess risks to their sites and other assets.

Managing director of Shoothill, Rod Plummer, explained: “This hugely valuable dataset became freely available only very recently as part of the Environment Agency’s continued commitment to the UK’s Open Data initiative. By using our previous expertise in flood mapping, and in the presentation of big data in easy to understand formats, we’ve been able to make this information easily accessible to everyone. In doing so, we’ve also completed a suite of products, with FloodAlerts and GaugeMap, which allow for proactive flood alerts, live monitoring from rivers and the sea and now a more general checking of an area’s flood profile.

“We can easily imagine this becoming a standard check that people do before buying property, just like running a search on broadband availability or school catchment areas. Now, anyone can check their flood risk in seconds and we will keep the data updated in step with the Environment Agency releasing amended versions to it in the years ahead.”

Although currently limited to England, Mr Plummer added that the opening up of the flood area data was a credit to the Environment Agency and a further demonstration that the UK Government is a world leader in making key publicly-funded data, ‘open’ and freely available.

At the end of 2014 Shropshire-based Shoothill received a prestigious award for innovation from the Open Data Institute. The ODI was founded by the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who presented the awards.

Mr Plummer said: “There are exciting things happening with open data in the UK right now, and we’re delighted to have been recognised as being part of it.”

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JJCheck my flood risk, Environment Agency, Flood Map, flood risk, FloodAlerts, Flooding, GaugeMap
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Shoothill Wins World Open Data Award for Innovation

Yesterday, the very first Open Data Awards were held at the Open Data Institute’s Annual Summit and Gala Dinner.

Presented by the ODI’s Founders, Sirs Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt, in a ceremony attended by leaders from the business, data and technology worlds. Shoothill were among the four organisations and one individual recognised for their contribution to the worldwide open data movement.

Nominations for the awards were open to everyone and were judged by a team of six. The panel of judges included Dr Nick Appleyard, Head of Digital at Innovate UK; Andrew Fletcher, Senior Manager at Thomson Reuters Data Innovation Lab; Paul Maltby, Director of Open Data and Government Innovation at the UK Cabinet Office; Rahma Mian, Journalist and Stanford Knight fellow in Pakistan; Beth Noveck, Director of The Governance Lab at New York University; Dr David Tarrant, Senior Trainer at the Open Data Institute.

Building on a promising hope for the world of open data Shoothill, won the Open Data Award for Innovation, for their work with GaugeMap which was accredited by one judge as being “a great tool to keep people informed and protected from flooding”.

Shoothill are the first firm in the UK to work on developing software based on the live flood and river-level data from the Environment Agency.

Rod Plummer, Managing Director commented “We were extremely excited to be nominated among the list of finalists for this award, and going on to win is real vindication of the work we have completed on both GaugeMap and FloodAlerts over the past few years and I am delighted for the team at Shoothill who put in such hard work to achieve it.”

The chair for the awards was Kathryn Corrick, Head of Content & Learning at the ODI, whom commented: “We received hundreds of entries for this year’s open data awards, who, excitingly, came from all over the world. All of them are pioneers. This year’s winners demonstrate, in particular, the power of open data to make a difference – be it social, environmental or economic. I am so delighted to be celebrating their work and the contribution so many people are making in using and publishing open data to make a local and global impact”.

The Open Data Awards demonstrates a hopeful encouragement for individuals and companies worldwide to participate in the practice of publishing and exploiting open data.

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JJEnvironment Agency, FloodAlerts, Flooding, GaugeMap, ODI Awards, Open Data Award, Rod Plummer, Shoothill
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Securing a future for the African elephant in our world

The African elephant is the fascinating and fragile symbol of the continent’s wildlife; the largest mammal on Earth, weighing up to 6350 Kg and unique in many ways, such as being one of the only creatures other than man known to show empathy and retain musical melodies.

Yet, over 100 elephants are killed daily and the estimated 400,000 elephants that remain in sub-Saharan Africa are at a real risk of extinction within 10 years.

Space for Giants, organises front-line anti-poaching teams, works to reduce the demand for ivory through government lobbying and education and in Laikipia, Kenya, the charity is developing a conservation strategy for the area’s 7,000 elephants that also involves the local people. This take on conservation is the first of its kind in East Africa, and Space for Giants seeks to transform it into a model for sustainable conservation across the continent.

Alongside the Microsoft Global Creative Solutions team, Shoothill created the interactive educational microsite for the UKFranceGermanyItaly and Spain to raise international awareness by exposing some wonderful anecdotes about elephants and documenting the current threat to their survival.

On the site, users can discover the typical daily journey of an elephant through the stories of six magnificent creatures that are protected by Space for Giants in real life in the Laikipia region. As users join these elephants for their daily walk of 60 kilometres, they can also read more about their habitat and threats, exposing the plight that these elephants face as an endangered species.


JNews, Shoothill Blog
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Launch of Deep Zoom for the Warwickshire Photographic Survey

The Deep Zoom project, supported by the Library of Birmingham Trust and Creative England, brings you the wonderful Warwickshire Photographic Survey in an interactive visual search method.

The Warwickshire Photographic Survey was founded in 1890, to create a photographic record of the urban and rural landscape of Warwickshire which was undergoing rapid transformation as a result of the Agrarian and Industrial Revolutions.

The collection provides striking visual evidence of the changes that have marked the local landscape, for example the effects rapid industrialisation and economic decline, wartime bombing, and slum clearance and redevelopment projects. It also documents the main events that shaped the area’s history and the lives of people of all classes and ethnic backgrounds.

The digitisation project, assisted by volunteers and members of staff, aims to catalogue the 20,000 plus photographs with the digitised images forming a searchable on-line image database.

Warwickshire Photographic Survey DeepZoom


JNews, Shoothill Blog
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Shoothill provide Flood and River level APIs to ‘HackTheTownHall’

After the extreme flood events the UK experienced this winter, this weekend (26th-27th Apr) saw the annual Hackathon in Whitechapel concentrate on a special theme. Dubbed ‘Hack The Town Hall – flood-relief’, the event was focused on creating apps and tools to help disaster emergency preparedness, flood response and recovery by residents, local agencies and government.

What is a Hack?

For those don’t know what it is, a Hackathon is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, get together over a few days and collaborate intensively on software projects.

Hopefully, at the end of the process, some new and exciting ideas emerge and these in turn lead to new products and services.  At the same time Hacks are great at bringing together folks with similar interests and getting them to work together when otherwise perhaps they wouldn’t.

This is not the first Flood Hack to be held in the UK, as in February 2014 the Government called its own Flood Hack event, where some of the country’s top software developers spent a Sunday, brainstorming and building prototype flood-relief applications.

FloodAlerts, River Level and 3-day flood forecast API

 For both of these Hack events, Shoothill were asked to supply APIs for the attendees to be able to quickly access the Environment Agency live data feeds for Flood Warnings (FloodAlerts API), River Level Gauge Data (River Level API) and a 3-day Flood Forecast API, which are all based around the FloodAlerts system that Shoothill already supply to the Environment Agency, now approaching its 3rd year in continuous operation.

The three API’s provide a secure programmatic access to the Environment Agency’s flood and river level data and return the data as either XML or JSON formats.  As the FloodAlerts service is updated every 15 minutes, so is the FloodAlerts API and so this means that any apps or services built with the API are receiving exactly the same data as Shoothill FloodAlerts and the Environment Agency simultaneously.

This is the same for the River Levels API which contains over 2,700 data points. These APIs Completely free to use, and are currently published under the Open Government Licence v2 and will be available in here until May 2014.


JJ3 Day Forecast, API, Environment Agency, Flood, FloodAlerts, Flooding, River Levels
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Prime Deep Zoom on BBC Click’s Webscape

After being listed as one of the best visualisations on the web in 2013, from the folks at Visualising Data. Shoothill’s amazing Prime Deep Zoom was featured on the hit BBC technology show Click. Showcasing the Deep Zoom, Kate Russell talked about Microsoft’s, Prime Challenge.

The focus of the Prime Challenge is to find the “lost primes”; those prime numbers that have remained undiscovered in the race to always find the biggest prime. It is hoped that The Prime Challenge will also help to re-awaken interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects – a skill set that is becoming scarcer.

The Prime Deep Zoom was created for Microsoft to help highlight the scale of the biggest prime number ever discovered. Which at over 17 million decimal digits long, would be equal to having 1,584,106 contacts in your phone’s address book and if printed out to scale would cover over 6 acres of paper.

By using Shoothill’s Megafiche® technology, The Deep Zoom experience allows users explore the scale of the number, as within the Deep Zoom users can use the zoom controls, to see when each of the previous record-breaking prime numbers were discovered as well as relating the advances that have been made over the years.

If you want to see more of Shoothill’s feature videos head over to the archive’s

JJAzure, Deep Zoom, Megafiche, Microsoft
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More than 2.5 million Brits helped by online flood information

With floods sweeping across the country and affecting new areas every week, online flood information technology has played an integral role in supporting communities across the UK as they try to predict and prepare for severe weather conditions. By providing instant access to the latest weather data and water levels, access to online information has helped over 2.5 million people to plan journeys, avoid flood-stricken areas and prepare for all eventualities since the crisis began in December.  Since last Friday alone, the Shoothill FloodAlerts service which is built on Microsoft technology, has received 1.6 million online visitors.

FloodAlerts collates data provided by the Environment Agency to monitor water levels across the UK, allows you to search for any specific area of the country and view the status of flood warnings and other information such as determining if your intended route is underwater. You can also set up alerts to find out if your hometown is at risk from flooding, as soon as the data is available. The site has also helped the emergency services plan alternative routes in particularly badly hit areas.

Usually, the service receives only a fraction of the number of visitors it has this past week, but it was able to easily withstand the unpredictable peak in demand because it runs on Microsoft Windows Azure cloud technology.  The technology allows the system to be scaled up quickly to run at a much higher scale than would normally be expected of it, meaning that FloodAlerts has been able to seamlessly provide support to millions of people across the country.

The weather data is updated frequently at critical times like this so communities can be kept up to date about what’s going on in their area. To visit the site and see for yourself if any flood warnings are heading your way, please visit:

Flood Layers

JPress Releases, Shoothill Blog
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FloodAlerts map shows how the floods have unfolded across the UK

These images from the Shoothill FloodAlerts Map, show’s  how the floods have swept across Britain over the past 12 days.  The orange areas indicate flood alerts and the red lines are flood warnings.

It began on 1 February 2014 with alerts spreading across London and the south as well as Sheffield. There were also warnings in areas including Carlisle, Gloucester and Maidstone.

The Environment Agency received 150 reports of properties flooding in the Midlands, south-west and south-east England.

The FloodAlerts Map

The images are created from the Shoothill FloodAlerts Map and the Angling Trust Fishing Info, River Gauges by Shoothill.

FloodAlerts is a free to use application provided by the Environment Agency and developed by Shoothill to provide users in England and Wales with flood warnings.

FloodAlerts is the first graphical representation of the flood warning data which provides localised updates every 15 minutes, keeping users informed about the potential flood risks in their area.

If you wish to find out more about any of these products from Shoothill, please contact or contact the sales team on 0845 421 0390

Click on the main image to see the gallery.

JJBing Maps, Environment Agency, FloodAlerts, Flooding, Shoothill
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How online mapping has transformed the online property market

Online Property MappingGone are the days when people automatically headed out to local estate agents when they were searching for property in particular areas. Increasingly, individuals are using the web to look for their dream homes. This is no surprise. Cyberspace offers consumers greater convenience and it can be a much more efficient way of trawling the market for suitable real estate.

There are plenty of websites for people to choose from, meaning that if your online resource is going to attract enough interest, it must be user-friendly. With this in mind, you might be keen to take advantage of online mapping features. These handy web tools can make it much easier for individuals to target properties within certain areas.

Strong demand for properties

It certainly seems as though consumer demand for properties is high at present.According to figures provided by Nationwide, UK house prices rose by 0.6 per cent in November this year compared with the previous month. Meanwhile, they were 6.5 per cent up on the same month in 2012.

Responding to the findings, the firm’s chief economist Robert Gardner said: “Activity in the housing market has picked up strongly in recent months. The number of mortgage approvals for house purchase reached 66,735 in September, 34 per cent higher than the same period of 2012. A large part of the improvement can be attributed to further improvements in the labour market and the brighter economic outlook, which has helped to bolster sentiment amongst potential buyers.”

Location location location

When people are on the lookout for properties, they often have very defined ideas concerning the sort of areas they want to focus on. Indeed, location is one of the key factors that helps to determine buyers’ decisions.

It is no wonder then that a rising number of property websites contain mapping features that enable individuals to restrict their searches to particular geographical locations. Using special marking tools and radius features, consumers can streamline their research with impressive levels of precision.


The great thing about these features – at least when they are done right – is that they are extremely easy for people to use. By simply clicking on maps, consumers can achieve the results they are after.

Meanwhile, web users aren’t bombarded with irrelevant properties that fall outside of their preferred zones.

Come to us

If you think your website could benefit from a feature like this, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Shoothill we specialise in providing powerful mapping technologies and user-friendly applications that transform complex data into dynamic and accessible formats.

The fact is, web users are a discerning bunch and they are after the very best. If they come across other property websites that makes their searches easier and more enjoyable than yours, you will lose their interest.

To find out more about what we have to offer, simply take a look around our website or get in touch with our friendly and helpful team. With our help, you may be able to enhance your website and offer property seekers a more rewarding and useful service.

JJBing Maps, Multimap, Postcode API, Store Locator Wizard
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Creating a Unique Online Presence with Software Developement

More and more businesses these days have an online presence, and if you want to get ahead in the online marketplace, you need to do everything you can to stand out from the crowd. If you want to operate online, then you’ll have a lot of competition, so it is important to have something which distinguishes your business from all of the others.

Employing the services of a Software Development Company is a great way to improve your website and boost your brand, but it is important to make sure that you choose an developer which is right for your business. A good Software Development Company will take the time to understand your business and what you want to achieve with your website before they start putting together a development brief. Even if you know nothing about the development process yourself, you will still have an idea of what your main goal is, so take the time to communicate this to the developer.

Ask to view proofs and mock-ups throughout the development process so that you can check that the project is progressing as you want. This will not only keep you informed, but will also allow you to continue contributing your own thoughts and ideas throughout. You may also be required to supply additional information during the process, so as well as setting up regular meetings with the development agency yourself, also ensure that you are available should they need to contact you.

Here at Shoothill, we are more than just a simple software developer. We are an award-winning software development company with a wealth of experience and ideas that can bring practically any concept to life and pride ourselves on bringing to life an innovative brand experience.

We use some of the latest technology available to create original and unique designs for our customers. We also deploy our projects on Microsoft Azure, which means that we can get applications up and running more quickly, and also make changes faster so that resources and design consistently keep up with changing business demands.

Some of our creative web design projects include the Sainsbury’s Meal Planner, which has helped many Sainsbury’s customers to improve their shopping experience by planning their weekly meals and creating a shopping list of essential ingredients. Offshoots of this project have also included the Sainsbury’s Roast and Easter Planners, which were featured on MSN.

Software Development Diamond Jubilee Deep Zoom and Map

Another project we were proud to work on was Deep Zoom mosaic for MSN for the 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations, where users could post tributes to Queen Elizabeth II or messages of support, together with a picture which we then used to create a mosaic of the Queen.

Whatever your design ideas or goals, we’re sure that we can help here at Shoothill, combining our technological and design experience to bring ‘firsts’ to the online world. If you are interested in finding out more, please feel free to drop us a line or give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your ideas further.

JShoothill Blog
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Storing millions of records online with MegaFiche® Deep Zoom

Here at Shoothill we specialise in making big data accessible and intuitive to interpret and manage. For example, our MegaFiche® Deep Zoom solutions can be used for the online archiving of millions of mages, documents and records.

More details

Megafiche ® is a Shoothill platform built on existing Microsoft Deep Zoom technology. The solution enables developers to create massive archives of images photo collections, complete with hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of embedded images and videos and all easily accessible on a single webpage.  All of these individual images are viewed with a smooth zoom control and the quality of the images is perfect, and much sharper than was previously possible.

Unlike ordinary deep zooms, our solution provides instant access to vast amounts of content and it also has the ability to handle much larger file sizes. This is what enables users to view the content in perfect detail, whether they are searching for pictures or documents.

Possible uses

Megafiche ® is an exciting offering because of the many and varied ways in which this kind of technology can be used.  For example, for archiving purposes, once a Megafiche® has been created, it is impossible to alter or change it any way afterwards and so this creates an indelible record of whatever is being archived.  It is therefore quite possible to create one image, hosted on one web page and made from literally millions of individual documents or images.

Case in point

Megafiche® can also be used for more artistic purposes too and if you want to see our MegaFiche solution in action, you can take a look at the range of deep zooms we have created with it on our demo pages . For example, in collaboration with Sutton Images, we produced a collection of unique individual Shoothill MegaFiche Deep Zoom mosaic images showing Formula 1 world champions past and present.

One of the creations features World Champion driver James Hunt.  It was created in time for the launch of the Ron Howard movie Rush, which focussed on the love-hate relationship between Hunt and his arch rival Niki Lauda.  The image itself contains tens of thousands of smaller images sourced from the archives of Sutton Images. These are arranged in such a way to create a large mosaic of the life of James Hunt.  As well as being able to buy the overall image, people will soon have the option of purchasing any of the individual images that were used in its creation.

The cloud

Megafiche® Deep Zoom is designed to be used primarily on the cloud.  The reason for this is that trying to create the image on more ‘conventional’ servers would take a very long time (both to create and to upload to the internet).  So to speed this up and make the deployment much easier, Megafiche® is deployed on the cloud to not only create the Deep Zooms but also to deploy them to the internet at the same time.

If you would like to find out more about MegaFiche® Deep Zoom, simply take a look around the relevant section of our website or get in touch with our friendly and professional team by phone or email. We’re on hand to answer any questions you might have.

JJDeep Zoom, Shoothill, Silverlight
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UK Government Leads the Way with Open Data

Open data is the idea that certain data (especially publically funded data) should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.

When it comes to public sector datasets, open data can obviously be extremely useful to organisations and individuals, and luckily for people in Britain, the UK Government is leading the world in the way it releases information of this kind.

Data sets already made available in this way are being used by enterprises all of the country for a plethora of purposes in apps / websites etc.

For once, the UK comes out on top!

Recently, the Open Knowledge Foundation released an Open Data Index showing how well countries are performing when it comes to open data. The research was published ahead of the annual summit for the Open Government Partnership.

Britain came out particularly favourably in the analysis as it achieved the best score for open data, and just ahead of the USA. In total, 70 nations were included in the index and following the UK and US, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands achieved the highest scores.  At the other end of the spectrum, Cyprus, St Kitts & Nevis, the British Virgin Islands, Kenya and Burkina Faso ranked the lowest.

The index places countries on the basis of the availability and accessibility of information in ten key areas, including election results, government spending, transport timetables and pollution levels.

Driving democracy and innovation

Commenting on the importance of open data, Open Knowledge Foundation chief executive officer Rufus Pollock said: “Opening up government data drives democracy, accountability and innovation. It enables citizens to know and exercise their rights, and it brings benefits across society: from transport, to education and health. There has been a welcome increase in support for open data from governments in the last few years.”

Open Data Institute

Doing its part for open data, the UK government has opened up thousands of documents via its website and it has invested £10 million in the launch of the Open Data Institute. Commenting on this, David Cameron said: “You can now map the crime on your streets, see the standards in our schools and the performance in your hospitals. You can see the businesses and people that the government meets with, the names and roles of senior civil servants, not to mention the pay of most of our top officials.”


For information like this to make a real difference, it is vital that it is presented in suitable ways of course and Shoothill FloodAlerts is a great example of this.  In collaboration with the Environment Agency, we created a map-based flood warning system that can be used by businesses and individuals alike.

Meanwhile, Crime Maps is another impressive use of open data. It enables people to check crime levels in particular areas. Using the resource, individuals and organisations can pinpoint the exact number of crimes that have occurred in certain areas and find out what sort of violations these were.

The future of Open Data

The realisation by the Government that as more data is released in this way, means not only less costs to it in distributing the data, but also more and more companies taking advantage of it and so boosting the economy (and creating more jobs).

At present, due to the cost of sourcing some datasets originally (geological surveys or maritime charts are expensive to produce)  not all Government data is available under open data for developers like Shoothill, but it has to be said, that this is one area where we have to give a ‘hats off’ to the UK Government  for really trying.

JShoothill Blog
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Truly Comprehensive Flood Warning Solutions

It is an unfortunate fact that flooding caused by heavy rain affects far too many communities across the UK. Indeed, images of burst rivers, devastated villages, swamped fields and rescue teams wading through high streets on television news reports are now as expected as they are unwelcome.

Needless to say, the consequences of flooding can be disastrous. Households and businesses can be completely destroyed while livestock, pets and of course people, can be killed. Just last year, nine people lost their lives as a direct result of floods caused by persistent heavy rain.

Combating floods

The best way to combat the effects of flooding is to have early warning systems in place which are able to tell people that their area is likely to experience flooding. If they come early enough, flood warnings of this kind can save lives and reduce damage as residents can be evacuated and barriers can be erected to reduce the impact of floods on homes and businesses.

Of course, the real question is: how can pertinent information about possible flooding be collated, processed and displayed for the public to see in a quick and easy to follow way?

Well, that was the question the Environment Agency asked themselves a few years ago. To their credit, the Environment Agency explored every avenue and finally concluded that the best solution would be to get the UK’s leading software development company to create a map-based flood warning system for them.

And so they came to us here at Shoothill.


FloodAlerts is essentially a map-based flood warning system which utilises live flood data from the Environment Agency’s monitoring network and overlays it onto a Bing Map. This comprehensively accurate yet very easy to use interface operates all day every day, with live feed updates every 15 minutes to provide a constant source of relevant, reliable and vital information. FloodAlerts is available both to the general public and businesses, with tailored corporate versions offering companies the option to view flood alerts in the vicinity of their properties/assets.

The unmitigated success of FloodAlerts (hundreds of thousands of people have used it since it’s launch) has lead to it becoming an integral feature on the Environment Agency’s Facebook page. This means that anyone with an Internet connection can check real-time nationwide alerts at the touch of a button.

FloodAlerts for Windows 8

In addition to FloodAlerts on Facebook, our creative design agency has also developed FloodAlerts for use on Windows 8. Harnessing the power of key Microsoft technologies, such as Bing Maps and Microsoft Windows Azure, ensures that FloodAlerts on windows 8 remains a uniquely powerful application, processing real-time flood data from over 1800 Environment Agency monitoring stations throughout England and Wales and displaying this data on an interactive map. The Windows 8 Application has several new features, such as a full screen Bing Map, a Picture Gallery, where users can upload their own photos and a Twitter feed, connected to @FloodAlerts, the FloodAlerts official Twitter feed.

JShoothill Blog
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Public sector digital framework firms announced

NHS bodies and local authorities will be able to choose from 183 companies selected to sit on a £40 million digital framework for building public sector digital services, unveiled today by government.

More than a third of the companies have never worked for government before, with 84 per cent of the total number defined as small and medium enterprises.

The framework consists of pre-approved suppliers which can bid for government digital contracts, meaning the public sector can reduce the time it would otherwise take to buy services under European Union procurement regulations.

Mike Bracken, director of the Government Digital Service, said: “To deliver the efficient and responsive services that the public demands, government must have access to the best, most cost-effective digital solutions.

“The Digital Services framework will be a flexible and speedy route for departments to the digital project expertise they need to transform their services.”

The framework will last for nine months, with total anticipated purchases estimated at up to £40 million, and will provide access to digital services including software engineering, product development, content design and system administration.

All firms on the framework are required to operate using an agile approach.

It will also cover individual roles, including developers, architects, managers, analysts, designers, and database, network and security specialists

The framework has been put together jointly by Government Procurement Service (GPS) and the Government Digital Service (GDS) specifically to support the Government’s Digital Strategy.

Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “The Digital Services framework shows how we are levelling the playing field for government contracts and living up to our ambition to support growth by giving opportunities to new entrants and smaller suppliers who can deliver innovative, cost-effective solutions based on user need.”

Shoothill who are among the 183 companies who have made it on to the framework to support the UK Public Sector, for its digital services development needs. At the same time Shoothill have also successfully renewed their application to the G-Cloud Framework (cloud development services) after join the framework in 2012.



JJBing Maps, Shoothill
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G-Cloud – What’s it all about?

In October 2011, Francis Maude (Minister for the Cabinet Office) launched a new ICT Strategy. The strategy is an effort to deliver over £1.4bn of savings over the next 4 years and at the same time, help to improve the way public services are delivered digitally.

Previously, the Public Sector relied on issuing calls for tender applications to get contracts completed. Bidding companies were subjected to the tender process for each project they wished to participate in, thus making the process extremely time consuming (especially for SME’s). This difficulty, made it inevitable that the larger Systems Integrators (SI’s) were at an advantage, as only they had the resources to go through the tender process again and again. On larger projects, this meant that relatively few firms would even be considered as the work load was so great.

The result was only a few firms to choose from, long timescales to get projects completed, and in some cases complete abandonment due to the spiralling costs (for example the ill-fated £11.4bn National Programme for IT for the NHS)

Enter the G-Cloud Framework

The idea behind the G-Cloud Framework is a simple one – rather than applying to tenders separately, the vendor goes through one (very thorough) tender process.  They are processed with the same level as detail as in a normal public sector tender but if successful, they are then accepted onto the G-Cloud Framework. From there, different public sector organisations requiring ICT services can then choose a vendor directly from the list of already approved suppliers, without needing to go to tender.

This makes whole process much quicker and more cost-effective for the purchaser, while the vendor can reduce the overhead of applying for many tenders separately (and so reduce its costs). The other benefit for the vendor is that G-Cloud creates a level playing field with any of the other competing businesses.

Shoothill was accepted onto G-Cloud III in 2012 and G-Cloud 4 in 2013 for mapping services. The framework is proving to be popular with vendors as they see the advantages of the concept, while also realising that merely being accepted onto G-Cloud is confirmation of their qualifications in whatever area of ICT expertise they specialise.
G-Cloud is a good idea.



JShoothill Blog
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Bringing Historical Maps to Life using Bing Maps and GIS

Using GIS technology to develop interactive historical maps is fantastic way of bringing history to life. Shoothill has taken part in several projects that have seen us use this technology to layer digitally scanned historic maps from both World Wars on to Bing Maps.

A new exhibition, entitled Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia, opens this week at the National Library of Australia in Canberra. This exhibition showcases many of the greatest maps in the world, new and old, physical and digital. On loan from the Vatican, the British Library, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice as well as from some of Australia’s leading cultural institutions. This priceless collection of maps, which inspired the very idea of Australia, has never before been seen together, under the one roof.

Additionally the exhibit has used GIS technology to develop a series of high-tech interactive apps. The exhibit provides visitors with access to behind-the-scenes information and historical context to the extraordinary pieces on display. However it is not as yet available online.

Shoothill have recently developed an Energy Tracker for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Centre (MassCEC) which now forms their ENEGIZED! Exhibit. An interactive touch screen display allows visitors to view and zoom in on renewable energy projects in Massachusetts. The map is updated by the museum every six months using their own data from their Production Tracking System. The interactive exhibit is enhanced by a 32-inch 3M Multi-Touch display that is operated by using touch screen controls to zoom in, out and pan around the map, to select the type of alternative energy and to select the year. The map which is available online can be viewed here.

Since then Shoothill has gone on to produce interactive maps for world-wide projects such as The War Horse Journeyfor MSN & Disney, Interactive Battle of Britain and Time Map Berlin, For each of these Shoothill had access to hundreds of fantastic historical maps. From these projects Shoothill now has the ability to turn any accurate historical map into an interactive application for education, planning, and also for online digital exhibits.

To find out more about Shoothill’s Time Map contact us on 0845 421 0390 or at

The Mapping Our World exhibition will run from 7 November 2013 to 10 March 2014 at the National Library of Australia in Canberra, ACT. You can learn more about the exhibition at

TimeMap Berlin


JShoothill Blog
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How FloodAlerts has Brought Flood Warnings Online

For many people across the UK, flooding is a continual threat whenever heavy rain falls. Households and businesses lucky enough to be based in areas unlikely to experience flooding may not realise just how devastating and dangerous floods can be—in 2012, the UK and Ireland were struck by some of the worst floods in decades, causing at least nine fatalities and over £1 billion worth of damage.

In such terrible circumstances, flood warnings can save lives and reduce damage if they come early enough—residents can be evacuated and barriers can be erected to reduce the impact of floods on homes and businesses. Many of us have seen the aftermath of mass floods in news reports: fields swamped; towns and villages devastated; rescuers wading through streets to help evacuate those stranded in their homes. Preparation is key, and up-to-the-minute coverage is essential.

In 2012, the Environment Agency worked with Shropshire-based software development company Shoothill Ltd. to create a new map-based flood warning system, FloodAlerts. The system receives live flood data from the Environment Agency’s monitoring network and overlays it on a Bing Map; operating all day every day, FloodAlerts updates its feed every 15 minutes to provide a constant source of vital information for anyone concerned about any particular areas of the UK.

Since its inception, FloodAlerts has received much acclaim, as well as winning the prestigious Innovation in Enterprise award from the Guardian’s Innovation Nation Awards 2012, an impressive achievement for any creative development agency. Hundreds of thousands of people have since used FloodAlerts to check flood danger levels in their area. The service is available both to the general public and businesses, with tailored corporate versions offering companies the capacity to view flood alerts in the vicinity of their properties/assets. People with holiday homes in areas prone to flooding can use the service to check up on their properties and maintain a close, up-to-the-minute watch over their risk status wherever they are.

FloodAlerts flood mapping is now featured on Facebook pages for the Environment AgencyFlood Group UK and the official FloodAlerts page. This allows visitors to these pages to quickly and easily jump to the map and check nationwide alerts at the touch of a button. By featuring the app on Facebook, Shoothill and the Environment Agency has made an astute move: given the nature of social media, more people than ever may become aware of flood risks in their area than ever before, potentially saving more lives and raising awareness of the importance of being prepared.

floodalerts logo large icon black470x178


JShoothill Blog
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Smurfs 2, Around the World Map

With  Smurfs 2 now out in cinemas around the world. Shoothill’s  Smurfs Around the World Map has filled up nicely with smurfy antics from fans this summer. Check out what fans have been up to here.

Shoothill developed the interactive map for Yahoo! and Sony Pictures Animation. Inviting visitors to enter a competition to win tickets to the London premiere of the film (now released worldwide) by posting their pictures and messages, onto an interactive, customised Bing map which was created specially for the movie launch.

The Smurfs 2

American 3D family comedy film and a sequel to the 2011 film The Smurfs. It is loosely based on The Smurfs comic-book series created by the Belgian comics artist Peyo. It is the second installment of a projected trilogy, produced by Sony Pictures Animation and distributed by Columbia Pictures. The film is directed by Raja Gosnell, who helmed the first, with all the main cast returning. New cast members include Christina Ricci and J. B. Smoove as members of the Naughties, and Brendan Gleeson as Patrick Winslow’s stepfather. The film was released on July 31, 2013 and is dedicated to Jonathan Winters, who voiced Papa Smurf, died on April 11, 2013

The Smurfs 2 Map

JShoothill Blog
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Hygiene ratings interactive map

The Guardian published the hygiene ratings on a Google map online at the end of July. The red dots  indicate businesses that have failed food inspections by the FSA across England and Wales. You can click to see detail on the name of the business and when they were last inspected.

However if you are a Windows 8 Fan, and have it installed on your computer or you have one of the flashy surface devices you can download the Food Hygiene app created by Shoothill. using the same data from the Food Standard Agency.

The Windows 8 Food Hygiene Application

Ensure you know the FSA hygiene ratings before you dig into your Friday night takeaway! The Windows 8 application is designed to work on Windows 8 PCs and surface devices and is provided free of charge and advert free by the Food Standards Agency.

Users can search using the following options:

  • Search around your current location – by using the built in GPS location technology on the windows surface device to pull in information around the user’s current location
  • Search by business name (or part of the business name) – search for a specific food outlet or use the application to check out local businesses or competitors to see what rating they have been given
  • Strange town or city? Away from home? New to an area? – search around to find the best places to eat near you
  • Search by Postcode – Need food delivered to your door? Use the first part of any postcode to see the hygiene standards for any nearby takeaways and other places to eat

Hygiene ratings map

JShoothill Blog