What a Year! What a Ride!

2016 was a very interesting year from KnowNow’s perspective. We made a decision to pivot, won some battles, lost some skirmishes and we have made some customers very happy. We also had to say goodbye to some old friends too. As Dave & I both said to each other at our end of year review “it has been a rollercoaster of a year!”.


The Rollercoaster ride begins… gaining momentum

PortID logo

PortID  from MobileID

The start of 2016 saw us embarking on the design and development of a new customer project. This delivered a new app called PortID. An exciting new disruptive innovation from MobileID.

This new app turns a manual 2-week process into a sub-30-second digital check.  Aimed at border control and services requiring quick and secure identity validation. PortID is one of those ‘of its time’ apps that could have an exciting future

KnowNow also moved forward a concept that enabled adaptive comfort control for commercial buildings.  We will come back to this story later in this blog.

Introducing Consentua

KnowNow’s current number one innovation is Consentua.  Born from our Cognicity experience from early 2015 Consentua was previously called ‘TrustAPI’.  We commissioned at the back end of 2015 an independent business impact assessment from the University of Portsmouth Business School.

When the student team presented to David & I at the end of the quarter the news was very positive and this evidence gave us the confidence to push ahead with further development of Consentua. This decision led to us applying for an Innovate UK award for a collaboration with the Sharing EconomyUK – more on that later.

We had to say goodbye to Connor our apprentice too at this time and we continue to wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Water Water Everywhere

A Flood Warning Sign in Southsea Hampshire from Summer 2015

Preparing for flooding in Southsea, Hampshire

Flood Event Model was gaining interest in the press and the support from our partners was encouraging. The rain continued to fall and places flooded as

predicted.  The business case for a proactive flood response based on early estimates is a payback of up to 100:1!!!!  The outlook for our first ever award-winning innovation (from 2014)  was looking very positive at this time.   Capped off by a presentation to the UK rail industry in early May which had follow-up promises of an engagement.  As an ex-train geek, I was especially excited.


The Middle Bit – a couple of loops and a corkscrew

It is now summer and the engagement with the UK Rail industry has hit a snag.   The conversation going along these lines…

“Yes we want to talk to you but we need an impact assessment first.  This has to come from a tier one supplier due to the safety critical nature of the railway”.

Luckily I know several tier one suppliers.  I get some quotes.   £70,000 seems to be the average cost.   I go back for a request for some funding.

“Yes this is possible, but you need a business case first”.   “How does one  acquire a business case sponsor?”  I ask, “Well it starts with an impact assessment….”


Flooding in Downing Street

Cat outside 10 Downing St

Famous Cat in Downing Street

More positive news though on using Flood Event Model for the Emergency Services. I was invited, along with the STFC Hartree Centre, to present our case for a prediction driven proactive response to flooding events. This was to Rt Hon Oliver Letwin as part of his Flood Resilience Review.

We had a favourable response with a promise to identify further funding and sponsorship from the blue light community to take the model forward.   Elated, myself and Michael Gleaves from the STFC Hartree Centre departed No. 9 Downing St.  Our elation would be short-lived…

Arghh… Brexit.  Brakes are put on any further support for Flood Event Model.  Overnight.    The resilience review kicked using ‘prediction to improve flood resilience’  down the road.

With a recommendation to…

“Look at this capability from 2020”.

Flooding For Sale

Sigh again…. David & I decided to put Flood Event Model into storage.   We can be agile. If it is not working, stop and move on. Flooding is not going anywhere soon. It is a proven idea..so it is also for sale if anyone can exploit the IP.

Our experience demonstrates how critical it is for big data projects to be able to take advantage of the new insight or outcome opportunity that processed data offers.  No action resulting from the new information equals no business case to create new information in the first place.  We simply could not find someone who could take advantage of a prediction.  That was way too ‘Minority Report’ for the local authorities.   We will see what happens from 2020…

Disco Dollshouse

The summer was not all bad news as we did have some fun working with what would be a future customer in Compare the Cloud and supporting our friends at IBM when we demonstrated our Disco Dollhouse IoT Concept at the Silicon Roundabout Bluemix PopUp.  A week of showcasing KnowNow in Shoreditch.

The Beathouse physical representation as a dollhouse

Disco Dollshouse – IoT Concept

The Dollhouse concept is all about demonstrating that relative comfort in a building varies across the different parts of the building.  Comfort is also not just about temperature it is about the wider climatic indicators and this varies depending on need/demand.  We demonstrate comfort via different LED settings.  We also correlate the weather and then predict what the comfort will be.

Apart from a wee installation snag, the feedback and customer engagement was great.  Plus we picked up some new customer work too!  The rollercoaster is rocking!

Energy Game Changer

InnovateUK – possibly funding our new JV ENtelligence.

Innovate UK had just launched the Energy Game Changer program and we knew we had a solution almost ready that would be a good fit in terms of scope.   This was based on the dollhouse concept, plus some extra bits.   However, some expertise was missing so KnowNow filled this gap via a joint venture with PCSG  – In fact, they came up with name ENtelligence the name of our new automatic, predictive comfort management solution.  PCSG are in a brilliant position to take advantage of the data that KnowNow can collect, process, analyse and present about a building and its occupants. Because they know what data or incentive or message to change occupant behaviour has the most impact. This is a fantastic symbiotic collaboration.     Now we just need to win the award from Innovate UK.

Consentua in the news

More positive news on the Consentua front was delivered in the summer which demonstrates our pivot toward Consentua is justified. In essence, we pivoted away from one set of objectives (Flood Event Model) and focused on a new set (Consentua).

Consentua logo

Consentua – privacy and consent service – our new top focus

Our confidence grew again with two bits of good news.  The first was the award from Innovate UK for deploying Consentua alongside PortID for a Sharing EconomyUK customer. The bonus with this award was that it did not attract state aid rules or payments in arrears.  We start the design work right away.  The cash will be with us soon. Surely…?

CC2i – new friends

The other news we had with Consentua was adoption by a new public sector focused innovation platform called Collaborate to Innovate.  The simple aim for this platform is to

CC2i challenges

make it easy for a bunch of local authorities to collaborate together so as to solve common challenges.  Thus reducing risk, cost and improving the chances of adoption countrywide.

Consentua was picked as a launch innovation for CC2i as it met their objectives as a new innovation that would make life easier for a collective.  We chose Adult Social Care (ASC) and applying Consentua as a tool to help ASC providers share data with 3rd parties.

Fun with Watson

Another customer project was also delivered on time and to the budget during the summer student vacation period.  With an additional bonus that KnowNow got to try out two new potential employees (who were also trying us out too);  plus we advanced our knowledge of the latest IBM Bluemix Watson API’s. A very successful outcome for all.

Dragons Den

Oh, in addition, PCSG & KnowNow pitched ENtelligence to a ‘Dragons Den’ style panel at InnovateUK.  The Pitch went well.  The Panel asked good questions and were engaged, Fingers crossed, we find out in November.

The Last Loop & Final Big Dipper

Always in the background running a small business is the ongoing cashflow struggle.  Spending on wages, business expenses, travel and your own general living are all a financial drain, especially when you are waiting for invoices to be paid and promised work to commence.  Will I be in business at the end of the year? Is a question that every entrepreneur will ask at some point.   At the lowest point in our rollercoaster year, David & I were asking this question.  The answer was always yes, but we had to make some sacrifices to ensure that came true.  Again, no different to the experience that others have already faced.

SocITM endorsement

As Autumn gave way to winter we had some good news from Jane at CC2i.   SocITM has picked up on the capability of Consentua too:

A UK government minister* recently confirmed that we will be implementing the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018.    The new regulation marks a big shift in data protection regulation towards giving individuals very high degrees of control over the use of their personal data by other parties. 

 It is a fact that local public services are ever increasingly underpinned by digital and other ICT


systems that gather, store and exchange personal data. Furthermore, local public services are many and diverse and must operate at the local population level of scale. They will each need to develop entirely new processes to obtain and then manage a variety of differently informed consent life-cycles from potentially 100,000’s of individuals. 

 This proposal is to co-develop new GDPR-compliant processes and supporting digital service tooling that can be brought to market to the benefit of the co-developers and many other local public service providers.   This intention is aligned to Socitm’s recommended strategy of encouraging Simplify–Standardise–Share. 

November 2016

* Secretary of State Karen Bradley MP at the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee in October 2016

This gives the Consentua Adult Social Care offer some serious backing.   Early 2017 will see us pushing this message to the target audience – those involved in delivering adult social care.   We only need 5 local authorities/sponsors to start the work.

ENtelligence Success

The final months of 2016 have seen the successful conclusion in our quest for funding for ENtelligence with the confirmation of an award from InnovateUK.  This is a grant that will subsidise the development of ENTelligence in one test building so we can prove the business case, user reaction and whether it delivers the 20% energy saving we predict.   Watch this space as the ENtelligence story unfolds.

Malaysia with UK Trade and Industry

Night photo of Kuala Lumpur's famous Petronas Twin Towers - a must visit for the Malaysia Trade Mission!

Kuala Lumpur’s famous Petronas Twin Towers – a must visit for the Malaysia Trade Mission!

A final twist to the KnowNow story of 2016 is that the UKTI have picked KnowNow as one of the UK best potential exporters.  This is based on some expertise in IoT and smart cities.  A great honour and offering fantastic support.

To that end, David went on a trade mission to Malaysia in late November.  A good for the business visit that yielded more opportunities especially for Consentua!

Looking ahead to 2017 and the next ride

So 2017 boils down to two core focus areas.

  1. Developing and marketing Consentua so that it can become the number one user consent product in mass circulation used be developers & citizens globally. By giving citizens the tools so they can control their data is even more exciting and may even herald the end of pointless terms and conditions. Watch this space…
  2. Developing ENtelligence and then evaluating whether the theory can be applied in practice.     Answers will be known by the end of the year!

We still have a way to go, but we also realise that KnowNow is on a path that is never straight, with lots of twists, turns, loops and drops.   But always exciting.

Growing Team

KnowNow starts 2017 welcoming new members to the team.  Jack and David have kindly agreed to continue working on our projects whilst still squeezing in study time.


Students headshot of Jack Mason

Jack Mason

Students Headshot of David Ralph

David Ralph







Mr Gomer - Co-creator

Mr Gomer – Consentua co-creator


Richard Gomer will be joining us in early 2017 (post his PhD) part time at first then moving to be be the go to lead for all things Consentua.  Richard is one of the few global experts on consent, GDPR and the user experience.  Which are precisely the benefits that Consentua enables.



Shaab Al-Baghdadi – Privacy Impact Assessment guru


To strengthen our sales engagement and pipeline generation for Consentua we have a new associate joining us in Shaab Al-Baghdadi who will be leading the privacy impact assessments on our behalf.   From these assessments, customers can maximise their use of Consentua.



Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Thanks for reading,  Chris

Author bio

Chris Cooper is the chief convenor of Ideas and Innovation at KnowNow. Focusing on Smart Cities, his passion is taking client requirements and turning these into sustainable, resilient and usable solutions. A Chartered Engineer and Enterprise Architect, Chris is one of the founders of KnowNow Information.  

Chris is contactable at @mobilitycooper

You can follow KnowNow  @knownowinfo;  Consentua is available at @Consentua