Hackathon Wins The Institute Of Analytics Inaugural Social For Data Good Award

  • Published: 16 February 2023

The Social Value In Defence hackathon, a cross-industry collaboration that is creating a blueprint for sustainable data-driven social value projects, won the first Data for Social Good award. This was presented as part of the inaugural Analysts Awards from the Institute of Analytics (IoA), the global professional body for analytics and data science professionals, launched to celebrate data's positive impact on business and society.

he hackathon was hosted by Microsoft with participating teams from Babcock, the Ministry of Defence, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, whatimpact, Plymouth County Council and the University of Plymouth.

Run as a pilot over five days in December 2022, the goal was to create a social value data platform built on open-source data sets to provide an accurate picture of the socio-economic status of a defined area. The team focused on looking for tangible ways to tackle economic inequality as well as equal opportunities, particularly reducing the disability employment gap.

By pooling resources and skills, the team of data analysts and social value experts built and tested a comprehensive and credible data set. Using this data, the team were able to create an in-depth analysis of the chosen pilot area, Plymouth, providing information that will be vital to help businesses plan and better understand social value needs. Plymouth was chosen for the pilot due to its alignment with Plymouth Pathfinder, an ongoing collaboration between government, business, academia, and local stakeholders to work with the common purpose to build legacy.

The resulting user-friendly platform will have the potential to be accessed by public, private and third sector organisations, locally and nationally, to inform, direct and coordinate resources and interventions to deliver meaningful benefits and achieve impact where it is most needed. The platform is scheduled for launch later this year.

Insights provided through the platform included:

  • Educational attainment against types of disability which could be used for properly targeting support in the mentally and physically disabled community.
  • Migration of students after education which could be a useful insight in understanding and researching how skills are being utilised within the UK.
  • Key correlating health metrics within a regional area, ranging from economic conditions through to obesity and child poverty, which could be used for identifying areas of research required to improve overall societal health and economic conditions.
  • A dashboard that shows geographic mapping against societal deprivation was developed, which was a key insight tool for using the data available in the UK indices of multiple deprivation.
  • Hackathon Wins The Institute Of Analytics Inaugural Social For Data Good Award

    This proof of concept is just a first step in supporting the team's broader ambition to create a series of future hackathons to encourage businesses and governments to have a greater understanding of social value requirements.

    Dr Clare Walsh, IoA Director of Education, said this about the win: "This government and industry project demonstrated the power of open-source data and technology solutions to solve future challenges and represents the way ahead for a more collaborative world. Too often we see big companies unwilling to share their data and resources for the greater good. The IoA has been championing the power of open data to provide impactful societal and economic value, so we were thrilled to see huge strides in this field. We look forward to seeing what comes out of this venture."

    Commenting on the win, Kat Dixon, Analytics Business Partner at Babcock who submitted the nomination, said "We're delighted to have won the IoA's Data for Social Good award. It's now a legal requirement for a minimum of 10% of all UK government contracts to be allocated to social value projects. Using the data to gain a granular insight into a particular region will really help organisations understand where their resources should go to make a meaningful and measurable difference whether that's on sustainability projects or creating new jobs."

    David Whipp, Social Value Specialist within the Defence Suppliers Forum and Ministry of Defence, added: "Working in collaboration with partners like Babcock and others we have been able to create a really exciting pilot that actually demonstrates how we can use data to create real, tangible benefits aimed at improving people's lives."

    The 2023 IoA Analysts Awards will be launched later this year.