Announcing the winners of our inaugural IoA Analysts Awards

  • Published: 09 February 2023

Winners of the 2022 IoA Analysts Awards were announced today by the Institute of Analytics (IoA).

The awards were created to celebrate data's positive impact on business and society and were judged by a panel of data analytics and education experts. "The awards go far beyond acknowledging data solution strategies," said Dr Clare Walsh, IoA Director of Education. "They recognise those who are agenda-leading in the world of data analytics with the ambition and potential to drive substantial positive change.

Though the awards were only launched recently, outstanding nominations were received from around the world which truly represented our aim of recognising individuals, teams and organisations that are delivering a new blueprint for the 21st century.

An in-depth profile of each of the winning submissions will be shared in the coming weeks.

Winner of Data for Social Good: Social Value In Defence

The Social Value In Defence hackathon is a cross-industry collaboration with a clear aim: 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 ambition is to create a platform and user interface which would be accessible to both 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. 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 common purpose to build legacy.

The hackathon was hosted by Microsoft over five days, with participating teams from Babcock, the Ministry of Defense, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, whatimpact, Plymouth County Council and the University of Plymouth.

Insights provided through the platform include:

  • 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.

This is what the judges had to say about the winning nomination:

This is what the judges had to say about the winning nomination:

"This is an unusual collaboration between government and industry to work together to understand the power of open-source data. We at the IoA have been championing the power of open data to provide real societal and economic value and we were thrilled to see real progress in this field.

"Governments and leaders have a large number of complex challenges ahead, and accurate data can inform decisions. We also recognise the potential to cascade learnings from this project down, through the role that governments play in society, particularly to those who may otherwise be excluded.

"Innovation does not need to mean the creation of new technologies, but innovative uses of the resources we have can be of huge benefit. We look forward to following up with the teams involved to see what comes out of this venture."

Winner of Innovative & Application of Research: Ecological Data Analytics

Ecological Data Analytics is an ambitious project led by Dr Colin Torney of the University of Glasgow with the goal of investigating animal movement and population dynamics with machine learning. Dr Torney was nominated by his colleague Prof Dirk Husmeier, Chair of Statistics at the University of Glasgow. 

This collaborative project is producing insights into the movements of wildebeest on the Serengeti. The research will facilitate decision-making around conserving and promoting wildlife in the face of human disturbance.

While there have been animal monitoring projects in the region, this study is able to combine macro insights on animal behaviour with micro data at the level of an individual animal in migration. Special collars were designed to monitor the GPS movements of wildebeest in real time and send information on animal location and behaviour over a radio network. The data, combined with observational data from ecology experts on the ground, have made it possible to uncover data markers of key wildebeest behaviours such as grazing (from data on head tilts) or running. By tracking changes in natural behaviour of the wildebeest when they enter areas with high human activity, ecologists hope to understand the threat disturbances such as tourism pose to local animal populations better. 

This is what the judges had to say about the winning nomination:

"Dr Torney has been studying the collective movement and population dynamics of animals using advanced machine learning and digital image processing to identify individual animals. While there has been work at the level of species identification in the past, the level of detail in this study, linking up properties and observations at a micro level, marks it out as a major step forward in the use of animal population studies. 

"In terms of the technology used, he has had to combine different machine learning approaches to develop these solutions, working on very large data sets. It is valuable research and marks a way forward for all of us.

"The work is also valuable to us around the world, as a tool to accurately measure the impact of changing human activity on animal populations. We have, in recent years, invested heavily in the idea that data can save the world from the destructive impact of environmental change, largely because we're not sure what else to try at this point.

"For all these reasons, we selected this project to win because it is breaking through that barrier of more detailed insights to make the best decisions."

Winner of Young Analyst: Sriya Sainath

Sriya Sainath is currently doing her MBA at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore. She was nominated by Prof. U Dinesh Kumar, Chairperson at the Data Centre and Analytics Lab and member of faculty in the Decision Sciences area of IIM Bangalore for being "extremely talented", for her strong technical skills and for her commitment to excellence in all that she does.

Her list of accolades is long: Sriya was awarded the Flipkart Vidyarthini Scholar and Most Promising MBA Student from across India's top B-schools. She is a Double Endowment Awardee, received a Recognition Award by Global VP and was the Global Winner of the Microsoft Hack for Ethics from a field of 65k+ participants. Sriya has won scholarships for her "academic brilliance" and is a Double Gold Medalist (Best All-Rounder & Institute Topper). Other achievements include Adobe Scholar from Women in Technology India, where she won out of 4k+ contenders and was recognised as "a promising future leader".

Sriya also excels in leadership positions including Global Representative at Women at Microsoft (2020), Vice President of the Literary and Debating Society (2018) and National Coordinator for Google Developers (2017) amongst other positions of responsibility.

In 2018, Sriya became a US Patent Holder for her Dynamic Pricing Model for maximising revenue with 30+% pricing optimization.

Sriya will become the first IoA Young Ambassador and will help encourage young people to have confidence in their data skills and to champion the profession.

This is what the judges had to say about the winning nomination:

"Sriya has an impressive number of national and international recognitions already on her CV. She was chosen as our IoA Young Analyst because her achievements embody the qualities that we know that analysts need, and we hope that her role as an Ambassador for Young Analysts will inspire others.

"Her technical skills have been demonstrated beyond question, in her academic and professional success. As the holder of a US patent, she has proven that age is not a barrier to contributing to the knowledge base in our field. We admire her teamwork spirit supporting others through the mentoring of newcomers while she was employed with Microsoft and in establishing a counselling service while at university. Ensuring GDPR compliance while working on a large data project shows her commitment to ethical work. Her success in debating competitions and her role on her school magazine demonstrated her recognition of the importance of communicative skills, as well as technical expertise.

"Having taken the lead on a number of successful projects already, she is now retraining in management and leadership skills and we look forward to seeing what she achieves in the future."