Social Value Hackathon pilot wins international data award 

A group of technology experts from leading defence companies, including Babcock and the Defence Suppliers Forum (DSF), are celebrating after winning a global award for their ground-breaking work in highlighting the powerful impact data can have on improving people’s lives.

The Institute of Analytics (IoA) has given its first ever ‘Data for Social Good Award’ to the Social Value in Defence hackathon project. The cross-industry collaboration also included employees from Microsoft, Ministry of Defence, Defence Equipment and Support, social value platform, whatimpact, Plymouth City Council, BAE Systems and Northrup Grumman.

The team of data analysts and social value experts were announced as the winners of this award, on 9 February, following the hackathon pilot at the end of last year. During the hackathon, the team built and tested a comprehensive data-set combining advanced analytics in several days. With that data, the team was 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.

The pilot was led by Babcock employees who were able to use their local knowledge of Plymouth, as the area’s largest employer. The team wanted to see if they could successfully create a credible, accessible and easy to use, open-source data directory. The idea was to create a shared vision between government, private sector and charities, to help them make better informed social value decisions around employment and environmental projects.  

The lessons learnt and the created visualisations are already being shared for the next hackathon challenges as the aim is to roll out the programme nationally. The IoA said the project team “demonstrated the power of open-source data and technology solutions to solve future challenges”.

Dr Clare Walsh, Director of Education at the IoA, said it was the best example they had seen of how “data can be used to solve the humanitarian and environmental problems facing society today”.

Kat Dixon, Analytics Business Partner, Babcock, part of the winning team said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have won the IoA’s first ‘Data for Social Good Award’. It really shows how we can harness the power of data through technology.

“Understanding data is playing an increasingly significant role in assessing and responding to the needs of communities where government contracts will be delivered. The creation of an open and transparent data platform also means companies and governments can use the data to gain a better insight into where and how resource should be allocated and drive increased impact through the practice of social value.”

David Whipp, Social Value Specialist, within the DSF and Ministry of Defence added: “What we have created doesn’t just involve defence – this is definitely a one Government approach. 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.

“We look forward to sharing our results with other Government departments so they can all learn from our experience, and we can now move forward onto future collaborative social value projects.”

To find out more about this award-winning hackathon pilot, watch this video: