Civil Service Data Challenge 2022 launched to unlock government innovation

By on 16/06/2022 | Updated on 16/06/2022
A picture of the winning team in the 2020 Civil Service Data Challenge
The 2021 Civil Service Data Challenge's winning team, pictured with Alex Chisholm, the chief operating officer of the civil service and Cabinet Office permanent secretary

The Civil Service Data Challenge is to return for a second year to help officials from across the UK government realise their ideas on how to improve the use of data within the public sector.

The challenge, which is a collaboration between NTT DATA UK, the Cabinet Office, Global Government Forum, and the Office for National Statistics, is open for entries from civil servants on how the data governments hold can be used to improve services.

The event culminates in a Dragons’ Den-style competition to find the most innovative ideas, with civil servants pitching them to expert judges in a semi-final and then a grand final. The winning proposal will receive both technical advice and development support from partner NTT DATA UK, and the backing of top civil servants. The sponsors for this year’s Data Challenge include Alex Chisholm, the chief operating officer of the civil service and Cabinet Office permanent secretary, and Heather Wheeler MP, parliamentary secretary in the Cabinet Office.

Chisholm said he was “delighted to be sponsoring the Data Challenge in its second year, having seen the extraordinary response we got from teams across the civil service last year”.

“The enthusiasm and skill of the competing teams was equalled by the quality and ingenuity of their proposals. Last years’ finalists are already driving real world improvements in public services,” he said.

Submit your idea here: https://www.datachallenge.uk/

Last year’s winning team proposed the deployment of an AI solution to protect the UK’s peatlands. The idea edged ahead of its rivals in a closely contested final thanks to its potential to help lock more carbon into the ground, reduce flooding risk, and assist the government with achieving its carbon emissions targets. The project has potential to be scaled for application worldwide, which helped to win over the judges. However, due to the impressive nature of all the finalists’ proposals, NTT DATA UK has continued to work with all of the teams to help ensure their ideas are brought to life.

For the 2022 challenge, civil servants have until 21 July to put forward their ideas or volunteer to join a team. An expert panel of judges will then review and select the eight most promising ideas to proceed to the next stage, which will examine their viability, as well as explore any challenges and the benefits of the proposals. These will be whittled down during a live semi-final event to four final ideas, before a grand finale where the judging panels will pick the best idea for further development. The winning team will benefit from the support of the programme’s judges, partners and sponsors, and the expert advice and technical prowess of NTT DATA UK.

Read more: A license to think afresh: how the Data Challenge empowered civil service innovators

Welcoming the launch of the 2022 Data Challenge, Vicki Chauhan, the head of public sector at NTT DATA UK, said: “Following the success of last year’s challenge, we are delighted to be launching the Civil Service Data Challenge 2022. The competition is a fantastic platform for civil servants to pitch their data ideas to a panel of senior leaders from across the civil service and industry. The use of data needs to be central to all of the government’s policy and decision making in order to produce better outcomes for citizens, and we cannot wait to see the new and innovative ideas that will be put forward in this year’s challenge.”

Submit your idea here: https://www.datachallenge.uk/

About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

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