The Data Lab is teaming up with UNICEF in a bid to encourage data sharing in public and private organisations to help solve pressing public problems. The first collaborative project aims to tackle the issue of childhood obesity in Scotland, with between 29% and 33% of children aged 2-15 at risk of serious obesity-related health complications.
According to UNICEF, solving some of the most complex problems affecting children around the world will require access to different data sets and expertise from diverse sectors. The rapid rise in the availability of quality data offers a wealth of information to address complex problems affecting children. The charity has identified an opportunity to tap into this potential through collaborative working, prompting the development of DataCollaboratives.org in partnership with The Governance Lab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and the Omidyar Network. The aim for DataCollaboratives is to encourage organisations from different sectors, including private companies, research institutions, government agencies and others, to exchange and share data to help solve public problems.
The initiative is now being promoted in Scotland through UNICEF’s partnership with The Data Lab, who will work together to deliver a Data Collaboratives hub in Scotland where data scientists and strategists will work on some of the most important issues facing children around the world. Finding solutions to these problems has the potential to transform the lives of some of the most disadvantaged children in Scotland, the UK, and around the globe.
Jude McCorry, Business Development Director at The Data Lab, explains: “While there is evidence relating to economic conditions and weight of children, there are other factors where there is no firm evidence such as diet, advertising and level of exercise.
“We would like to collaborate with the owners of data sources like shopper data, TV adverts, online gaming, use of green spaces and school lunch suppliers through the Data Collaboratives platform. We want to use the data to predict, inform and then help families and organisations that play an influential role in our children’s lives. It’s about helping understand the real factors impacting obesity.”
Lucinda Rivers, Head of Unicef UK in Scotland, adds: “This initial pilot collaborative project will not only help children in Scotland but the knowledge will be disseminated to UNICEF HQ in New York to support the work we do for children around the world. As well as data and expertise on the obesity challenge, we also welcome ideas on the resource, time and financial support that will be required to more clearly understand and therefore tackle Scotland’s child obesity problem.”
Roger Halliday Chief Data Officer, Scottish Government says: “The Scottish Data community has a fantastic ‘can do attitude’ and comes together regularly at events such as hackathons – particularly when they know their skills can do societal good. Using public and private data to understand and solve these challenges will be good for Scotland.”