Data Study Groups (DSG) are an incredible opportunity for organisations (Challenge Owners) to work with talented multi-disciplinary researchers on real-world data science challenges. Those challenges can be quickly and intensely brainstormed and interrogated during the DSG, with solutions proposed in a final report along with ideas and suggestions for potential further investigation.
“As an organisation we want to embrace the power of Data Science and be on the front foot for the latest thinking. Linking up with the Turing-LIDA DSG will help us turbocharge our projects with the latest academic techniques.” (Challenge Owner)
“We got involved in the DSG to get access to highly qualified critical thinking and a solution to our business problem.” (Challenge Owner)
During an additional pre-cursor week, the six Challenge Owners – Asda, Network Rail, Ordnance Survey NI, Sainsbury’s, Vet A-I and another retailer – outlined their challenges in presentations to 62 participants (including researchers from LIDA and the CDRC). With those challenges ranging from the effect of the weather on sales, to the need to accurately locate and identify urban features such as drains, participants then indicated their preferences before being allocated to teams.
Following several “getting to know you” opportunities as well as training sessions on “Collaborative Report Writing” and “Teamwork on Agile projects”, those teams were ready to hit the ground (or data!) running on Monday 12th for an intensive fortnight of research and investigation.
Working remotely has its challenges, as well as its benefits. While there isn’t the energy and intensity of being in the same room, bouncing around ideas and issues in real-time, teams have daily “stand-ups” (part of working in an Agile approach to solution development) and a dedicated Slack channel for communication.
One fantastic benefit is that remote working has enabled researchers to participate from all over the world, including India, Pakistan, Canada and Mexico. That also provides the additional learning opportunity of working globally across different time zones!
The pandemic and WFH has necessitated significant changes in working securely with data. Usually DSG teams would access that within safe rooms in a location like LIDA or the Alan Turing Institute, but the last 18 months have seen great advances in cloud-based data safe havens. Four projects will be hosted in Turing Safe Havens, while the data for the other two will be analysed within LIDA’s new LASER platform.
Each team will produce a report for their Challenge Owner at the end of the DSG – we’ll share more information about their research insights and discoveries once those are approved and published.