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Durham and Blaenau Gwent launch national data contest


Mel Poluck Correspondent

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A £1 million competition has been launched by two local authorities to improve delivery of their services using advanced data collection and analysis.

Durham County Council and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council are seeking organisations that can develop intelligent data capture and advanced data analysis techniques to reduce service inefficiencies.

The councils are looking for solutions that also integrate with other datasets, enable them to share data with the public and provide a robust evidence base for policy, service or budget development.

Eyes on the street

Applicants must develop techniques to enable the collection and reporting of data by both residents and by council vehicles as they are driven around – ‘boots on the ground and eyes on the street,’ according to the Innovate UK’s Small Business Research Initiative, leading the competition.

Winners will receive £250,000 to fund short feasibility studies in a first phase, with the best submissions sharing £1 million in a second phase to prototype a system.

The competition is funded by the £20 million GovTech Catalyst, which aims to help the public sector take advantage of new and emerging technology through a series of ‘challenges’ to improve public services. It is open to any organisation that can demonstrate a route to market for its idea.

Other challenges within this first round are: identifying imagery from terrorist group Daesh; tracking waste through the waste chain; tackling loneliness and rural isolation; and cutting traffic congestion.

Better public services

Councillor Brian Stephens, portfolio holder for neighbourhoods and local partnerships at Durham County Council said: “We are excited to see the applications and the development of an innovative, bespoke solution that will enable us to deliver even better public services based on the use of real-time data.”

Councillor Dai Davies, executive member for regeneration & economic development at Blaenau Gwent Borough Council said: “We have the ability to capture so much information, but not quite sure how we interpret it and use it to its full benefit. So there’s our challenge…it’s over to the experts to find us a solution.”

Earlier this year, the Welsh Government announced a £25 million investment over three years to make Blaenau Gwent and the wider Valleys a globally recognised centre for the development and delivery of emerging technologies. The scheme is part of the Tech Valleys programme, which will see Welsh Government investment of more than £30 million by the end of 2021.



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