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The Data Science Campus

The Data Science Campus – how to collaborate on a project

Louisa Nolan, Senior Data Scientist, Data Science Campus, September 2017

Do you want to:

  • explore data sources such as satellite images, text, the Internet of Things, social media, big data, Blockchain etc?
  • explore the power of cutting-edge data science methodologies: artificial intelligence, clustering, random forests, neural networks, text mining, network analysis etc?
  • build data science capability in your team through collaboration with members of the data science community?
  • get a better insight into the UK’s economy, communities and people?
  • answer a question that traditional techniques and data sources have been unable to address?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we may be able to help.

Why are we here?

The mission of the Data Science Campus (the Campus) is data science for public good. We are here as the hub of data science for Government, with a remit for collaborative exploratory research and prototyping, and for building data science capability, as a resource for the whole of the GSS. Our projects may, if successful, be implemented into GSS outputs, may be one-off pieces of research, or may provide some other kind of insight or new dataset to support our work in the GSS.

What is data science?

I love this question, because the answer involves Venn diagrams and unicorns. Imagine a Venn diagram made of 3 circles, with all 3 overlapping in the middle. One of the circles is programming skills, one is subject matter expertise, and the final one is maths and stats expertise. The central overlap is data science, and a data scientist would ideally combine all 3 skills. Unfortunately, that overlap is rare, like a unicorn. This is why it is so important that we collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams and including with experts in stats and data across the GSS.

How to collaborate with us on a data science project

We don’t expect all of our collaborators to be experts in data science, or to know the solution to a problem before we discuss it. In fact, one of our most important goals is to support our GSS colleagues by sharing our own expertise with others through working together on projects.

Some key things to know about our projects are:

  • projects are commissioned by our collaborators outside the Campus
  • they are short, <= 6 months (they could even be a couple of weeks)
  • the data science work could be done entirely by our Campus data scientists. Or, the work could be done by our collaborators, with the Campus offering a mentoring role. This option is great for building skills!
  • we need to understand the impact of the project and what the data science learning is – both for us and our collaborators. This might be understanding a new data source, trying out a new technique, or taking a novel approach to solving a problem
  • we generally have an initial discussion, and then, if necessary, arrange a brain-storming workshop with data scientists, project commissioners and subject matter experts, to explore possibilities, and to define and agree the research question and deliverables
  • we want to work with you – we are here as a resource for the whole of the GSS

Most of all though, if you have an idea or challenge you think we can help with, please do get in touch!

Building capability

We are also developing a range of offerings for building capability across government: developing the data science apprentice scheme; training, learning pathways and role specifications for the data science profession in government; the development of a new MSc in data analytics for government, supporting the Data Science Accelerator Programme, and running and participating in hackathons. If you’d like to know more about any of these, or have any other question about data science capability, please get in touch.

More information

We have published an overview of all the projects we are currently running, and some (but not all) of those on our backlog for consideration. These give an overview of the types of work we are doing. If you would like to be involved in any of these, or know more about them, please do get in touch. Or, of course, if you have an idea of your own.

You can read about (almost) everything we have been up to on our blog.

Or you can contact us directly, to discuss ideas for collaboration or knowledge sharing:

email                    datasciencecampus@ons.gov.uk

Twitter                @DataSciCampus