Four projects get green light from UK Data Service Innovation Fund

Article dated: 27 August 2014

An incubator fund established to support innovative new ideas at the UK Data Service has selected four pioneering projects to move into implementation.

In late July 2014, the leaders of seven pilot projects shared findings from a three-month pilot in Dragon’s Den-style presentations to the Innovation Fund panel. At the end of the day, four got a green light to Round 2. Each will receive a share of £450,000 grants from the Economic and Social Research Council to implement their ideas over the coming year.

The four projects provide a spread of initiatives across the Service, all offering creative innovations for digital data services. Two of the four are led by companies outside the higher education sector, marking a turning point in the UK Data Service’s technical scope and development.

The four successful projects are:

Open Innovation Challenge
Lead: Ralph Cochrane, loudSource

This project will run a crowdsourcing ‘app challenge’ competition for developers which is based on a selection of specially prepared data from the UK Data Service that are Open Data-compliant via the Nesstar API. It is expected that the competition will lead to innovative new apps being developed that can help showcase our data. To prepare for the challenge, the project team will join the UK Data Service technical team to build a suitable infrastructure to ensure that the API can cope with the volume of queries that may result from multiple apps using it.

Visualising Data
Lead: David Lewis, Audiencenet

This project focuses on enhancing the profile and brand of the UK Data Service through enhanced visualisation of key facts and figures (some of which are collected in real time via an API). The team will deliver some appealing visualisations and editable infographics templates for case studies. One of the aims is to entice new users by demystifying some of the information, currently presented on our website in more complex form. The products will be tested using ongoing qualitative research and usability testing with a range of user types.

Lead: Paul Williamson, University of Liverpool

This project offers advanced users alternative access to 2001 and 2011 UK Census data in Infuse using the R statistical programme via an API. InfuseR will maximise data discovery and selection such as offering the ability to find the ‘parent geographies’ of a given area (for example, the ward of Everton is in which district?) and the ability to search for data by variable category as well as by variable.

Risk Utility Management Tool
Lead: Richard Welpton, UK Data Archive

This project will offer data owners and archives the ability to evaluate the sensitivity or disclosure risk of microdata using an R-based tool working with Statistical Disclosure Control parameters and algorithms. The project will develop and extend the existing R package ‘sdcMicroGUI’ to create an enhanced software application that will safely deliver anonymised versions of a confidential data source. The tools will be tested with real data from the Office for National Statistics.

In the initial stage of Round 2, the Service will build a coherent API interface that would enable access to all the APIs available from our various data platforms.


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