Being Radically Open during the COVID-19 outbreak: Covid-19 Open Data Hackathon

30 March 2020

On Thursday 26 March 2020, the Open Data Institute Leeds, Beautiful Information and NHS Digital joined forces to host the inaugural Open Data Saves Lives hackathon in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It attracted over 50 participants across the spectrum of public and private sector organisations from local authorities, universities and NHS trusts to clinical commissioning groups and charities like the British Red Cross.

There was a collective appetite for transparent, localised data so that health, government and community services get a more accurate picture of a city like Leeds, for example. If we could get standardised, integrated data sets in one city, it could then be shared and scaled to work for many other towns, cities and regions.

Paul Connell, founder of ODI Leeds, emphasised the benefits of this approach #OpenDataSavesLives can bring people together to respond to the situation we are all facing. We want to encourage and empower people to work ‘in the open’, talk about your work, ask for help, share your success on our open doc. We can then link up the incredible work being done, remove barriers and speed up the response.”

The unprecedented, frontline challenge for NHS Trusts was also outlined by Richard Ewins, director of product development at Beautiful Information “Trusts are in urgent need of Covid-19 metrics and many informatics teams are now reporting on some key areas.” He continued, “The challenge is to try and standardise and validate reporting and analytics whilst the whole health system is under immense and unprecedented clinical pressure. Every service, from A&E to Pathology and Pharmacy are working to their capacity.”

Many other participants had also started some form of Covid-19 project, be it for community and voluntary services or academic research. The group acknowledged that whilst all work was valuable, the opportunity with an open hackathon is that we can identify possible duplication and pool effort. This could result in some sub-groups forming and concentrating expertise on some defined areas like the impact on the elderly or other vulnerable groups.

Beautiful Information’s managing director, Scott Parker, reiterated the value in this approach “We should not be reinventing the wheel all over the UK, and the world. Now, more than ever, we need to collect, analyse and share data as quickly and easily as possible, across the whole health economy.”

The agreed next step is to run an open, online session every week and share ideas and resources on a living document. For those wishing to join, please visit the blogpost:

Hackathon session 2

Open google doc:

Press enquiries: paul.clark@beautifulinformation