In 2021, Warwick delivered the DSSGx UK Summer Projects in collaboration with Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, supported by The Alan Turing Institute and the DSSG Foundation. It was delivered under the DSSGx UK chapter of the DSSG Foundation.
The DSSGx UK Summer Projects was a 12-week Fellowship programme that trained students to create industry-standard data science products in collaboration with government agencies and NGOs, to deliver positive social impact.
DSSGx UK 2021 took place from 7 June – 27 August, as an entirely online event. Given the situation, the 2021 programme provided a different kind of training experience than usual, and focused on providing more time for hands-on collaboration with our mentors in implementing project goals.
During the 2021 programme, the R programming language was used, specifically the mlr3 ecosystem implemented in R. mlr3 offers basic functions for machine learning, but also extensions for preprocessing, pipelining, visualisation and other tasks. Strong coding experience was a prerequisite, preferably with R experience (or at least eagerness to learn it).
The DSSGx UK 2021 Team
The DSSGx 2021 team consisted of fellows from around the world, who had been selected following a rigorous application and interview process. They were supported by Technical Mentors and Project Managers with extensive experience in the field of Data Science. And this was backed up by the team from The University of Warwick and Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität in Munich, as well as many supportive volunteers, who contributed their time to various tasks within the programme.
This is what some of the fellows had to say about their experience of DSSGx 2021:
"DSSGx Summer Fellowship was an amazing experience. This is the perfect opportunity for data scientists looking to make a direct positive social impact through their work. I got to work with a governmental organization to solve a problem that could help them support millions of people. There is no better feeling than that. Through the project, I was able to learn a lot and level up my data science skills while developing an understanding of social science and its intersection with data science. I also worked with a global team and became friends with people all across the world. I highly recommend this program to budding data scientists and students who want to work on projects that really matter."
"DSSGx was an amazing experience. I learned a lot, made friends worldwide, and felt like I'm a part of something great. I definitely recommend it to all aspiring data scientist interested in changing the world."
"Working with DSSGx UK over the summer is an experience you do not want to miss. It is the perfect opportunity to apply data science skills to real-world problems by working with NGOs and government agencies. You also get to work with people from all around the world, which makes the whole experience even more unique. This summer, I worked with students from India and Israel on building a bottom-up economic forecasting application for the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs. This is the kind of experience you would not be able to get anywhere else."
Thank you so much for organizing this amazing summer program for us! Really grateful for the experience!!
The DSSGx UK 2021 Projects
DSSGx Projects are suggested by our partner organisations and are data-driven challenges that will have significant impact on socially important problems. The projects in 2021 represented a diverse and global set of partnerships, with different challenges presented to the teams.
Take a look at the solutions that our fellows developed and delivered to the partners:
- Anomaly detection in public procurement: (DNCP)
- Mapping the world's offline population: (ITU)
- Improving economic forecasts in times of crises: (BMWi)
- Prioritising environmental complaints: (SMA)
Our project partners really appreciate the dedication, skills and results that are delivered by the fellows and their mentors, which they will hopefully benefit from in the future. Here's what a few have to say:
"The DSSG experience has been amazing – the fellows are embarrassingly smart and I’m impressed by the quality of their work and their dedication to the project."
Youlia Lozanova, ITU
"As Superintendent of Environment of Chile, we are pleased to have participated in the DSSGx program with the project of environmental complaints prioritization. Soon after we began working together, we noticed the compromise of the team which not only ended up translating into a high-quality product but also gave us many insights about the particular problem and the complaint process in general. It has been a wonderful experience for us and we highly recommend being part of this initiative to other organizations who want to get the most of their data and engage with a team of bright professionals."
Pablo Aguirre Hörmann, SMA
"DSSGx offers fruitful exchange, new perspectives and practical solutions to real-world problems. Great, skilled and highly motivated participants - unbelievably helpful for all sides!“
Sören Enkelmann, BMWi
DSSGx 2021 Public Lectures
DSSG arranges a series of public lectures each year, with top speakers from data and social science providing insight and inspiration into their own area of specialism. The 2021 series included topics such as 'Responsible data science in the COVID-19 era', 'Getting Good at Doing "Data for Good" ' and 'Macroeconomic Forecasting: a comparison of popular approaches and the impact of the Covid pandemic'. These and others are available to view here.
DSSGx 2021: Datafest
The closing event of DSSGx UK was held online, on 2 September, to an invited audience. The event was opened by Andy Lockett, Dean of Warwick Business School and Juergen Branke, University of Warwick Programme Director for DSSGx UK.
The keynote speaker was Ben Goldacre, Director of The DataLab, University of Oxford, physician, academic and broadcaster, and the title of his talk was 'OpenSAFELY: how we built a fully open source secure analytics platform for 58 million patients' NHS records in six weeks during COVID-19, and why!'
Each of the DSSGx project teams then gave a presentation on the problem they had been given and how they came up with a solution, getting it ready to handover to the project partner.
To listen to Ben's talk and see each individual team presentation, view them here.
We gratefully acknowledge the support from our sponsors.
DSSGx 2021 was delivered in partnership with: