Jamie McHale

Data Hackathon

The Data Lab Challenge Competition

This weekend was the second installment in The Data Lab Challenge Competition with Product Forge. The Challenge is a series of hackathons for Data Science students in Scotland. Students build data-oriented projects and reports that aim to deliver a tangible benefit for Scotland.

I was invited to mentor at the weekend, providing support and advice for the teams, and to help prepare some of the data sets.

There are a wide range of data sets that Product Forge have published on USmart, including a repository of NHS ISD data, for the students to build on.

After seeing the teams work, and listening to the pitches, the key takeaways for me from the weekend were:

  • Teams do better when they just get started, rather than searching for the ‘perfect’ idea or data set.
  • Teams do better by building incrementally, rather than trying to do it all at once.
  • Teams do better when they focus on specific questions they can ask of the data they have, rather than hoping a revelation pops out of the exploration process.

I’m looking forward to the final challenge hack in May — to see what all the teams end up producing. For more news on this, and further hacks follow The Data Lab and Product Forge on Twitter.