The Industry Data for Society Partnership and the Open Data Institute Announce Three Winners of the Data for Local Environments Challenge

June 21, 2023

In February of 2023, the Industry Data for Society Partnership (IDSP) and the Open Data Institute (ODI) launched the Data for Local Environments Challenge. The challenge aimed to highlight the role that publicly available data can play in helping local governments to improve local environments, such as reaching their net zero goals. The challenge was our first project following the formation of the partnership in December 2022 to highlight how the public can get more value out of open datasets, how the private sector can meaningfully contribute data, and to identify sustainable and scalable solutions that could be used across governments and regions. Our focus on using data to improve local environments and to help governments achieve their climate and sustainability goals is a reflection of the significant impact that our local environment has on the way we live, our health, the quality of the air that we breathe, and the local biodiversity around us.

Today, we’re proud to recognize the three winners of the data challenge:

  • Overall Winner – Estimated Energy Attribution Certificates, linked to Councils (UK)
  • 1st Runner Up – Infrastracker, Open Data for Local Governments to Reduce Infrastructure Development-Co2 Emissions (Kenya)
  • 2nd Runner Up – Climate Emergency UK: Council Climate Action Scorecards (UK)

There is a lot of public data available and yet identifying high-quality data sources and bringing datasets together in a meaningful way can take significant time, energy, and resources – elements often in short supply across cities, municipalities, counties, and other local governments. Through the data challenge, participating teams were asked to consider local governments’ plans to address climate change, and identify where progress can be made to improve the local environment. They suggested innovative solutions using publicly available data, including open datasets made available by IDSP partners LinkedIn, Microsoft, and UK Power Networks. A key outcome was for teams to identify gaps in the way local governments use data to develop current plans. Teams were then tasked to develop innovative, realistic, and replicable solutions using available datasets to address inefficiencies and improve government progress on environmental goals.  

During the submission period, we received a tremendous response with applications from 24 countries around the world. Out of these applications, 7 applications were shortlisted by expert evaluators from Microsoft, the Open Data Institute, and UK Power Networks to proceed to the next stage of the challenge. The evaluators considered various criteria such as the potential impact of the ideas and their utilization of public data during the evaluation process. Our judging panel that determined the final three winners from the shortlist were: Linda Chandler – Industry Lead, UK Smart Places, Microsoft; Shannon Dosemagen – Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and Director; Melissa Tallack – Open Data Lead, Northumbrian Water Group; Matt Webb – Head of Enterprise Data Management, UK Power Networks; Micheline Ayoub, MSc, PhD – Executive Director, Sustainability in the Digital Age; and Casey Weston – Senior Manager, Public Policy & Economic Graph, LinkedIn.

The IDSP and the ODI are proud to recognize the three winners of the Data for Local Environments Challenge. The prize for the overall winner is $50,000, with $30,000 and $20,000 going to the 1st and 2nd runners-up, respectively.

Overall Winner: Estimated Energy Attribution Certificates, linked to Councils (UK)

This application found that to stay on track for net zero, the emissions intensity of generating electricity needs to drop from around 200 gCO2/kWh today to around 10 gCO2kWh in 2035.

UK Local authorities face several challenges in working towards this goal:

  • Insufficient measurement granularity
  • Developing Local Area Energy Plans (LAEPs)
  • Approving planning for renewable sites
  • Fragmented and inconsistent data

To address these challenges, this project creates Estimated Energy Attribution Certificates (EEACs) that are calculated on a half-hourly basis and tied to individual assets. By combining generation data across UKPN’s ECR, BMRS, and REPD datasets, as well as modelling renewable generation using ERA5 data from Microsoft, the total renewable generation in each local authority can be calculated. The implied reduction in emissions can then be estimated based on half-hourly carbon intensity data from the National Grid.

1st Runner Up: Infrastracker, Open Data for Local Governments to Reduce Infrastructure Development-Co2 Emissions (Kenya)

Infrastracker (portmanteau for infrastructure and tracker) is a proposed project in Kenya that integrates community-centred public participation in transport infrastructure development and open data including Motor Vehicle Registration, GIS and GHG emissions data to support the recently established local/County Governments to reduce carbon emissions and environmental impact during road construction processes. It seeks to incorporate community engagement, evidence-based and innovative technology in public road works infrastructure projects to advance environmental education through citizen science and journalism, monitor climate elements, and share the findings with the community to build climate resilience in the country; evoke practical environmental awareness amongst road users; build the capacity of the community to use accurate and reliable weather and climate data to counter climate misinformation; and create early warning systems for enhanced resilience against the negative impacts of climate change in the community.

2nd Runner Up: Climate Emergency UK: Council Climate Action Scorecards (UK)

A first-of-its-kind citizen data project that evaluates local government progress towards net zero and identifies the gaps between ambition and actual climate action of all ~400 UK councils. The Scorecards solve the problems identified by uniting the local climate action movement, creating a one stop shop of data on all the actions councils can take and have taken – rather than the siloed, sector- specific data that currently exists. The Scorecards highlight the steps local government can take towards net zero: identifying and using current data sets available to support solutions; creating a data infrastructure that is usable for all; and helping local and national governments publish more open data.

We are incredibly excited to see such high-quality submissions and ideas from a wide-range of teams across geographies. We are working to collect our lessons learned from this project and have plans to share our findings more broadly. We look forward to the continued work of these teams in realizing the impact that open data can provide as a decision-making tool for local governments, and ultimately, on the health of our planet.