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Blog - Data Diving with Yorkshire Water! #waterdata15

Here we have a short blog to give everyone a flavour of what happened at the fantastic Data Dive with Yorkshire Water on July 10-11. We'll be putting up a second blog from fellow ODI Leeds Associate Thomas Forth over the next few days with details on the teams and the prototypes that were created.

We hosted and delivered the eagerly anticipated Data Dive with Yorkshire Water at ODI Leeds. Spread over Friday 10th and Saturday 11th of July, the aim of the event was to use newly-released open data from Yorkshire Water to build a prototype that helps to reduce domestic water consumption. With a target of 5 litres per person per day by 2020, the Data Dive aimed to approach a complex issue by co-creating and innovating and creative solutions — easy to say but the results really spoke for themselves..

Paul Connell of ODI Leeds kicking of proceedings

ODI Leeds conducted data cleaning & formatting and exploration in the weeks leading up to the event. We and our extended network managed to spot a couple of errors in the open data — incorrect postcodes that corresponded to commercial readings and several outliers, which were removed prior to the event. All were uploaded onto Leeds Data Mill and a public dropbox folder, where participants could access Yorkshire Water data as well as open data from other relevant sources including: the Met Office, DEFRA, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. These open datasets spanned rainfall patterns to water quality incidents and drinking water inspectorate reports.

Friday, July 10

Data Divers

The first day was designed to be a warm-up session; Data Divers were introduced to the open data and how the event would unfold. After kicking off with some introductions from Yorkshire Water, ODI Leeds and Leeds Data Mill, teams quickly began to form and the seeds of prototypes began to develop. Some groups like BJSS, Hebe Works and Bradford University had formed in advance while others joined groups based on their interests and skills. Nine teams formed around six themes, as Thomas Forth reveals here.

We had two teams from Bloom Agency & Hebe Works working on their prototypes remotely. Unable to take part on the day, their ideas were presented to Yorkshire Water in advance.

As the first day drew to a close most people were keen to stay and continue working on their ideas at ODI Leeds, which was is what our innovation space is exactly designed for. Some great ideas for prototypes were already beginning to form, ready for the full-on session on Saturday.

That evening divers headed to The Wardrobe for drinks and to discuss open data, most likely. All in all, over 50 people turned up each day and we had seven teams, which is testament to the open innovation and open data community that we are lucky to be part of and supporting. Was it one of the largest of its kind in the country, well we'd need the data on that, but it certainly was a great event.

For those of you who are looking for the open data that was available and some of the team projects, the dropbox link can be found here.

Teams & Prototypes

Saturday, July 11

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Data divers arrived early and quickly began working on their prototypes.

Teams were reminded that the end result is a working prototype, not a presentation, although communicating the concept is still important. This video for GovJam, an event that was also hosted at ODI Leeds a few weeks prior to the Data Dive, explains how to go about prototyping.

Along the lines of water consumption, teams began prototyping android apps, maps, customer-focused games and algorithmic models.

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Some ideas revolved around gleaning key insights from the large datasets and creating stories to communicate them; others used models to dive deep into the granular aspects of the data. One team worked on creating an incentive-based game for customers to track their use in an engaging way. More information about projects will be revealed in an upcoming blog post.

As Saturday's Data Dive with Yorkshire Water entered into its final stages teams began to finalise their prototypes before giving a demonstration of a working prototype to judges from Yorkshire Water and ODI Leeds.

Each idea was unique in how it approached water saving through the use of open data, demonstrating the creativity with which participants approached a complex issue. The event has been a stream (please excuse the pun) of ideas, insights, technical prowess and open data goodness.

At 4pm the judges took some time to deliberate before praising each team for their efforts and handing out prizes. In the coming week we'll find out more about those prototypes that have been included in the Yorkshire Water innovation programme.

ODI Leeds would like to thank Yorkshire Water and everyone who took part for giving up their Saturdays to do something quite special. It was a pleasure to organise such a highly popular and successful event, one that made the preparation worthwhile for everyone involved. We hope that the success of the Data Dive will inspire more people to see the value of open data and help foster a culture of openness among companies nationwide.


If you'd like to host an event at ODI Leeds or make use of our open, collaborative space then please get in touch or if you'd be interested in becoming an individual member then please visit our Join Us page.

Liam Bolton

ODI Leeds