Hack for Impact: Yorkshire - our next hackathon

Measuring success (and failure) is a core process for most organisations, often focusing on monetary figures as a primary indicator of value. Profits, customers, shares, losses, capital assets. None of these tell us anything about an organisation's culture and resilience, or its impact on the wider world. Tangible measurements such as tonnes of carbon emitted or acres of new forest created take us part of the way there, but how do you measure the intangible things such as employee well-being, the mental health benefits of time spent in nature, or the societal effect of helping customers with debt? And if you do measure them, how do you compare their value with monetary assets?

This is exactly what Yorkshire Water wants to explore. Having already trialled other innovative approaches to accountability and assessment (they were early adopters of Environmental Profit and Loss accounting, and pilot-tested the draft Natural Capital Protocol in 2016), Yorkshire Water are deeply committed to developing techniques and methods that will improve monitoring, reporting, and managing their impact so that they contribute positively to nature and society, and increase the resilience of the essential services they provide. They have embraced open data and innovation, and have invited external influence into the problem-solving process through events like #WaterData18 , where participants could work with various Yorkshire Water datasets to explore issues such as leakage and raising awareness of water use for customers.

Also in May 2018, Yorkshire Water published a report that used a first iteration of their TIVA (Total Impact and Value Assessment) method that looks beyond just financial capital to include five other areas:

  • human capital (their workforce)
  • social capital (their relationships with customers and wider society)
  • manufactured capital (new infrastructure, repairs to pipes, etc)
  • natural capital (benefits to the environment)
  • intellectual capital (knowledge and processes)

Using all six capitals, TIVA gave Yorkshire Water a method of investigating and evaluating the true value of various aspects of their organisation and its wider impact: helping them to measure and value some of those intangibles, highlighting priority areas for improvement. Building on this work, Arup, Stantec and Yorkshire Water will be hosting a 2-day conference in Leeds in July called 'Growing Social Value Through the Six Capitals' that explores how and why businesses and other institutions across Yorkshire are leading the world in innovative ways to better support the communities they serve and the environment we all rely on.

Part of the driving force for the conference is to share the work already done with TIVA and the six capitals, and to encourage others to do the same. With enough participants and enough published data, could we see a Yorkshire-wide picture of impact and value?

Alongside the talks and panels throughout the conference, ODI Leeds will be working with Yorkshire Water to deliver an open hackathon that takes the six capitals beyond just one organisation. Using various sources of data, participants can experiment and develop prototypes or visualisations that capture the concept of the six capitals across the whole of Yorkshire. What are the data gaps? Who would find this the most useful? What are the challenges? Who needs to be involved? Is it even possible? We can have fun finding out!

So why does this matter? For Yorkshire Water, understanding the wider world that they sit in is fundamental to developing a sustainable future - for themselves and for others. If their data, techniques, methods, etc, can help others do the same, then everyone benefits. Using an open approach enhances this development by allowing people from diverse backgrounds to contribute their experiences and knowledge versus keeping everything internal, where only a single viewpoint reigns. Yorkshire Water have said they want to be 'open by default' by 2020, and have been the first company in Yorkshire to publish an ethnicity pay gap report. They lead the way in the hope that others will follow.

To get involved, you can sign up for the warm-up session and/or the hackathon, or you can check out the micro-site with loads of useful resources and links. As usual, we will keep adding more good stuff so check back throughout June and July for the agenda, data sources, and more.