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'DataJam's a community': Four perspectives on DataJam 2019

The lecture theatre at DataJam North East
DataJam North East 2019

DataJam North East took place last month in Newcastle. Now in its second year, it’s a hack, unconference and workshops rolled into one that aims to use data and design to help improve public services.

Four DWP colleagues who attended explain why they enjoyed being part of it.

‘There’s a lot of passion, enthusiasm and knowledge' - Calei Smith, Product Owner

“I wanted to come to DataJam this year because I’d heard about the buzz and excitement of last year’s event.

I’m a bit of a data nerd and I love how DataJam has people from a lot of different organisations in one place, looking at how to use data and service design to improve services for citizens.

There’s a lot of passion, enthusiasm and knowledge at DataJam. The fact that ideas are taken forward and implemented afterwards is really motivating.

In the unconference, I enjoyed finding out other people’s experiences of using data in their organisations. It was a great opportunity to hear how other people have approached a similar problem to the one my team is dealing with. It gave me some fresh perspective on things we might incorporate into our user research.”

‘It was good to use my skills’ - Caleb Olaleye, Service Analyst

“I got involved in every aspect of DataJam, I really enjoyed the experience.

The first day I was in the unconference. I spent most of the second day in the hack, working on a location mapping idea for skills for young people.

I have experience with Power BI and the team needed a Power BI developer, so it was good to use my skills and get involved.

Delegates collaborating at DataJam North East 2019
Caleb Olaleye (left) at DataJam 2019

Our team’s idea was a digital service giving young people more options about their career - a follow up from what was developed at last year’s event. The service designers and the data team worked together to make sure it’s right for the user. It was good to see our idea develop and we’re taking it forward.

Being part of the community at DataJam will hopefully spur me on with my passion for data.”

‘There’s lots of collaboration' - Stephen Mounsey, Delivery Manager

“I was part of the Hack team looking at the Environment problem and specifically air quality in Newcastle.

We had a really good data set and used it to look at ideas that might change people’s behaviour and out of their cars to take greener options. We came up with an idea for an app ‘Your Day in Data Quality’, looking at putting air quality data on Rightmove - a whole range of stuff looking at emissions to make air quality info visible and transparent.

There was lots of collaboration with people from varied backgrounds such as the Urban Observatory, UX designers and data scientists. It was really interesting for me to learn from what other people are doing with data and how I can apply that to my role back at DWP.”

Collaboration at DataJam 2019
Collaboration at DataJam 2019

‘DataJam is a community' - Ryan Dunn, Data Science Hub Lead, Newcastle & DataJam co-founder

“DataJam 2019 was amazing. We had the same energy as last year and a lot of organisations involved. People are already talking about doing it all again next year!

The unconferences brought together people to have healthy discussions on the problem statements we set. The feedback from the workshops has been great and the hack teams have worked hard to understand the problem and understand the users to come up with ideas we can build on afterwards.

DataJam is a community, not just an event. It fills a void, and it’s great to hear product and service people collaborate on data and design.

It’s all about outcomes and we already have conversations lined up with schools in the region to take forward ideas from the hack. Like last year, we’ll be able to take forward the connections, the conversations and the micro actions, and build on them.”

Watch a video of this year's event above.

To keep up to date with progress from DataJam 2019 or to get involved next year, follow @datajamne


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