London, 24 March 2023 – Today, the Civil Service Data Challenge announced the winner for the Civil Service Data Challenge 2023, the second time that the Civil Service has held the competition. The winning proposal will see the Civil Service look to implement Project Heyrick – a new data-driven approach to combat modern slavery.
Following an extensive selection process, four teams pitched their ideas on how to improve the use of data within the Civil Service to a panel of judges in a “Dragon’s Den” style final event at County Hall Westminster on 23rd March. Project Heyrick narrowly beat the other final proposals, which included the use digital environments to experiment with policymaking, connecting datasets across government to improve levels of compliance for child maintenance payments, and the implementation of AI and automation to improve digital mail services across HMRC. As winners, Project Heyrick will receive funding, technical advice and development support from NTT DATA UK&I, and the backing of top Civil Servants to now bring the idea to life.
Much like its 19th century namesake, Elizabeth Heyrick, Project Heyrick aims to change how the UK detects invisible crime like modern slavery using a data-driven approach. In many cases, victims of modern slavery often do not even realise that they are slaves, so thousands of slaves go undetected every year, but Project Heyrick can assist by collecting data from across government and from open-source data sets. By combining these data sets with advanced analytics, the solution can shed a light on undetected victims and provide proactive intervention targets. Enforcement departments, such as Policing, the Home Office, or the National Crime Agency, can then use this information to more effectively identify potential cases of modern slavery and intervene without the victim needing to present themselves.
Vicki Chauhan, Head of Public Sector at NTT DATA UK&I, commented: “The Civil Service Data Challenge has achieved some remarkable things to date – tapping into the unrealised potential of the civil service workforce, providing a channel for good ideas to receive the attention and development they deserve. As with last year’s event, deciding a winner for this second year of the Civil Service Data Challenge has been incredibly difficult; all the pitches were really strong. However, alongside my fellow judges, I am very much looking forward to working closely with Project Heyrick to develop the idea and turn it into reality.”
Run by NTT DATA UK&I, the Cabinet Office, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Global Government Forum, the Civil Service Data Challenge is designed to tap into the expertise and enthusiasm of civil servants – uncovering great ideas for making better use of data and putting the best idea on a path to implementation. Welcoming entries from civil servants in every grade, role and organisation, the 2023 Challenge gathered in nearly 200 ideas and teams of civil service volunteers were built around them, each equipped with the required mix of skills, connections and policy expertise.
The Champion for this year’s Data Challenge is Alex Chisholm, Chief Operating Officer, Civil Service and Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, who commented: “All the finalists showed fantastic teamwork, and we were particularly impressed with the winner as they had to form a cross-government collation of people. Moreover, it is using data in order to be able target a very hard to find community of people.
“Today is another powerful reminder that there is a lot of innovation across the Civil Service – we had 119 ideas put forward and all of them involving teamwork. Multi-disciplinary teams bring together customer insights from policy, operational responsibilities, technologists, and data professionals. Data has been able to link all those individuals together; and this competition has been instrumental in turning theory to reality and making the ideas ready for deployment.”
Cabinet Office Minister Alex Burghart MP said: “The importance of data in delivering a digitally transformed government and improving people's lives cannot be understated. This exciting project, which is creating a data dashboard to help identify and tackle modern slavery, shows the Civil Service at its very best and I'm looking forward to seeing how the project develops.
“Despite this being only the second year of the Data Challenge, we are already seeing tangible benefits delivered to the public. The government will continue to use its ideas to drive efficiency, improve public services and help tackle some of the most pressing challenges in our society.”
Find out more about the Civil Service Data Challenge and the winning proposal.