For this year’s EU Datathon, the biggest number of proposals ever were submitted (121), and this despite a busy period for data hackers tackling issues arising from COVID-19.
Unlike other hackathons that often happen over a weekend, EU Datathon takes place over several months and has several stages. The first stage, which has just happened, is for participants to present a solid proposal for a data application. They had to address one of the challenges and use open data made available by the EU institutions, agencies and bodies.
Going higher, going wider
The number of project proposals received this year represents an increase of over 21% on last year’s total (99) and is a long way from the modest number of 34 received for the first datathon in 2017!
In addition, the EU Datathon brand has also travelled further around the globe, with proposals this year being registered (The team’s origin is based on the registration of the first team member, but teams can be multinational. Caution should therefore be exercised when referring to a team’s origin.) from 36 countries (compared with 25 last year).
Teams registered from Italy were the most numerous (15). They were followed by teams from Spain and Romania (13 each), Germany and the UK (10 each).
Of the four challenges this year, ‘A Europe fit for the digital age’ was the most selected by teams, attracting 52 proposals. It was followed by ‘A European Green Deal’ (30), ‘A new push for European democracy’ (21) and ‘An economy that works for people’ (18).
This year, EU Datathon is being organised in close collaboration with the Commission department responsible for EU policy on regions and cities (DG REGIO) who will make it a highlight at this year’s renowned European Week of the Regions and Cities.
‘Through EU Datathon, we are delighted to strengthen our partnership with the Publications Office of the European Union,’ says Marc Lemaître, Director-General of REGIO.
‘In cohesion policy we are committed to open data and promote our unique monitoring of EU investment under the tag of #ESIFopendata. But openness is not enough. It is essential that data is accessible, contextualised and challenged.
‘I look forward to seeing the efforts of the participating teams to exploit open data to help address pressing local, regional and European challenges.’
COVID-19 also a component
Proposals were also welcome for solutions to help tackle the many issues arising from COVID-19, as long as they addressed one of the four challenges. 17 teams addressed the crisis in their proposal.
Now the hard work begins
With the 121 applications now received, the preselection jury (experts from within the EU institutions and agencies) is now assessing the proposals to pre-select a list of finalists (12 teams in all).
Once pre-selected, these teams will be invited to develop their applications over 19 weeks. This long period leaves participants more time than last year to develop a fully-working app that could even be marketable when it is presented to the final jury.
Final public event in October
The pre-selected teams will then be invited to the European Week of Regions and Cities in October, in Brussels, to present their application over the 3-day event. The final applications within each challenge will then be evaluated on 15 October 2020 during the final EU Datathon event by one jury, composed of experts from within and outside the EU institutions and agencies. This will culminate in a prize-giving ceremony. Finally, a public choice award will give two finalists tickets for this year’s Web Summit.
The EU’s open data competition
Now in its fourth year, EU Datathon has grown in popularity, becoming a much anticipated event in the open data community. It is also of growing importance for the EU institutions, agencies and bodies themselves.
‘This annual event helps to promote and improve the open data made available by EU institutions, agencies and bodies,’ says Rudolf Strohmeier, Director-General of the Publications Office of the European Union. ‘It does this by bringing together apps developers and data managers in the EU institutions to exchange on the potential and limitations of the data made available.’
‘EU Datathon also stimulates innovative reuse of that data, through apps and visualisations, helping young startups and other initiatives gain visibility and further support for their ideas. This is all the more important now, when the EU needs to massively kick-start its economies, severely slowed down by the COVID-19 crisis. The competition also contributes to the Commission priority of making societies more digital, a priority made more urgent with the need for digital solutions to help tackle the virus and its ramifications.’