Obesity data challenge calls innovators to bid for new £30k prize

A £30,000 international challenge prize – the first of its kind – is up for grabs to innovators or organisations who can publish or present data on obesity in a new, exciting and useful way.

The challenge, to promote innovation in open data, is being carried out in both England and the US and will either help create an innovative tool by ‘mashing up’ existing data or will help publish data collected but not publicly available.

The ‘mash-up’ bids could help create a ‘visualisation’ such as an app or interesting set of graphics which helps patients make healthier choices.

Or by publishing existing previously unpublished data this would help commissioners of services understand more on the habits of the population and could help inform the public.

Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s Director for Patients and Information, said: “We know there is extremely fruitful data out there that we don’t have access to and we want to encourage the people with that data to come forward and share their knowledge.

“We want the innovators and the big organisations or companies to apply – that could be app developers, local councils or anyone who holds interesting data on obesity. Come forward and be part illustrating how data can shape care and health.”

The US Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with NHS England and will carry out the same challenge in the States. Acting Deputy Secretary of HHS, Mary Wakefield, said “The Obesity Data Challenge represents a true milestone in our collaboration with England. Though our health care systems are separate and different, there are opportunities in our health data ecosystems to build solutions and tools that bring together providers and consumers to meaningfully address the obesity in both countries.”

Obesity is a common problem for both nations with two thirds of US adults and 64 percent of UK adults overweight or obese.

The NHS needs public health and community data in order to help patients to, for example, know where the nearest gym is, where exercise or cooking classes happen or where their local swimming pool is.

Data can help: articulate the extent of the problem; enable healthcare providers to better treat their patients; and empower patients to find solutions available to them.

It must help add to one of the following: understanding the problem; treating patients; empowering patients.

Read more about NHS England’s commitment to act on open data, further information about the obesity data challenge and details of how to apply.

The closing date for entries is 31 July 2015.