(Judges and Attendees including (Team Onion) Dr Will Usher, Dr Simon Blainey, Samuel Chorlton, Tom Gowland, James Hannah and Dr Modassar Chaudry)
Three members of STFC’s DAFNI development team journeyed to London on 12th February to take part in the two-day ‘Know Your Infrastructure Neighbours Hackathon’ hosted by the Infrastructure Projects Authority (IPA) and Geospatial Commission. They joined forces with academics from Southampton, Oxford and Cardiff universities to take on 11 other teams from different infrastructure organisations from around the UK, including The Environment Agency, Anglian Water, EDF Energy, Ordnance Survey and Network Rail.
The main purpose of the event was to bring together geospatial data scientists from infrastructure organisations and academia, not only to share data and ideas from their respective fields, but also to facilitate cross-sector collaboration essential for a more robust infrastructure network nationwide. Simon Lawrence, Programme Director, Major Infrastructure Tracking, IPA said “I would like to congratulate the team from DAFNI on their innovative ‘Onion Project’. We are hoping that this hackathon will be the start of lasting relationships across various organisations that can support each other to deliver better infrastructure solutions.”
The teams competed against one another using hypothetical scenarios to create models that would predict the impacts two new building settlements would have on the surrounding infrastructure. In a race against the clock, they had to consider many different constraints and dependencies on the surrounding environment, including commuter connectivity and capacity of the current transport network; flood zones and risk; and environmental constraints of the surrounding area.
DAFNI team members were able to showcase their individual skills alongside their university collaborators, each developing different aspects of their team’s application to produce the ‘Onion’ (Observation of National Infrastructure Operation and Networks) assessment tool; so called due to the layers used in map based visualisations. The tool enabled a variety of mathematical assessments to be made based on the placement of a new settlement. This included features such as suitability for electric vehicles, solar power potential, and transport connectivity. Tom Gowland, of STFC’s DAFNI development team said “I was really pleased with how well we worked as a team and I think that we accomplished a great deal in two days. Winning the hackathon was another obvious highlight and receiving feedback from the judges which reaffirmed our confidence in our system and also in the team behind DAFNI.”
(A video of the ‘ONION’ geospatial tool developed by the winning team and shows the impact of hypothetical settlement creation.)
Following the judges’ review, members of the winning team were awarded a Google Home Hub each for their efforts. Samuel Chorlton, STFC’s DAFNI Project Lead said that being “…able to combine expertise from both software engineering and modelling specialisms demonstrates the benefits that enabling the modelling community will have.”
This hackathon has paved the way for future events which will see teams being made up of experts from a variety of backgrounds, as the organisers have concluded that this will truly augment integration and collaboration between the different sectors. Samuel Chorlton went on to add “This demonstration of the need for future collaboration between disciplines highlights the necessity and utility of the DAFNI platform; and we are excited to introduce it into the world of infrastructure research and planning later this year.”