November 26, 2019

Combatting homelessness with data driven insight



People sleeping rough is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to homelessness. The number of homeless people is on the rise, as council budgets across the country are being squeezed meaning less support for people when they need it the most.

Earlier this month, Bristol Technology Festival saw problem solvers, innovators, designers and programmers gather to be part of developing innovative digital solutions to some of Bristol and Bath’s biggest social challenges. 

The purpose of the Data and Community Hackathon was to explore how we use data and data analytics to address some of our most intractable local challenges. The three topics this year included:

  • Homelessness: Exploring how we can use data to gain better insight in order to target services in a way that works for people who need them.
  • Housing: Investigating how data can be used to improve the quality of peoples housing and advance our understanding.
  • Digital divides: Digital engagement is critical today for accessing services to employability, but many are missing out. Exploring how data can be used to close the gap.

One of our Consultants, Luke Stonehouse, was part of the hackathon’s winning team, working alongside a PM from Valtech and a graphic design/data visualisation master’s student from UWE. The aim of their project was to ‘visualise homelessness’ in order to provide a deeper understanding for both the public and internal city council/charity stakeholders of where the issues in homelessness lie.

Harnessing data from both national government and local council sources, they created an interactive Power BI Dashboard to highlight the reality of the problems at hand, where solutions are already working and where further development is needed. Thanks to technologies like this, it is possible to target resources for the homeless more effectively, using predictive analytics to better assist those at risk of becoming homeless.

A huge well done to everyone who volunteered their time for such an important cause – and a shout out to Luke for also taking home the award for ‘Most engaged person’.

In 21st Century Britain everyone should have a place to live. Insights like these can change lives for the better, ensuring that everyone facing homelessness gets the help they need quickly.