Vision Zero Innovation Lab

On April 27th Student Data Labs ran a Vision Zero Innovation Lab as part of the Leeds Digital Festival. We’re very proud to have joined an incredible line-up of speakers events that demonstrates the strength of the digital sector in Leeds.

Held at the pioneering Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, the aim of the Vision Zero Innovation Lab was to explore how to reduce the number of road fatalities to zero in the city. If you’re interested in finding out more, code, data, projects and other learning resources can be found on our new Github page. Similarly to the Health Innovation Lab in February, the event was split between a Learning Lab and an Innovation Lab. From the outset, Data Lab Volunteers were given the chance choose to either learn about practical data science skills in the Learning Lab or join the Innovation Lab.

The Problem

The Vision Zero Innovation Lab brought Vision Zero, an initiative pioneered in Sweden, to Leeds with a distinct emphasis on the role data science is playing in transport.

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The first order of the Labs was to contextualise the problem. There are a few takeaways to bear in mind about road traffic casualties in Leeds – one is that the city is poorly designed for both pedestrians and cyclists. Between 2009 and 2014 pedestrians comprised approximately 33% of road deaths in Leeds, a figure that stands 10% higher than the national average. In addition, the number of cycling crashes in the city is rising. One focus of the Lab, therefore, was how can we make the city safer for pedestrians and cyclists?

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Learning Lab

The Learning Lab aimed to get volunteers up and running with practical data projects. The majority of tutorials involved R, a statistical programming language popular with data scientists and data-driven organisations. From sourcing open data to exploration, modelling, and visualisation, each tutorial looked at different parts of the data science process. By the end of the session, our Data Lab Volunteers were mapping road casualties and discovering insights about the nature of road casualties in Leeds. All learning resources as well as a handful of projects and maps can be found on the Vision Zero Innovation Lab Github page.

Innovation Lab

About two hours into the Vision Zero Lab, the two sessions merged to form a joint Innovation Lab, where our volunteers were able to exchange and develop new ideas and tools. Our aim throughout the events are to foster collaboration across disciplines. Students from a wide variety of backgrounds were encouraged to engage in what’s called ‘open innovation’ alongside teams from Leeds City Council, Sky and researchers from the University of Leeds, the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics and the CDRC.

Looking to the Future

One of our main goals is to continue bringing the principles of Vision Zero to Leeds. A number of exciting long-term projects have been developed through the Vision Zero Innovation Lab. Two of our projects, for instance, involve deriving key insights on pedestrian and cycling crashes across the city using open data. There are also plans to hold a follow-up Vision Zero Lab later in the year.

Stay tuned for more updates as we work with dedicated students and stakeholders to try and reduce the number of road deaths in Leeds and create social impact through our civic data projects!