Pobal are delighted to have won ‘Best use of Data Science in a Public Sector Body’ at the prestigious DatSci Awards 2018, Ireland’s national data science awards The award was given in recognition of Pobal’s work in using data to target capital funding for childcare services.

Pobal were shortlisted alongside the Central Bank of Ireland and Chorus Intelligence (data science consultants to the Gardaí) in this category and emerged as the winning entry at the awards ceremony in the Croke Park events centre on Friday 7th September.

The award was given in relation to the Pobal Geosparcity Index, a tool developed by Pobal to identify areas and communities most in need of capital investment for Childcare Services.

The ‘Geosparcity’ index categorises a childcare service or a geographical area in regard to the supply and demand for childcare. The index uses census data on the number of children within a set distance as a measure of demand and the number of registrations, within the same distance, as a measure of supply. By using advanced geographical analysis techniques, the team were able to determine whether an area is well catered for or if additional childcare places were needed.

Pobal CEO Denis Leamy said: “Data Science is playing an increasingly important role in decision making and planning the allocation of public sector services. It is a key tool in our work supporting communities and responding to local need.”

The work was led by Patrick Collins and Martin Quigley of the Pobal Monitoring, Analysis & Outcomes Unit.

Pobal Data Scientist Patrick Collins said: “I’m thrilled with this win. I’m so happy to see that simple data science models can have so much power and potential and get recognition at a national level.”

Martin Quiqley, Pobal Head of Monitoring and Analysis, said: “As a body with responsibility for the allocation of hundreds of millions of euros of state investment nationally, it is our responsibility to ensure we make decision using the best available evidence and data. This award recognises the investment Pobal has made in developing its data science skills in recent years, and reaffirms the importance of evidence and objective science in how the state funds its services.”