How do we develop integrated solutions for environmental crises? Reflections from the last CIVICA Research Hackathon


The LSE Data Science Institute hosted a research hackathon in November 2022 that provided participants with the chance to explore the environmental crises of wildfires and drought in Europe. Professor Ken Benoit (LSE) explains what happened.

European societies are confronted by multiple crises. The manifestations of crises such as social inequalities, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, geo-political fragmentation or the continuing loss of nature may vary, but they are connected at the root: unsustainable development patterns.

Participants at the recent CIVICA Research Hackathon, organised and hosted by the LSE Data Science Institute (DSI) and Stockholm School of Economics as part of the CIVICA Research consortium got to grips with this question of sustainability across 22, 23 and 24 November 2022.

Having been granted access to cutting edge data sets and techniques, participants used skills and knowledge developed during the event to examine the environmental situation through the lens of societal transitions.

The LSE team that organised this event, led by DSI Affiliate Dr Thomas Smith (Department of Geography and Environment), met with representatives of partner institutions and members of the Societies in Transition, Crises of Earth theme to collaboratively define a topic that would suitably enable participants to share and develop their expertise.

Recognising the need for integrated solutions based on integrated diagnoses, the topic asked hackathon participants to select from two tasks; either the creation of an App Concept Design or an Infographic. In addition to being granted access to the exclusive data sets, participants also benefitted from expert presentations from Dr Thomas Smith, Dr Viktor Lagutov (CEU) and Ben Rich (BBC weather presenter, journalist and meteorologist), as well as round-the-clock support and guidance in the case of technical difficulties!

At the end of the three days, participants gathered online once more to present their outputs to an expert judging panel that I was delighted to be a part of. We were blown away by the standard of the work produced!

After much deliberation our prize winners were as follows:

Running Hot, Joint Winners

Firepower, Joint Winners

Heisenberg, Joint Winners

Special commendations were given to the following teams:

ENVSAVE, Special Commendation for Commitment to Hacking

Phoenix, Special Commendation for Original Concept

3 Union, Special Commendation for a functioning demonstration
The DSI would like to thank all those that participated in this event. Each of our teams acquitted themselves admirably and we look forward to welcoming you to the next of these research collaboration hackathon events. This will be announced in the coming months.

Recordings of the event can be found on the LSE Data Science Institute YouTube channel.

CIVICA Research brings together researchers from eight leading European universities in the social sciences to contribute knowledge and solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. The project aims to strengthen the research & innovation pillar of the European University alliance CIVICA. CIVICA Research is co-funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Written by Ken Benoit

Professor Ken Benoit is Director of the LSE Data Science Institute.