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Booz Allen’s Data Science Bowl unites data scientists, organizations, industry experts, and citizens to design revolutionary solutions to global problems.
We wanted to harness the power of the data science community to bring together the best and brightest in the field to solve a seemingly impossible societal challenge, something bigger than what could be achieved solo. It gives these analysts “the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than themselves,” says Booz Allen Senior Vice President Josh Sullivan.
Thousands of participants devote significant time and skill to discover solutions that push the boundaries of what’s possible. In the first two years alone we’ve facilitated the donation of an estimated 180,000 hours of support against some of society’s most complex, challenging problems. Extensive outreach, partnerships, engagement, and media coverage bring a global audience to these challenges, giving a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.
Booz Allen data scientists work with partners, clients, and individuals to tackle a challenge using advanced analytics techniques, including cutting edge deep learning and AI. We look at these challenges differently from previous attempts and address issues like inaccessible, inaccurate, or “noisy” data.
We then work with a targeted and closed group of partners to identify data sets that have never been available for public use and determine if we can make them public—important to maintaining a fair and intriguing competition. Scoping the challenge and prepping the data appropriately are critical to enable real solutions that can scale for an industry.
The idea of tapping into the growing data science community also appealed to the people at Kaggle, the world’s largest online global data science community with over 760,000 members. Together, Booz Allen and Kaggle brought the first Data Science Bowl to life in 2014. From there, the concept grew and is now in its third year.
This global online competition brings together all backgrounds and skill levels in a simultaneously supportive and competitive environment. Tutorials help everyone start out on equal footing, and we work closely with Kaggle to support the participants and build awareness for the social problem being tackled. Engagement planning and sponsorships are key to boosting visibility for the Data Science Bowl. The additional awareness and interest helps to ensure that the competition outcomes far outlast the Data Science Bowl and actually help improve our society.
Participants work hard on these challenges. For example, it can take hours to run and test their algorithms on the data sets within their environments. We are always seeking sponsors to provide technology and tools to help accelerate their findings and increase participant engagement and enjoyment.
“Booz Allen’s Data Science Bowl unites data scientists, organizations, industry experts, and citizens to design revolutionary solutions to global problems.”
In 2014, we worked with Oregon State to unleash data science on the world of marine biology for the first time. Participants examined more than 100,000 underwater images to assess ocean health at a massive speed and scale. The winning solution produced an algorithm that reduced time of data analysis by 50 percent and boasted a 10 percent increase in accuracy.
In 2015, the Data Science Bowl tackled cardiovascular diseases, which cause 30 percent of all deaths in the U.S.—more than all forms of cancer combined. The challenge was to develop an algorithm of key heart disease indicators by evaluating thousands of MRI scans. The National Institutes of Health is now sharing the approach with members of the medical community in hopes of changing the way doctors analyze these images, saving 20 minutes per image scan for cardiologists.
Solutions uncovered during the Data Science Bowl will have a “lasting impact for our environment and food supply chain,” says Roman Salasznyk of Booz Allen Hamilton.
This year, competitors are using machine intelligence to fight lung cancer, which strikes 225,000 people in the U.S. every year and accounts for $12 billion in healthcare costs. Early detection is critical to give patients the best chance at recovery and survival.
Using a data set of thousands of high-resolution lung scans provided by the National Cancer Institute, the 2017 Data Science Bowl participants will develop algorithms that accurately determine when lesions in the lungs are cancerous. This will dramatically reduce the false-positive rate that plagues the current detection technology, get patients earlier access to life-saving interventions, and give radiologists more time to spend with their patients.
The Data Science Bowl is a place where data science experts and novices alike can learn, expand their skill sets, and change the world as we know it. At Booz Allen, we want to advance the art of data science by showing that the most pressing problems can be met by smart solutions when the right tools are implemented. In the coming years, sectors such as energy, defense, or finance may see their largest struggles deconstructed as part of a Data Science Bowl competition. We’ll continue leading the charge.
Click here to learn more about the Data Science Bowl or contribute your ideas for the next challenge we tackle.