Data about street crime, air quality, energy consumption and road accidents will be analysed and reshaped into new tools aimed at improving quality of life and public services during the Greater Manchester Data Dive on Tuesday.
Run by the University of Manchester, the open data competition, or hackathon, brings together 40 data scientists and programmers to find the best uses of data provided to them by Defra, Manchester City Council, Health & Social Care Information Centre, Office for National Statistics and others.
The emerging open data and big data movements encourage governments and other public authorities to share information with computer experts to find solutions to social problems, through mobile apps or new software to create better places to live and work.
The event is part of the University of Manchester's new Big Data Community programme. A spokesman for the university said: "Over recent years the ways in which we produce data, the quantities which can be stored or analysed, and the volumes created, have grown at an astounding rate. The rapid expansion of computing power, and technological advances with smartphones and mobile connectivity mean that populations internationally now create data in so many ways, simply by going about their everyday lives. In fact, every two days we now produce the same amount of data as was created from the dawn of civilisation to 2003.
"'Big Data' doesn't necessarily need to be large in scale; equally exciting is the variety of data increasingly possible to analyse. Novel ways of linking data sets, and mining unstructured data are facilitating an increasingly rich tapestry of research potential, with Big Data now a common theme underpinning many of the proposed solutions to challenges in sectors ranging from healthcare and transport to business and government."
At today's contest, mentors are on hand to help the programmers and relevant stakeholders offer real-world knowledge. At the end of the day, a panel of judges will pick the best insights and uses of data in four categories: energy, environment, health and wellbeing, and Twitter data. The judges are Prof Andy Brass, professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Manchester, Dr Andy Judson, director of data science at analytics provider Aridhia, and Steve Judson Turner, head of future cities at Manchester City Council.
Greater Manchester Data Dive is taking place at The Landing in Media City UK.
Follow the event on Twitter using #GMDataDive