News

IBM helps Calderdale get moving!

Calderdale Council

Global technology giant IBM and Calderdale Council are joining forces on a project which will use data to encourage more active, healthy and longer lives in the borough. 

IBM invited Calderdale Council to take part in a unique three week pilot research programme which will combine data from the Council; the NHS; Public Health England; Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group; Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust; Sports England and West Yorkshire Sport with their world class expertise in data analysis.   

Currently just over 30% of Calderdale adults are classed as inactive and more than 66% of adults are classed as overweight or obese.  Sadly nearly 35% of 10-11 year olds are now classed as overweight or obese.  And one in eight secondary school children don’t do any exercise, rising to one in five amongst 14-15 year old girls  

The pilot programme is designed to gain new insights into how to encourage local people to adopt a more active lifestyle, focusing on two main areas: 

-    increasing levels of physical activity in two areas of Halifax – North Halifax and Park ward – where currently fewer people take regular exercise than in other parts of Calderdale; 

-    encouraging local employees to be more active, including workers at the Council and at larger businesses across Calderdale. 

Six IBM experts will visit Calderdale to take part in the project including Senior IT Architect Dejan Redeka and Distinguished Engineer Steve Welch from IBM’s prestigious Watson team. 

During the project, the team will visit voluntary organisations, schools and residents to gain an insight into what prevents people from exercising and what could be done to improve levels of exercise. 

Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift said: 

“As a pilot programme we’re receiving three weeks of free intensive analysis and consultancy from some very senior experts in IBM, a household name with a global reputation. As a Council, our ambition is for Calderdale to become a centre for digital and technological innovation. This project gives us the chance to demonstrate whether access to the best advice and expertise in technology and modern data analytics can help make a real difference to how public services are delivered.   

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us, and our partners in sport and health, to get a better understanding of the reasons why people don’t, or can’t, do more exercise.  It might be down to a lack of childcare; time; cost or self-confidence, so the findings should tell us what we can do to help. 

 “Everyone knows that it’s better to take regular exercise.  There’s clear evidence that it reduces the chances of developing heart disease and dementia and also improves your mental health.  If we can understand more about who exercises and who doesn’t, and what actions we can take that will encourage more people to exercise, then we can use our spending much more effectively to help people become more active and drive down costs.”

 IBM has performed a variety of health-related pro bono consulting engagements around the world over the last several years.  These include a project in Birmingham, Alabama in the USA, to develop a strategy to improve preventative health and nutrition practices in areas of the city where fresh, healthy and affordable foods are scarce.  IBM helped formulate a plan for mobile food markets there. IBM also worked with Stavanger, Norway to make senior citizens there more independent and healthy. 

The IBM team will be in Calderdale from Monday 28 September 2015 – Friday 16 October 2015.  On Thursday 1 October 2015, the team will attend a hackathon at Wuthering Bytes in Hebden Bridge where they will challenge local software developers to create prototype apps which to help and encourage Calderdale residents to become more active.  The winning prototype will receive a prize of £2000.   

At the end of the three week programme they will produce a list of recommendations for the Council and its partners to implement.

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