The winners of the 2019 RSS Statistical Excellence Awards were announced yesterday (11 July 2019) at a ceremony hosted by our president, Deborah Ashby. The awards celebrate the most outstanding contributions to statistics and data over the past year.
Government statisticians competed for the Campion Award for Excellence in Official Statistics, whilst younger statisticians were also commended for their work, through the Award for Excellence in Early Career Writing.
Awarded in partnership with the UK Statistics Authority, with Civil Service World as the media partner, the winning and highly commended Campion entries were presented by UK Deputy National Statistician Iain Bell, as follows:
Winner: Health Analysis and Life Events Team, Office for National Statistics. The judging panel believe that ‘Deaths of homeless people in England and Wales: 2013 to 2017’ is a brilliant example of tackling an issue of grave social concern, and provides real evidence on the extent and characteristics of a serious issue. It was also recognised that the entry has received a wonderful citation from users and is a fantastic example of what can be done to make sense of available data by working with relevant organisations. This entry was nominated by The Guardian and CNN journalist, Patrick Greenfield.
1st Runner-up: Health Analysis Team, Office for National Statistics. The judging panel thought this team’s estimates of suicides among higher education students in England and Wales was an excellent example of demonstrating the strength of linkage between two complex data sources, of a user-led approach and tackling a sensitive topic. It has effectively informed actions and yields important new insights.
2nd Runner-up: Scottish Household Survey Team, Scottish Government. The judging panel commented that the Scottish Household Survey made great use of data comics to bring the findings to life in a very accessible way, delivering a better user-experience. It was also recognised as a notable example of addressing survey response decline by showing respondents how their information is used.
The Award for Excellence in Early Career Writing, awarded by Significance magazine and the RSS Young Statisticians Section, was presented by Significance editor Brian Tarran. The winning entry was announced as follows:
Winner: Liam Shaw (University of Oxford) and Luke Shaw (Office for National Statistics). The judges were bowled over by Shaw and Shaw’s article. It tells the story of the analysis by the actuary R.D. Clarke who studied the apparent clustering of V-1 missile strikes on London during World War Two. His findings showed the pattern of hits to be consistent with what would be expected if the V-1s fell randomly, following a Poisson distribution – rather than being precision-guided. The story then shifts to the modern day, to describe Shaw and Shaw’s attempt to repeat and extend Clarke’s analysis using current tools like Google Maps and bootstrap sampling.
The judges found the story to be gripping and well-told – at times almost like a mystery novel in its approach. It wraps a history lesson around an introduction to probability, while showcasing the tools available to the modern data scientist and data analyst. As an added bonus, the authors have made their Google Map bomb maps publicly accessible, so others can investigate and interrogate. Their article will be published in October’s issue of Significance.
NB: the above photo depicts winners of this year's Campion award.