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Data Study Groups

Unlocking Solutions Together: Discover the Power of Data Study Groups

In 2023 the Defence Data Research Centre began running Data Study Groups (DSGs) in collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute. Our transdisciplinary DSGs assemble the nation’s foremost talent in data science, artificial intelligence, social science and other fields. Together, we analyse real-world data science challenges, harnessing collective expertise to drive innovative solutions.

Introducing the Upcoming 2024 Challenge

Taking place Monday 8th – Friday 12th July. 

Machine learning (ML) has opened a vast new world of opportunity in the military domain. One area particularly impacted by this is the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) domain. Whether it is training to classify terrain or detect platforms from imagery, the use of machine learning can both increase the speed of processing of information and allow it to occur more autonomously.

However, ML models, both inside and outside the ISR domain, require a significant amount of data for training and validation. Often these data may not be readily available, limited in size or diversity, or simply not feasible to collect for the domain of use. Synthetic data presents a tool to facilitate the training of ML models in this scenario of limited real data. Despite this opportunity, the contextual strengths and weaknesses of synthetic data are not yet fully understood. Understanding the impact that training ML models on synthetic data, both in terms of performance and robustness, is vital to ensure safe and reliable models are deployed.


The data study group will work with a large dataset of imagery taken from the air.  The overall machine learning task is to detect particular objects of interest, such as vehicles.   However, labelled instances of the objects are rare.  In this context the data study group will focus on how synthetic data can aid the detection. 

The areas of exploration for this data set are twofold:

Challenge One: Synthetic Data Generation

Challenge Two: Synthetic Data Validation

Applications are now closed. 

Data Study Groups are intensive collaborative sprints that bring together organisations from industry, government, and the third sector with talented multi-disciplinary researchers from academia, government and industry. These events aim to tackle real-world data science challenges presented by “Challenge Owners,” allowing researchers to brainstorm and engineer data science solutions.

  • Challenge Owners have the opportunity to swiftly prototype potential solutions to their scientific challenges by employing an agile sprint approach alongside leading academic, research, and industry talent.
  • Researchers get an opportunity to put knowledge into practice and go beyond individual fields of research to solve real-world problems.
  • These initiatives foster collaborations for the Centre by generating ideas that can develop into larger collaborative relationships and research projects.

Commission your own DSG

Propose your data challenge to us. Collaborate with experts, innovate, and find practical solutions.

Enquiry Form
Data Study Group: A Researcher’s Perspective

A captivating narrative on the impactful outcomes of collaborative data exploration

This image shows a group photo of cheery- looking participants
Defence Data Research Centre (DDRC) holds inaugural Data Study Group

A Fusion of Global Minds Tackling Real-World Challenges

Want to find out more? Just get in touch!