First 500: Lucinda uses big data to create more inclusive cities

This month Westpac Scholars Trust celebrates its first 500 Westpac Scholars, looking at the journeys and achievements of these individuals and how their Westpac Scholarships have helped them along the way.

We caught up with a few, including Lucinda Hartley co-founder of Neighbourlytics.

1. Tell us about your journey since receiving your Westpac Social Change Fellowship in 2018, what are you most proud of?

The fellowship offered a major kickstart to helping me to make a big transition from working in community development to working in tech. I've always been passionate about improving the quality of life in cities worldwide, but I'd only ever done that through hands-on projects like building houses and public spaces. At the time of applying for the Westpac Social Change Fellowship we were launching our new venture, Neighbourlytics, a social analytics platform which harnesses rich digital data to measure the urban life and wellbeing of neighbourhoods.

Since the fellowship we've created data for more than 2000 neighbourhoods in 12 countries, grown our team from 4 to 15 and raised close to $2.3 Million in investment capital. In many ways Covid, while massively disruptive, has created new opportunities we never could have foreseen. Our lifestyle has been turned upside down so suddenly people care about neighbourhoods in new ways, and we need new dynamic data to understand them. We're helping cities understand what the impact has been on issues like local businesses and social connection, so that we can all plan recovery in an informed way that leads to better outcomes for people.

2. What impact did the Fellowship have on your success?

As a non-technical co-founder, I was an expert in the problem we were trying to solve - creating better cities for people - but didn't have the practical knowledge to run a start-up, nor the networks with clients and partners needed. Through the fellowship I was able to gain critical education - like taking a course on Social Data Analytics from the world's leading experts in the field at MIT, building practical skills in innovation and problem solving through the Exponential Innovation program at Singularity University (which is based at NASA, also pretty great) and traveling to 12 cities and meeting with 70+ organisations to learn about their approaches to data and impact measurement. The ongoing highlight however has been the relationship with Fellows who offer regular support, inspiration and fuel for the journey.

To learn more about our first 500 Westpac Scholars follow @WestpacScholars on Instagram as we showcase W100 alumni throughout August.

Applications for 2022 scholarships are now open. To find out more visit the Westpac Scholars Trust website.