World Data League


Currently, data is generated in abundant amounts, to such an extent that it is hard for a human on his own to make sense of it all. Corporations that know how to use such data have significant leverage and advantage. However, many sectors are still falling behind in knowledge and know-how. The World Data League (WDL) is a data competition that aims to help close this gap with organisations working on socially-oriented challenges.

According to the United Nations (UN), 68% of the world population will live in urban areas by 2050. With ever-growing cities, new challenges arise associated with population growth - but also a lot of interesting potential solutions. A data-driven approach can develop those solutions with the rise of smart city technologies, sensors, and open data initiatives.

That is why, for the 2021 edition, WDL joined in helping to achieve the 11th UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) - Sustainable Cities and Communities. All of the challenges and datasets were provided by cities or entities that work towards creating Data-Driven Cities (research institutes, startups, and companies).

The competition went on for four stages and one Final, and five different topics: Public Transport, Traffic, Cycling in Cities, Environment and Noise.



Here are some numbers about WDL first edition:

  • 300 applications
  • 186 participants
  • 34 countries
  • 14 challenges
  • Over 75 technical reports






For more than two months, the teams presented solutions for challenges like "Identifying road segments with potential safety hazards" and "Strategies to reduce the environmental and health impacts of pollution".

Competition outcomes: Map of Porto that represents the connectivity between different nodes in the city by Old Waruses

The Urban Co-Creation Data Lab provided two of the challenges of Stage 2: "Identification of patterns and prediction of irregular parking" and "Patterns and predictive modelling of traffic accidents". Together, these challenges originated nine technical reports with possible solutions.

The top ten teams were granted access to the WDL Finals, where they worked for around 60 hours on "Improving the quality of life by reducing city noise levels", a challenge provided by the City of Turin (Italy). The Final Jury, composed of specialists on the topic, heard the best three submissions and declared Data Sloths, an international team, the winner of this first edition. Second and third places went to two Portuguese teams: Tech Moguls and Children of Jupyter.

Winners announcement by the Final Jury






All the solutions presented during the World Data League are open source and published for public access and use under an MIT license. A white paper with all the insights and knowledge acquired during the League is also being written.

Ripply Report, Summary of WDL 2021: UCB Lab project
WDL Report, Summary of WDL 2021: UCD Lab project promotion

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