Thursday, 5 May 2016

Pro Bono and Software

Guest blog from Jon Tecwyn, Department of Energy and Climate Change

I have recently joined the steering committee for the Pro Bono O.R. scheme – a project which partners O.R. analysts with third sector organisations to provide free consultancy for a range of operational improvements and strategic planning projects. Projects generated so far have ranged from dog modelling to simulating shift patterns, measuring impact to supporter donation process mapping.

A variety of analytical and modelling techniques have been used so far, including:
·       discrete event simulation,
·       statistical analysis/data mining,
·       forecasting,
·       process modelling,
·       system dynamics.

My first suggestion as part of the committee was that we should provide O.R. analysts partaking in projects with an evolving list of software / tools which may help to solve different types of problem. These tools could be useful not only for those working on our 3rd sector projects but OR Society members looking to develop their all-round “O.R. toolkit”.

The list so far includes 14 tools across a range of areas:
·       Statistical analysis (e.g. PSPP, R)
·       Data visualisation (e.g. Vizable)
·       Programming languages (e.g. Python, Ruby)
·       Databases (e.g. PostGres, PostGIS)
·       Simulation (SimPy)
·       Mapping software (e.g. MapsData)

 MapsData: Mapping car crashes in the UK

The list is ever-evolving and we would welcome further contributions or to hear about any tools or software you have successfully used in the past. Ideally the software should be free to use. The list can be accessed here 
Please email any suggestions to

If you want to find out more about volunteering for a project more information on the scheme is available here: