The NSW government is hoping university students can find ways to improve pedestrian safety and reduce insurance claims by inviting them to ‘hack’ its privately-held data sources this week.

A hackathon will run from September 9 to 11 with prize money and internships with the government’s Data Analytics Centre (DAC) on offer.

Partners of the event include the University of Sydney, PwC, Microsoft and Atlassian.

Pedestrian fatalities in the state continue to increase. The latest statistics from the government show a 23 percent rise in deaths for the first eight months of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015. In real numbers, 54 pedestrians have died this year.

Most fatal accidents for pedestrians occur in the peak periods in the morning and afternoon, although age and alcohol can also be factors.

The government hopes that data analysis may provide crucial leads on how to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities on the state’s roads.

Students that participate in the hackathon will have access to previously closed data sets held by the likes of the Centre for Road Safety at Transport for NSW, State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), and the NSW DAC.

They have been given a “priority question”: “What data can help to reduce pedestrian accidents leading to CTP claims, sever injury or death?”

“One of the fundamental design principles of the NSW Data Analytics Centre is that any problem can be better informed by data,” DAC CEO and chief data scientist Dr Ian Oppermann said.

“Understanding pedestrian safety through the lens of data is an innovative approach to tackling a real world problem.”

“This is a great initiative that will allow young people to harness the power of data to tackle a serious social challenge,” added NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Victor Dominello.

The government is hoping that students will uncover ways to better inform policy and action on pedestrian safety.

“Useful data-driven insights and solutions will be used in government reporting and strategies and will help the NSW government to improve life in Sydney,” it said.

“Each insight the participants discover is a piece of a puzzle.

“When we have enough pieces, we can see a bigger picture - what causes pedestrian accidents, and how pedestrian accidents affect society, the economy and our daily lives?

“This will contribute to lowering the number and severity of pedestrian accidents.”

The technology and consulting firms that have stumped up prize money, meanwhile, hope to be exposed to upcoming data science talent.