The Department of Internal Affairs has concluded its analysis of blockages and impediments to the use of data in government and identified priority investment opportunities.
The two-year, cross agency study identified a large number of potential investment opportunities across six "pillar" areas and went on to refine this to 90 opportunities that were then scored against evaluation criteria.
Some themes emerged through that process. Opportunities in the "economy" pillar tended to be of lower priority because economic data assets were generally the most well developed already.
The least developed economic data assets, however, tended to be those relating to household economic wellbeing, which were also markers of social wellbeing.
"Many opportunities in the economy and society pillars have a focus on supporting populations of interest, including those of high priority," DIA reported last month. "Opportunities in the populations of interest pillar are more cross-cutting in nature."
Opportunities in the environment pillar also tended to be of higher priority, reflecting the relative weaknesses of data available already.
Five opportunities in the top thirty were identified as enabling iwi-māori data needs and aspirations, including the ability to more accurately and frequently measure populations and consistent measurement of ethnicity across government, both in the society pillar.
"Data integration assets tend to be of high priority because better managing and integrating existing data assets tends to realise benefits faster than investment in new datasets," the study found.
The highest priority opportunities identified included further investment in Stats NZ's integrated data infrastructure (IDI).
"Data on housing affordability and homelessness has been produced using the IDI, but further work is required to develop robust measures," the report found. "In particular, data is needed for populations of interest, which requires additional integrations to measure at the appropriate level of aggregation."
Further investment by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development would enable housing affordability and homelessness to be calculated more quickly, on a more granular level and with focus on populations of interest, it was claimed.
Stats NZ, the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, meanwhile, had an opportunity to invest in in improved understanding of households experiencing material hardship and/or poverty. This was essential for monitoring the Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018 as well as evaluating the effectiveness of interventions.
A longitudinal survey of income and housing begins to collect data in the current financial year with the first results of persistent child poverty to become available from 2024. However, more granular data was needed to identify and monitor sub-groups experiencing material hardship or poverty.
"If the data better identify households and living arrangements such as whānau as an economic unit, a more nuanced understanding of child poverty can be achieved," the report found.
Additional data on energy hardship, for example, could enable the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment to deliver better policy and regulation in the energy sector.
In the environment pillar, there was an opportunity to deliver nationally consistent measurement of land use over time at the parcel level.
The current land cover database maintained by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and funded by MBIE, was a nationally comprehensive land use map of New Zealand. However, there was an opportunity to better understand land, its profile, and its use to more clearly define New Zealand's greenhouse gas profile, water pollution, the impact of removing vegetation and our natural disaster risk profile.