NSW turns tap on open data
Damon Rees: The Data Republic relationship will help drive new opportunities
The NSW government has overhauled its open data infrastructure with the imminent launch of a new data marketplace to be developed and managed on Data Republic’s Senate platform.
The state’s chief information and digital officer Damon Rees told InnovationAus.com that while the existing Open Data Portal had been “instrumental” in delivering on its early open data plans, the government hope the new marketplace would be simpler and attract new users and use-cases.
“With our renewed focus on digital transformation, access to data is increasingly critical. Data becomes information, information leads to insights, insights lead to innovation. Making data held by the NSW Government accessible opens a new door to innovation,” Mr Rees said.
“Within government, greater access to data allows for better informed decisions and improved policy making.”
To date, information from government that has been made publicly available includes Health Stats NSW, Sharing and Enabling Environmental Data (SEED), and the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation website. Mr Rees expects that more would be shared through the new platform.
The $4.39 million partnership with Data Republic was a win-win opportunity for both the government and the local innovators and startups.
“Partnering with a startup, Data Republic, to use their Senate platform will help us realise our vision and at the same time promote innovation within government and support the digital economy in NSW,” Mr Rees said.
“Data Republic’s Senate platform, incubated in the Stone & Chalk innovation hub, is being constantly enhanced and improved,” he said
“This means the NSW Government is ‘future-proofed’ by drawing on the insights and improvements that will be maintained by the platform owner, whilst still enabling us to drive change today.
As for how the government would determine what data would be made public, Mr Rees said agencies would decide on the suitability of the data based around existing legal, regulatory and policy frameworks.
In addressing how the data would be kept secure, Mr Rees said the Data Republic platform would securely verify the information through smart contracts, and the platform itself would be housed within the NSW government’s GovDC data centres.
The creation of the data marketplace was one of the key priorities the NSW government set out under its digital strategy announced by Finance minister Victor Dominello in May.
“For exactly that reason – a digital government needs data to deliver great outcomes for its citizens, and citizens need to trust the government with their data. Having robust security measures in place to protect privacy and keep data secure is essential,” Mr Rees said.
Other progress the government has made under its digital government strategy include being able identify a number of ‘challenges’, which Mr Rees said present opportunities for “collaboration with experts to workshop innovative solutions, which we are actively working towards”.
The challenges that have been identified include digitising key processes to improve how services are delivered, opening up government data for real-time viewing, improving internal process for consistency, and building digital capability across the public sector.
“We’ve removed legislative barriers preventing digital transformation and started developing implementation plans for digital transformation initiatives across government,” Mr Rees said.