Government and Openness

Exploring how the open nature of the Internet can affect Government

Stream Leader: Laurence Millar


RAW DATA NOW was the rallying cry issued by Rufus Pollock from the Open Knowledge Foundation in November 2007. Sir Tim Berners-Lee picked up the call in his landmark TED talk from February 2009, and we can now see the beginning of a fundamental shift in the way governments around the world manage and release their data.Legislation in support of open government has been in place in New Zealand since the Official Information Act in 1982 but it is only recently that Open Data has become topical. Four factors have come into play at the same time, to create the conditions for Open Data.

  • Firstly, a realization that government gathers a huge amount of data on every aspect of life on earth, which is locked up in computers only accessible to an elite few.
  • Secondly, recognition that, by providing free public access to this data, governments can create value far in excess of the revenue that it might earn from selling the data. The ideas underpinning this new economics were outlined by Don Tapscott, and have been applied to government by Beth Noveck.
  • Thirdly, the ubiquitous Internet, providing connectivity from anywhere to anywhere, allows individuals across the world to build on each other’s work.
  • And finally, cloud-based computing tools deliver analytic and computational facilities to end-user analysts for free, with similar strength to those tools previously available only to researchers in corporations or academic institutions.

These factors also provide the foundation for other aspects of government and open-ness that will also be discussed during the workshop sessions.  These include freedom of information, open source, transparency, collaboration and participation in service design and policy making.


Open Government in 2020

Facilitator: Laurence Millar

In this session, we will develop ideas about the potential for open government in New Zealand in 2020. Brainstorming of the different aspects of government and open-ness will create a range of ideas for the scope of open government.  These will be clustered to build possible future scenarios, and highlight the areas where strategic choices will influence the direction of open government.

The scope of open government arising from this session will be the foundation for the discussions in the subsequent sessions in this workstream.

Open Government action plan – national and local government

Facilitator: Julian Carver

A video discussion (to be confirmed) with an international open government leader will kick off this session, highlighting the key features of open government internationally. Following the video, we will share information on examples of open government in NZ, and use this to generate ideas on what is needed to build Open Government momentum within and outside government. Dependent on participants, this session may be split into two groups – what is needed at the national level, and what is needed for local government.

Geospatial open data

Facilitator: Kevin Sweeney

Geo-coded data has been at the forefront of open government data because of the attractiveness to consumers and developers, the experience in the areas of emergency recovery internationally, as well as in the Christchurch earthquake, and the ease of use of map based tools.  During this session, we will discuss how to build support for the NZ geospatial strategy and a national Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), and highlight current and potential uses of open geospatial data.

Government procurement

Facilitator: Brett O’Riley

Government procurement is recognised as a major influence on the development of the IT industry, both within New Zealand and internationally.  The potential for government procurement to be more open, and to support a more open ecosystem, has been recognised in the recent UK ICT strategy (  This discussion will discuss ideas on how government can work with the industry and the community to achieve increased openness.

Open Government Data (including licencing)

Facilitator: Keitha Booth

In this session we will discuss two key aspects of open government data – what are the characteristics of open government data, and how can we overcome any barriers to successful implementation?

The discussion is expected to cover licensing. NZGOAL, Creative Commons, Data quality, security and integrity, Data pricing, and the classification of data open-ness (as proposed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee).

*          on the web, open licence
**        Machine-readable data
***      Non-proprietary format
****    RDF standards
*****  Linked data