Update: we’ve updated this post with more places to look. But this isn’t our most comprehensive list. Keep an eye on our 2016 data page for all of them as we keep updating!
As we head into the final few weeks before GovHack, it’s time to give some thought to any particular government datasets you might want to work with over the weekend.
Why now? Well, if the data you’re interested in isn’t publicly available, you can request it through an Official Information request. Organisations have up to 20 working days to let you know what their decision is, which is just in time for GovHack NZ :)
Checking if the data you want is available
There isn’t a single catalogue or repository for open data in NZ. There are, however, some great places to start looking:
- Koordinates (for geospatial data)
- Statistics New Zealand (also has some geospatial data not contained in Koordinates)
- your local Council’s website.
And, of course, there’s always Google to help you find data, too!
But what happens if the data you want isn’t available?
Making an OIA request
You can request the data under the Official Information Act (OIA) and Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA). These Acts state that:
“everyone in New Zealand has the right to access information held by public bodies. By law, they have to respond.”
There are numerous ways to make OIA requests, including directly to government agencies. We’ve found one of the simplest and easiest ways to do so is to use FYI.
Essentially, the site allows one to:
- see what data has been requested from various public bodies
- see what happened with those requests
- make a request of one’s own.
It publishes all requests openly and transparently, and their progress and resolution (where there’s been one). This is great because it means others can also benefit from your request – and that’s what open data is all about!
Of course, you may not be able to get the data you request. While public organisations are required to respond, they don’t necessarily have to give you the data if there’s a good reason not to.
Most requests are successful, though.
- Read more about OIA and LGOIMA
- Read the full Official Information Act
- Read the full Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act
We’re in the process of requesting councillor meeting attendance for GovHack locations for this latest 2013-2016 term. We think it could be really interesting for comparisons both within and between councils, and it’s definitely timely ahead of October’s local government elections.
Have we missed out any good open data sources/repositories/catalogues in NZ? Tell us in the comments below :)