[open-government] New Zealand's Open Government Data and Information Charter

Julian Carver julian.carver at seradigm.co.nz
Fri May 20 06:56:51 UTC 2011


I'm new to this list. Jonathan Gray has asked me to post on what we're doing
in NZ.

I'm hoping to write a blog post for the OKFN site, but in the interim this
email is a start.

In NZ we're currently drafting an Open Government Data and Information
Charter[1]. This will clearly set into policy a number of aspects around
open data that have so far just been the domain of early adopters inside and
outside of government. I'm working closely on this with Keitha Booth, one of
the government officials that wrote the NZ Govt Open Access Licencing

As a part of the Charter we're writing a set of Principles[3]. Tim McNamara
has written a post about the workshop[3] we ran on Wednesday this week. This
nicely describes the way members of the open data community worked together
with government officials to stress test and debug a set of Principles and
align it with existing legislation and regulation. We did this by editing
the Open NZ wiki, in real time, at the workshop. It was an awesome
experience. These Principles draw heavily on the work all of you have done
to date. We've taken guidance from the OECD, the UK Open Data Principles,
and the work done in the US, Australia, Canada and Europe.

The next steps are to draft a Declaration, and a Cabinet paper, including
evidence and case studies of the benefits that come from open data. It'd be
great to get your input on what we're doing, based on experience in other

It'd also be great get success stories (and stories of failure/cost due to
the lack of release of govt data) to help our case. One of the other
government officials involved in NZGOAL, has, on his own time and initiative
created http://opendatastories.org/ for this purpose. It's currently in
final development and will be launched very soon. If you've got stories to
contribute, please email Richard.Best at dia.govt.nz directly and he can give
you access.

In New Zealand we're doing all of this against the backdrop of an economic
recession, and a huge natural disaster. I live in Christchurch, and have
been massively impacted by the earthquake as has everyone here. 40% of the
buildings in our central city have been destroyed. It is an enormous
challenge. I myself have said goodbye to six sets of friends in the last
three weeks who've had to leave the city due to lost homes, jobs and
businesses. My accountant died and 180 other people died, and his colleagues
were trapped under desks in the dark, in a collapsed building for several

The silver lining is that much of the bureaucratic inertia that prevented
local and central government from using social media, cloud computing, and
open data, has been swept away. All of these got used in the emergency
response, to great affect. The legacy systems of the past, on computers and
in people's minds simply weren't up to the task. They've had to upgrade.
There's now a new awareness of the benefits of doing things differently, of
embracing open approaches.

I'm enormously optimistic about our future.


[1] http://wiki.open.org.nz/Open_Government_Data_and_Information_Charter
[2] http://www.e.govt.nz/policy/nzgoal
[3] http://wiki.open.org.nz/Open_Data_and_Information_Principles

Julian Carver
Seradigm Limited
PO Box 30042
021 684 147
03 982 1105
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