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Easy access to data on all government services

We continually strive to get a deeper understanding of people’s experiences across government to access information and services — what they’re accessing, why and how. We also want to know how these experiences might be improved. This understanding supports us to evolve Govt.nz to ensure we provide information that meets people’s needs — where, when, and in the ways they need it.

In April 2019, Government Information Services, part of the Department of Internal Affairs, led a piece of research to identify all the public facing services that government provides. This was part of wider work to support the ongoing development of Govt.nz. 

We’ve developed a visual, interactive map of government services, and a dataset to support wider benefit across all of government and NZ.

What we did

Spire Digital was commissioned to support the discovery exercise with 72 agencies over a 2-month period. By the end of June, 51 agencies were engaged, 48 of whom had public facing services.

After a few attempts we landed on an approach. We provided a researched view of an agency’s services and then tested this with a group of representatives from that agency.

A big shout out to all the agencies involved, without you we wouldn’t have the robust data that we have.

Data by itself isn’t useful unless you have a way of sharing, visualising and analysing it. With this in mind, we decided to make the data available through a visualisation tool called Kumu, and to make it public.

A map of government services

Kumu is a web-based data visualisation platform that creates a visual map to help people to understand and interact with complex relationships, simply and easily. The map is easy to share, and we’ve made this publicly available.

The video below talks you through how the map works and a link to the map itself. 

> Video transcript

This video shows how Kumu was used to visualise the qualitative data collected as part of the research into the services that the New Zealand government provides.

Kumu is a visual mapping tool that provides a simple way to show complex systems. As the video plays, the Kumu map changes in response to user input to show different views of the underlying data.

A Kumu map is a collection of elements, connections, and loops. For our picture of government, we’ve used a combination of elements and connections to represent the system. Visually speaking, elements are circles, and connections are lines between the elements.

Each element and connection also hold additional information about the items. This information is stored in fields, which have 2 components: a name, and a value. The most basic field is named “Label”. The values we added to our element’s “Label” field are displayed as a text label on top of that element — ie. the name of the organisation, or a description of the service area, service or trigger. Connection labels are hidden by default, but it’s possible to show those labels as well. In addition to “Label”, there are 3 other pre-named fields:

  • Type — this field helps separate our items into categories. For example, our element types are “Organisation,” “Service area”, “Sub service”, and “Trigger”.
  • Description — this field holds longer descriptions of each item.
  • Tags — this can hold multiple values that each describe the items in different ways. For example, a service is tagged with the organisation that it belongs to, along with the service area it falls under.

Narrator:

In April 2019, GIS commissioned a piece of research, to take a snapshot of what government looked like in New Zealand.

We engaged with 51 organisations, 48 of them had public facing services. The organisations are the white circles.

We identified 303 service areas across the organisations. These are the dark green circles.

Services for everyone are solid circles, partially for the public are outlined.

Branching off the service areas are the services — the reasons why people need services. We identified 1,213 services. These are the pale green circles.

We also gathered 628 triggers — the reasons why people need services. These are the yellow circles.

We categorised digital services into 3 types:

  • Informational (information only);

and 2 types of Transactional services.

  • Partial, meaning you can complete part of the transaction online.
  • Complete, meaning you can complete the whole transaction online.

Of 374 identified service transactions, 159 are fully delivered online, and 215 are partially delivered online.

End users, or customers, were also categorised into 3 groups:

  • General public are services broadly designed for anyone and everyone.
  • Specific public have eligibility criteria associated with them.
  • Professional are services mainly used for professional reasons.

We can focus in on specific organisations, such as the Electoral Commission. Which has 2 service areas and multiple services branching off them.

So this is what a partial, yet rich, government looked like in June 2019. The dataset behind this interactive visualisation can be scaled, and we plan to extend, validate and share the dataset in future.

Kumu project — mapping New Zealand's government services 

An open dataset of government services

We’re planning to share this raw government services data on www.data.govt.nz in due course. This allows agencies, NGOs, and businesses to be able to add to and validate the dataset, or to pull this dataset into a business process, or analysis tool, thereby adding even more value.

Analysis of the data

We also did some high-level analysis of our own.

  • We engaged with 51 government organisations, 48 of whom had public facing services.
  • We identified 303 service areas, which are ‘groups’ that services fit into. An example of this would be at ACC — one service area would be injury prevention services, and then sporting injuries or workplace injuries would be services that sit underneath that area.
  • We identified 1, 213 services as part of our research.
  • We gathered 628 triggers, or reasons why people come to need services — that is, what happened in their life to trigger this need?

Categorisation

We categorised services areas and services as being either:

  • public — for the general public, or
  • partial — publicly available but targeted and mostly designed for a certain professional field.

We categorised our end-users, or customers into 3 types:

  • general public — for services broadly designed for anyone and everyone
  • specific public — for services that have eligibility criteria associated with them
  • professional — for services mainly used for professional reasons.

We recorded engagement options, or communication channels, for each service. The main ones were:

  • online
  • email
  • phone
  • face-to-face.

We further categorised services that could be accessed online. They were either:

  • informational, or
  • service transactions — full or partial. Partial services are those where only part of the transactional service can be done online, for example downloading a form from a website that then needs to be sent by mail.

Of 1,172 identified online services, 798 (68%) were classified as informational, and 374 (32%) as service transactions.

Of the 374 identified service transactions, 159 are fully delivered online and 215 are partially delivered online.

Note: some of the data hasn’t been fully verified, and due to resource restraints, this is only a partial picture of government services. Further work will have to be done to augment the data going forward.

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