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The Social Investment Agency (SIA), in partnership with Eight Wire Ltd, is leading the implementation of the Data Exchange (DX) and transforming the way New Zealand's social sector data is shared.

As a society we are increasingly data rich, but information poor. Effective social service delivery relies on better understanding the environment, context and challenges of people in need. To make a difference, those who can help need access to the right information at the right time.

The DX helps facilitate this by providing a safe, secure and easy method for Government and service providers to exchange data, alongside clear guidelines about how data is used. Four government agencies and seven providers are connected so far, with many more planned over the next three years.

Using the DX, SIA is able to ensure data is securely shared, allowing evidence-based investment decisions to be made. This in turn helps create better results and enhances people’s lives.

How does the technology work?

The DX is, in effect, a smart pipe that facilitates safe, efficient and controlled access to data.  It is a hybrid client/cloud-based ICT product that connects the data of different organisations, while giving each organisation full control and visibility of what data is shared with whom and how. The DX far exceeds all government security standards.

The key design considerations for the system were that it would: 

  • access information from any data store, anywhere, without needing any technical ICT development skills
  • respond to system changes automatically, minimising ongoing support
  • provide world-leading security and privacy controls, ensuring personal data is kept safe.

To use the DX, there are three steps: 

  1. Connect: The DX works with all major data storage systems and APIs. Once authorised, it takes as little as 20 minutes for an organisation to connect and begin exchanging data with any other data store.
  2. Discover: The DX has algorithms that map sources and destinations, as well as pluggable workflow services — users merely guide the process. 
  3. Exchange: Once authorised, raw data is pulled from the source system and is converted to code that is then run on the destination system. This allows information to move between systems without requiring manual effort to build interfaces. Note, no data is stored within the DX. 

What is the future of the technology?

The use of the Eight Wire Data Exchange product is already triggering an awakening to the benefits of automating the sharing of data, leading to widespread acceptance and use in the health care and environmental sectors. In addition to the SIA project, over the next 12 months alone the technology is also being used to deliver: 

  • Health care: The Eight Wire product is being used to deliver a single source of the truth for primary health care information including coordination of after-hours and emergency care between the hundreds of separate emergency departments, ambulance services and other providers.
  • Mental health: Providing a single view of mental health services that cuts across the health care, law enforcement, insurance and social development sectors. 
  • Environment/natural resources: The delivery of near real-time air and water quality metrics is being trialled to pull information from thousands of sensors across the country.
  • Analytics: Removing the need for paper or web-based surveys of business and consumer performance indicators for national statistics and economic research.
  • Insurance: Providing health care insurers with the ability to build better artuarial models with a single data channel across the country.

Building on the New Zealand government experience, the UK government is using the same technology with Singapore to follow early in 2018.

Social Investment Agency website

Eight Wire website

The Data Exchange featured in the Digital Government Showcase, which was part of Digital 5 2018, the 4th annual gathering of the world's most advanced digital nations that NZ hosted in February 2018.

D5 group of digital nations

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