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Integrated Data Infrastructure Lab for data analytics on NZ’s society and economy

New Zealand’s first teaching and research Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) laboratory has been established on Massey University’s Wellington campus.

As reported, the lab is born from collaboration among the Massey Business School, the College of Health and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences with Statistics New Zealand.

It will provide staff and students use for IDI-approved projects.

Integrated Data Infrastructure

The IDI is a large research database that holds microdata about people and households, including education, income, benefits, migration, justice, and health.

The data is gathered from government agencies, Statistics New Zealand surveys, and non-government organisations. They are then linked together or integrated in order to form the IDI.

The data is completely anonymous. Information such as names, dates of birth, and addresses have been removed while numbers such as Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and National Health Index (NHI) are encrypted.

Massey researchers and students can use the IDI to gain greater and more in-depth insight into all aspects of the society and economy.

The laboratory is an integral component of the University’s Master of Analytics programme. Students are given training in the use of the IDI and are encouraged to use for their capstone projects.

Representatives of the three colleges manage the operation of the laboratory and work together with Statistics New Zealand on approving student or staff projects.

The College of Health Pro Vice-Chancellor had welcomed the establishment of the laboratory on the Wellington campus.

It is an excellent illustration of collaboration between the three colleges, which have received enthusiastic support from Statistics New Zealand.

The lab will enable the students and research staff to analyse a wide range of government datasets for projects that contribute to answering questions about complex issues that affect all New Zealanders.

Master of Analytics programme

The University’s Master of Analytics (Health), for instance,  gives graduates the tools, skills and techniques to turn health data into robust information to guide policy development and decision-making across the health sector.

The programme has been designed in collaboration with the major organisations in the health sector, including the Ministry of Health, Statistics New Zealand and District Health Boards.

While health data is one of the largest categories of data available for research in the IDI, the Master of Analytics (Public Policy) introduces students to the wide array of other data held in the eight broad public policy categories. These categories are:

  1. Education and training
  2. Benefits and social services
  3. Justice
  4. People and communities
  5. Population
  6. Income and Work
  7. Housing
  8. Data sovereignty, or those who own and safeguard data; and ethical issues

The IDI lab allows students in the Master of Analytics (Business) to add to their skillset by conducting advanced projects using real world data.

In particular, the rich data from the IDI provides students with the opportunity to apply their analytical skills to solve important questions around various topics including household expenditures on goods and services, assets and liabilities, employment, housing costs, and living standards.

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