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NZ data standardisation and GNS Science’s contribution to the data catalogue

Data.gov.nz wants to use data more efficiently and effectively to make better choices and provide quick, effortless and smart services to New Zealanders across the entire government spectrum. Improving data content standardisation practices among government organisations will mean that the government is better able to meet the growing expectations of New Zealanders.

Data collected across government has not been designed consistently or managed with all-of-government needs in mind. This means when an attempt is made to share data (for multiple reasons and only where permitted and safe to do so) it can be very difficult to do.

Data content standardisation aims to provide a reliable and consistent basis for the New Zealand data system to maximise the value of data, create a more complete view to inform government policy and investment decisions and enable information sharing and reconciling the data faster and more efficiently.

As the functional lead for data, the Government Chief Data Steward (GCDS) is working across government to co-design, develop, and implement short data content standardisation, tapping into specialised expertise. The GCDS has the authority to set mandatory requirements across government.

Once approved, data content requirements are mandatory for New Zealand government organisations that share electronic data containing the data concept in the data content standard. (Government organisations refers to the State sector Public Service departments and departmental organisations as specified in schedules 1 and 1A of the State Sector Act 1988.)

The government data content standardisation design process also provides opportunities to improve connections across government organisations and increase knowledge about common data problems.

One area that they have made significant strides and progress is in digitising maps. Over the past 150 years, many geological maps of all parts of New Zealand have been made – and most of these maps online can be accessed online thanks to work by GNS Science. For the past 10 years, the team there has been consistently digitising its national archive of historic geological maps.

The geological map archive is one of eight Nationally Significant Collections and Databases cared for by GNS Science, including GNS Science, Web maps, and Nationally Significant Collections and Databases.

Digitising and cataloguing the maps makes them discoverable and accessible. Along with the datasets and GIS layers covering a spectrum of New Zealand geoscience, harvestable metadata means GNS Science can connect to and automatically update data.govt.nz. Moreover, this allows precious historic paper maps themselves to be better preserved.

By making the data more discoverable, even more people and organisations will be able to access and use these data. Currently, GNS Science data are used by local and central governments, researchers within New Zealand and internationally, utility, construction, insurance and exploration industry and more.

Have you noticed how your smartphone knows which way you’re facing when you are looking at a map? That’s because a digital compass using geomagnetic data is working together with GPS, accelerometers and a gyroscope. Digital compasses use global geomagnetic data to compute direction and they are now commonly embedded into consumer devices such as mobile phones.

The New Zealand Geomagnetic Database is hosted by GNS Science. The Database documents the short-term and long-term fluctuations in the Earth’s regional magnetic field from observations collected every second from observatories at Eyrewell, north-west of Christchurch, Scott Base in Antarctica and Apia, Samoa. Data from these observatories are sent to INTERMAGNET, an international organisation that archives and disseminates magnetic observatory data for applications such as digital compass calibration.

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