Justin Lester talks data v insight

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18 June 2020

The communities we live in have become incredibly diverse. No one size fits all.  Taumarunui is different from Waiouru, Cromwell likewise from Alexandra and in Porirua you have some of New Zealand’s wealthiest suburbs next door to some of our poorest.

I’ve spent 15 years working in central and local government and despite building a good level of experience, one feeling never really went away. As a public servant or decision-maker, you don’t want to rely heavily on gut instinct and you never want to ‘run blind’. That’s why we need better, robust, local data so public servants can make the best recommendations and elected representatives, well-informed decisions.

Until now robust, granular, local information has either been non-existent or inaccessible. Individual townships or suburbs weren’t able to be broken down and analysed as individual communities. Statistics NZ and other Government data is often communicated at the national or regional level. Likewise, the Census provides a great benchmark, but is carried out every five years and following an event like Covid-19, requires additional insights to retain its relevance.

This is what Dot Loves Data does differently. Their community-specific analysis provides ongoing, unique, granular insights into what’s happening at a community level, which is of enormous benefit for council officers and elected representatives. The data is updated as a continuous time series so you can monitor change over months or years and see if things are getting better or worse. You can work out quickly what’s going right or wrong and what needs to be fixed. It’s something we’ve not seen before in New Zealand and it’s changing the way Local Government works.  

Dot Loves Data has now partnered with Local Government New Zealand to deliver community-specific, real-time reporting. With our dashboards you can measure the level of consumer spend every day and also have the most up to date information on your area’s crime, housing, gambling, unemployment levels and socio-economic performance.

The best thing is that it’s a one-stop-shop. All of the information is at your fingertips, available 24/7, objective and highly accurate. I used the tools as Mayor and believe in them because I know they’re world-leading. It’s going to change how we do things in local government. It will save ratepayers money up and down the country because the investment can be targeted better and make our communities even better places to live.