Access to environmental data

Enable monitoring data that is submitted to councils in compliance with resource consent conditions to be readily available to the public.

It takes too much time for individuals to request specific data for specific sites, yet the information is all properly public information.  

The release of such data would enable public participation in responding to it.  Similarly to a traffic light system for the busy-ness of roads, there could be an increased awareness of discharges into air, land and water that could be examined by location.

Local government is already taking action to improve its systems, but the law (OIA/LGOIMA) only obliges information to be released upon request.  The government could create a brief regulation (an National Environmental Standard under the RMA) that requires all individuals to upload such data onto a common (national) website.  This would reduce any burden on councils and would encourage systemising of information across the country.

This approach is consistent with other countries who take action to provide access to environmental information in accordance with the Aarhaus Convention and the Kiev Protocol.  Once the information is available then private companies and innovators can use that information to create league tables and apps that demonstrate progress against bottom lines.

Why the contribution is important

You can't improve what you don't measure.  Councils often receive environmental monitoring data but have very little capacity to deal with it.

Transparency about this data (and associated reductions in delay in bureaucratic requests to release data that will always be public data) will enable people to use techology to share knowledge about environmental impacts and to innovate to improve environmental performance by emitters.  


by Rachel on August 24, 2016 at 12:56PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.5
Based on: 2 votes


  • Posted by Kay August 25, 2016 at 00:09

    Local government data should be accessible by a searchable database tool for grouped data. Individual details such as name and street number should be hidden. General information for resource applications should be available as metadata cross a range of areas. Councils have said they will do this but creating the system is resource intensive. Central government should help develop appropriate software and assistance for the steps to use it.
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