Open access to weather data review
Jointly with the Treasury, we concluded a review into open access weather data in October 2018.
The review's purpose
The review into open access to weather data aimed to identify if a level of government-held data, above that already available, should be more accessible to the public to encourage innovation in New Zealand and promote economic growth. It also considered how observational weather data made available by MetService and NIWA complied with the New Zealand Data and Information Management Principles.
What the review found
The review found that most data reuse principles are being met by NIWA and MetService. MetService has also informed the Treasury and our Ministry that it is making changes to further increase accessibility and reusability of observational weather data.
The review also found that access to observational weather data in New Zealand is more restricted compared with some other countries, largely because of the state-owned enterprise (SOE) and Crown research institute (CRI) models that MetService and NIWA operate under respectively. As an SOE and CRI, the 2 organisations have different roles but both models are based on earning commercial revenue to support data collection networks and cover operating costs. Opening up more data would require significant changes to MetService and NIWA’s legal and operating models.
The review concluded that making raw observational data more accessible would likely increase gain for mainly commercial users, while legislative reforms would require significant public resources and come at a cost to taxpayers. These costs would likely outweigh any wider benefits for New Zealanders at this time.
Background to the review
In 2016, the former Minister of Science and Innovation, the former Minister of Finance and the former Minister for State-owned Enterprises commissioned our Ministry and Treasury to review policy settings for open access to weather data.
The review report was to look specifically at data availability, cost, use and potential, and how this works in relation to New Zealand’s open government data principles.
“Weather data” is defined to mean observations of the state of the atmosphere from either in-situ or remote sensing systems (eg, ground-based weather stations, weather balloons, weather surveillance radar, satellites etc.).
Within the environmental services sector, observations make up the most basic data from which value-add services, such as weather forecasts or climatological products, are derived.
Weather Permitting: review of open access to weather data in New Zealand
In 2017, external consultants PwC and Experian produced the report Weather Permitting: Review of open access to weather data in New Zealand (Weather Permitting).
The review identified that some barriers existed to data availability in New Zealand and that licence restrictions might be limiting innovation and economic opportunities in value-added products and services using weather data.
The review also noted that the benefits and commercial viability of those innovations were unclear, and that there would be costs to making data more available.
The review also found that most commercial and public appetite was for forecasts rather than observational (raw) weather data.
Open access to weather data consultation 2016
In 2016, we arranged for a report to be produced determining if there was a level of government-held weather data which should be opened up for public access (over and above data already available) to better stimulate innovation and promote economic growth.
The report looked at data availability, cost, use and potential, and how this worked in relation to New Zealand’s open government data principles.
“Weather data” is defined to mean observations of the state of the atmosphere from either in-situ or remote sensing systems (eg, ground-based weather stations, weather balloons, weather surveillance radar, satellites etc.). Within the environmental services sector, observations make up the most basic data from which value-add services, such as weather forecasts or climatological products, are derived.
We sought public submissions to help inform the report, particularly on:
- current arrangements for access to weather data
- the future state of weather data availability in New Zealand
- the potential for innovations from access to weather data that is not currently available.
Information from submissions was analysed and included in the report.