Wellington company Eight Wire wins contract to build government data-sharing platform
A Wellington start-up company has won a major contract to roll out a system that will share personal details of New Zealanders on a large scale.
Eight Wire secured a five-year contract to build a data exchange platform that will allow government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to exchange information.
The firm will work with the social investment unit, which was set up to provide evidence-based information to agencies to help inform their investment plans. Prime Minister Bill English was instrumental in the establishment of the unit when he was Finance Minister.
The first transfer of data was completed in December between the Ministry of Social Development and the Methodist Mission Southern. This data was anonymised.
Eight Wire co-founder and chief executive Jason Gleason said he hoped to have five major agencies, and about 10 NGOs, on board by September.
"We are just slowly gaining momentum - like a boulder moving down a hill."
When complete, the NGO number will reach the hundreds.
The data would help agencies and organisations target and invest in small groups, after it was revealed that the 10,000 neediest Kiwis cost taxpayers $6.5 billion over their lives.
This showed more could be done to understand which programmes were, and were not, working, and why.
"So what they needed was the technology that allow that to happen," Gleason said.
"It's about spending money better, so it's not spreading millions of dollars across an entire programme, it's actually honing in on those individuals and saying 'Ok we are going to spend $30,000, say, per child for these 15 kids because they can get the most out of this'."
One requirement of winning the contract was that the transferred data remained solely within New Zealand.
They would achieve this by using an application which seamlessly moved millions of rows of data between separate organisations, Gleason said.
"From a technology perspective, we sit as an intermediary between the two.
"The NGO can say, 'We want to share this information with an agency - specifically these bits of information, and nothing else', so what we do is we pull that information out, then translate it into something that the agency can use, then push it straight into their systems."
They were "straddling an area between security and transparency", he said.
Eight Wire was founded by Gleason and Nigel Thomas in 2013 with help from the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (Wreda).