Information lab to improve NZ society

Massey researchers and students can now use the Integrated Data Infrastructure laboratory on the Wellington campus, to gain greater and more in-depth insight into all aspects of our society and economy.

College of Health Pro Vice-Chancellor
Professor Jane Mills.

New Zealand’s first teaching and research Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) laboratory has been established on Massey University’s Wellington campus.

The lab is a collaboration between the Massey Business School, the College of Health and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences with Statistics New Zealand, and will provide staff and students use for IDI-approved projects.

The IDI is a large research database which holds microdata about people and households, including education, income, benefits, migration, justice, and health. The data is gathered from government agencies, Statistics New Zealand surveys, and non-government organisations, and is linked together or integrated, to form the IDI.

The data is completely anonymous, so information like names, dates of birth and addresses have been removed, and numbers such as IRD (Inland Revenue Department) and NHI (National Health Index) are encrypted.

Massey researchers and students can use the IDI to gain greater and more in-depth insight into all aspects of our society and economy. The laboratory is an integral component of Massey’s Master of Analytics programme. Students are given training in the use of the IDI and are encouraged to use for their capstone projects.

Representatives of the three colleges manage the operation of the laboratory and work together with Statistics New Zealand on approving student or staff projects.

College of Health Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Mills welcomed the establishment of the laboratory on the Wellington campus. “It is an excellent illustration of collaboration between our three colleges, which have received enthusiastic support from Statistics New Zealand. The lab will enable our students and research staff to analyse a wide range of government datasets for projects which contribute to answering questions about complex issues that affect all New Zealanders.”

Massey’s Master of Analytics (Health) gives graduates the tools, skills and techniques to turn health data into robust information to guide policy development and decision-making across the health sector. The programme has been designed in collaboration with the major organisations in the health sector, including the Ministry of Health, Statistics New Zealand and District Health Boards.

While health data is one of the largest categories of data available for research in the IDI, the Master of Analytics (Public Policy) introduces students to the wide array of other data held in the eight broad public policy categories of: education and training; benefits and social services; justice; people and communities; population; income and work; and housing. Students also consider the data sovereignty (who owns and safeguards the data) and ethical issues associated with use of the IDI.

The IDI lab allows students in the Master of Analytics (Business) to add to their skillset by conducting advanced projects using real world data. In particular, the rich data from the IDI provides students with the opportunity to apply their analytical skills to solve important questions around various topics including household expenditures on goods and services, assets and liabilities, employment, housing costs, and living standards.

Related articles

Launch of new online health data website - healthspace
Opinion: Data deluge needs human analytical filter
NZ health sector ‘data rich, information poor’