Dominello says data lake will transform NSW

In an address to the Transformation in Insurance event in Sydney on Wednesday, New South Wales minister for finance, services and property, Victor Dominello (pictured), outlined the state’s own radical digital transformation and open data initiative culminating in the mid-year launch of a new open data platform and “data lake”.

The self-described “data zealot” promised the audience of leading industry experts the NSW government would blaze the data trail across insurance and all other data-driven sectors.

“NSW was the first out of the box and I can give you my word we will continue to be the leaders in this area. I am a zealot when it comes to the digital world. I like making decisions based on evidence," he said.

When asked to what degree the minister supported open data access, he was emphatic: “As much as humanly possible,” he said. “I’m a huge, huge fan of open data.

“In a decade to come this is where a lot of the innovation and economic activity will be centered around and we (government) have a lot of it. When the citizen owns the privacy settings that’ll be great for everyone.”

Dominello, in his previous role in the Baird government as NSW minister for innovation and regulation, has already overseen the establishment of the groundbreaking NSW Data Analytics Centre (DAC), a deep-reaching and legislatively empowered data-crunching initiative.

“We established the DAC, the first of its kind, having the legislative power to ask every agency inside government -  subject to privacy and security - we need your data. We need it in 14 days, no ifs no buts, and we need it to solve some pretty serious social issues.”

As initiatives like the New Payments Platform (NPP) and the blockchain promise to transform community interaction with data, Dominello himself has played a pivotal role across several state level government data initiatives, from Fuel check – an online tool tracking prices at the petrol pump in real time – as well as responsibility and oversight of the controversial smart meter rollouts across the state.

Data lake

The minister described a user-centric approach to data that would ensure, "more money in the front end, less in the back", while also suggesting a revamped open data platform would go live around mid-2017.

“That’s what we’re doing inside of the DAC, we’re getting information, privacy security settings in place, putting it into a safe harbor and doing a big analytics piece … that’s not been done before on the scale that we’ve done," he said.

Dominello told the CSC event, held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, that the NSW government under Gladys Berejiklian was already establishing “a data lake” to pool and co-mingle data streams from all parts of state and government, open and ready to be drawn upon for analytics across all agencies.

“The DAC is the brain, the brain needs output and we need the data streams coming in – green slips, whatever it is – coming into a pool, a data lake," he said. “Every time we get new data streams we get into a reservoir that the DAC sits on top of that can help us with more insights.”

Dominello plans to subsequently redesign the open data platform after the NSW government in 2016 released an updated open data policy outlining six key principles for government agencies, starting with the mantra: - data should be open by default, protected where required.

“What you will see is the best open data platform in the country, by a country mile, and I’m going to try and get that by the middle of this year."

When former boss Mike Baird stepped down, Dominello explicitly requested to retain carriage of the insurance portfolio. His advice to the sector on transformational change was simple.

“Once you start sharing information you’ll drive deeper insights and get better returns.”

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