Photo: unpaved road leading through forest.

building trust in Aotearoa

My talk for the NZ Government Data Summit in Wellington, March 2020. Slides at, published (like this content) under a CC-BY 4.0 International licence. Also published on Linkedin.

Kia ora all — it’s an honour to be here :)

I’m here today to talk about data trusts and other such data institutions as ways to increase trust in Aotearoa’s data and help us unlock its full value through sharing it more widely, more wisely, without putting people at risk.

we have a problem

Data stewardship’s a big deal.

Data volumes are growing by 30% to 40% each year. And as humanity collects, stores…

Stones forming a barrier or collaborative (depending on how you look at it). Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash.

As humanity collects, stores, manages and uses ever larger amounts of data, it’s more important than ever to do it well.

It means sharing and opening data wherever possible, and using it to tackle the challenges facing our civilisations and our planet.

And that means sound data strategies and data governance.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Data trusts — a model for Aotearoa (pt I), I think that the coalescing concept of data trusts — and other forms of data collaborative — is a particularly exciting and potentially powerful way to do this.

When people speak about data…

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash.

Update: see the next in this series over on the Open Data Charter’s blog: Data trusts and trusting openness.

Data stewardship’s a big deal.

As we generate more data, which is more exploited by more companies and governments to further interests which definitely aren’t ours, the idea that data needs trusted stewardship to generate real benefit is all the rage. Genuinely and for trustwashing purposes.

_How_ to do this, however, is far from easy. And a recent concept may have at least some of the answers, some of the time: data trusts.

The concept’s still a very new one, so…

Part of the interior of the National Library of New Zealand. Credit: National Library of NZ. Thanks to Mary Hay and Mark Beatty for finding it for me!

June 2017

Libraries are one of my very favouritest things ever. Always have been. Always will be.

They’re one of the few true civic spaces left — anyone can come into them, and find a warm, dry place where they can interact with others, have quiet time, learn and share. And so much more. They’re our community hubs, and will have an ever more*, not less, important part to play in the social fabric of our lives and places.

In 2017 I was invited to be on a panel for the National Library of New Zealand’s ‘Coffee and a Byte’…

Description: a grownup reads ‘Mother Goose’ to a young person, wit shelves of books in the background.

Written as a sort of flow-of-consciousness moment for Library Week in 2016. Reproduced here — sans editing I’d love to do — for accessibility and linky goodness purposes :)

Libraries are extraordinary places.

They’re community hubs,
places of learning, places of knowledge,
places of exploration, places of discovery,
places of experience,
places of companionship, places of solitude,
places of diversity, places of people-like-you,
places of challenge, places of acceptance,
places of opportunity, places of rest,
places of excitement, places of quiet, places of hubbub.

They’re places in which to meet, and places in which to retreat.

They’re for the old…

Update: read a newer, wider iteration of this piece, bringing in #opendata and the #openX community, at :)

Last week, I was invited to kick off the start of Wellington City Council’s Our City Tomorrow speaker series. The lineup’s amazing, and meant to get people thinking about the next 2–3 decades and what they could / should mean for Wellington city.

Read more about Our City Tomorrow

Register for the next Our City Tomorrow talks

Unsurprisingly, I chose to talk about smart cities and civic technology — there was so much more I wanted to add on other subjects…

I love Trello.

Well, to be most accurate, I love Kanban boards. They’re an intuitive way to organise tasks, and there’s almost endless variety in how one sets them up, and how they work.

I use them for work, and also personal projects. For tracking, in real time, my work against my performance goals and subjects of highest interest.

And for doing things like prioritising tasks (read: cards).

The example below takes place in Trello :)

Turning 2d into sortable 1d

Prioritisation matrices are commonplace, and people use a range of values for the x and y axes.*

For the purposes of this particular set…

I think about accessibility a lot. Many people do :) It’s hugely important, but often ignored or put aside as a “nice to have”. And it’s a neglected part of far too many diversity and inclusion initiatives.

It seems that many people find accessibility (a11y) a bit, well, inaccessible. They’re not quite sure what it’s all about, or why people get so passionate about it, or how / where to start.

So I was thrilled to see this wonderful list by Julianna Rowsell, which I’m reproducing here with her permission.

Roadmap for accessibility

  • Be pragmatic: move forward with accessibility.
  • Build capacity in inclusion.

Update update: Read an update on this project over at :D

Update: I’d love to hear from you — what would _you_ use this map for? What have you learnt from it? What do you want to learn?

New Zealand in particular — but I wouldn’t be surprised if many countries more generally — has an issue.

We know that there are lots of people working in what I call the “openX” space: open data/gov/source/access and civic tech. We know there are organisations, communities and initiatives / programmes in this space, too.

But no one has a cohesive overview…

Networks over silos and lists, any day.

One of the things I most often find myself telling people is that I don’t think in lists. I think in networks.

I think like this because:

  • they show linkages between concepts and ideas
  • they can help give an idea of priorities — those nodes with the most connections may be the best things to work on first (or the most complicated, of course!)
  • they intuitively make more sense to me :)

Here’s a recent example.

The brief was simple: in 5–6 minutes, talk about how I’d use and its twitter presence to:

  • promote open data
  • lift data management…

aimee whitcroft

#opendata, #opengov, #civictech, #openX, engagement, tree shaker, plaque reader, @opendatanz, @teh_aimee,,, trails, dogs, kōrero.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store