An innovative national roading performance reporting and data quality assurance tool has put the Road Efficiency Group and Company-X in the running for the 2021 New Zealand Excellence in IT Awards.

The project sparked a data quality benchmarking project designed to lead to evidence-led decision making in the New Zealand transport sector.

REG, a collaboration between Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and 68 road controlling authorities including Waka Kotahi, the Department of Conservation and city and district councils, commissioned the project.

Hamilton software specialist Company-X co-founder and director Jeremy Hughes led a team of software specialists in building the One Network Road Classification Performance Measures Reporting Tool (ONRC PMRT) for the Road Efficiency Group (REG).

The reporting tool contains data for every road controlling authority in the country.

Road controlling authorities can run reports on their network characteristics, and compare them with other road controlling authorities.

The data quality aspect of the project came out of an aeroplane conversation between Hughes and REG Data Sub Group chair Dawn Inglis where they imagined a future where users of the tool could interrogate the quality of the data behind performance measures reports and discover how reliable the data is.

Company-X was commissioned to research best practices in how to measure data quality and recommend to the REG Data Sub Group of industry subject matter experts how to proceed.

INNOVATION: A roading data quality project came out of an aeroplane conversation between Dawn Inglis, left, and Jeremy Hughes.

How data quality assurance project became finalist in 2021 New Zealand Excellence in IT Awards

Hughes built a team, including an information science masters graduate, to research the best direction to take the data quality project. The team chose four dimensions, accuracy, completeness, consistency and timelines, and developed 63 metrics to measure and report on the roading data.

Company-X took an iterative approach to the project as it collaborated with REG and industry subject matter experts. The publication of data quality reports in the reporting tool changed the industry attitude and culture. A REG case study published about Taupo District Council concluded: “You need to get serious about data, or don't bother.”

Manager REG Partnership Programme at Waka Kotahi Andrew McKillop said, “If you want to make objective decisions repeatably and deliver good outcomes for road users and communities good quality, assessable data is essential.”

The Company-X team researched worldwide best practices for data quality assurance from world leaders around the globe and learned from their experiences. Company-X made recommendations to REG about how to move the project forward to ensure a successful data quality improvement program.

REG and Company-X added the ability to interrogate the quality of data being reported in the Performance Measures Reporting Tool. This has never been done before anywhere in the world.

The REG project has taken the roading sector on a journey and significantly moved it forward in the area of evidence-based decision making.

Since its launch in 2019, every road controlling authority has used the tool every year to view the quality of data they are responsible for, assisted with or been involved in. Having the information available and understandable has changed the culture and the attitude towards data quality in the sector. An improvement can be seen in data quality metrics over five years.

Andrew McKillop
WAKA KOTAHI: Manager Partnership Programmes Andrew McKillop.

McKillop was thrilled the project had caught the eye of the award judges.

“This is a celebration of the partnership between REG and Company-X,” he said.

“The work REG is doing, and Company-X is supporting, is absolutely fantastic,” Inglis said. “There’s a real appetite in the sector to do this stuff.”

“It’s been a fantastic project collaborating with REG and helping deliver its vision,” Hughes said. “I am absolutely thrilled to hear we are in the running for the Excellence in IT Awards.”

REG and Company-X are finalists in the Excellence in Govtech Award. The winner will be announced at a Gala Dinner at Te Papa, Wellington, on July 16.