Rolling out research for public good #FigshareFestNZ

The bumpy road to rolling out the Index of Multiple Deprivation
Assoc Prof Daniel Exeter

IMD looks at deprivation in different areas eg employment, education, income, housing, access to services. Most rural areas in South Island not very deprived, but the east and north of North Island. In Christchurch also various quintile 5 areas surrounded by quintile 3 areas – very sharp north-west/south-east divide. Can drill down to see what’s driving deprivation in each area.

Want to maximise the impact of the public good money so put up website and made all datasets and reports freely available, easy to download, with full attribution. But first hurdle was getting data out of StatsNZ IDI who are very cautious – had to work closely with them pointing out their data was very aggregated. Published papers with journal who wanted data and wouldn’t accept institutional site they’d painstakingly created. [In fairness, institutions do mess up their websites frequently so it’s not good for longterm storage!] So quickly created a Figshare website – one advantage is other institutions can use API to access this data.

Bumpy ride = mostly interesting challenge. Eg

  • someone creating a survey wanting to know people’s geographical area without asking for actual address to make it easier to manage data. Created something where users could enter address and it’d convert it to the area along with IMD data
  • looking at poor oral health of children per deprivation per ethnicity
  • getting it into policy – mostly from getting emails from people asking how to interpret something. One DHB in North Island interacts with 5 local govt authorities and was asked to create one per authority – lots of work to recreate this at that level but achieved
  • someone using it for climate change – heat vulnerability index including IMD, social isolation, age bands
  • noted some areas ended up not included in census which affects accuracy

Funded by Health Research Council but most uptake through govt, eg also Canterbury Wellbeing Index; Ministry of Education, Alcohol Health Watch lets you type in an address and get a report to make a submission against liquor licenses

Are big data and data sharing the panacea? It’s fantastic but there are big issues around too: attirbution, ethics, risk of data gerrymandering, need to use theory to inform methods. Sometimes people use the IMD in ways that are useful but potentially misleading. Institutions are playing catchup, not yet sure how to deal with this. Hopes the community being built around Figshare etc will help develop solutions and best practices.


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