Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What data should Government have?

The Senate committee inquiring into the first Government NBN Bill has reported. This is the Bill to extend the provisions introduced during the NBN 1.0 process to provide carrier network information to the NBN bidders. This Bill proposes extending the requirement to utlities and to provide the information to the Implementation Study and to the NBN Co itself.

Outside of the specifics it raises the important question of exactly how much information should be available to Government for the purposes of policy mking. A related issue is how the processes for acquiring information shouldbe established - it is actually easier for regulated firms to provide data regularly in a standard form - effectively so it can be automated at the back end of systems - than respond to one off requests. That in turn raises questions about how we should coordinate the capture and presentation of geographic information.

For example, I know some local councils have used CAD CAM systems to basically map every piece of infrastructuere in their areas. That means some Local Governments can provide intricate details on infrastructure. Elsewhere major utilities have only "digitised as they go", is there a case for a massive remedial mapping task?

A report from the US shows how stupid this can get. To avoid having to provide details of exactly which premises they serve US ISPs will be required to provide the information "by block" which may be just a dozen premises. That means that each ISP needs to be able to map their data to the block data for the Government to aggregate it.

It would be far simpler to provide the data by address to a reporting authority, but then limit the reporting authority to reporting by block of twelve. Whether that "reporting authority" should be the PSMA or ANS is my next evaluation task. (Note to one earnest reader - yes I'm following hough on that contact with the PSMA).

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