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Data Commons Blueprint

Updated 8 months ago

Data Commons Blueprint

A high-trust, lower-cost alternative to enable data integration and reuse.

Download a printable PDF version of this document here.

For more info, or to get in touch with the Data Commons Project, please visit our website.


In June 2016, the New Zealand Data Futures Partnership, the NEXT Foundation, the Bioheritage Science Challenge, and Inflection agreed to co-fund the development of a blueprint for an alternative model to enable data sharing in New Zealand.

The project had two deliverables:

Firstly, the formation of a network of interested volunteers in New Zealand who have a range of technical expertise and a deep interest in data integration and reuse. EXP Ltd (part of the Enspiral collective) was contracted to convene an open conversation, using online tools such as Loomio and Gitbook, a series of workshops and interviews, and a two-day retreat with this group of volunteers.

The outcome of those conversations was the second deliverable, this Blueprint document. Here we outline the conceptual thinking behind the idea of a “Data Commons” approach. We describe the high-level design features that will make it work, and outline the steps required to build one.

In preparing this document, the working group’s goal was to provide what we believe is a safer, lower-cost and higher-value alternative to the current approaches to the challenge of data integration and reuse. While there is still much work to be done, we believe this document establishes a model that is worth further investigation. The technical experts involved consider it to be relatively low-cost and technically feasible to prototype.

The New Zealand Data Commons Blueprint is published under an open Creative Commons license so that other people can extend the conversation. We are not the only group trying to solve the dilemma of how to use integrated data for public, economic, scientific and environmental good while at the same time managing the significant risks inherent in doing so.


This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand License.