Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa (LAWA) is a collaboration of organisations with a common aim: giving the public access to data, to tell the story of our environment. The objective was simple, to make environmental data collected by councils available to the public in an easily comprehensible, credible and trustworthy way.
The site launched in 2014 with data on freshwater quality. It has since been expanded to include coastal water quality, real-time flow and water level data, and information about consented water commitments.
The state of our environment is a key issue for New Zealanders. The site demonstrates a commitment to open-sourcing data collected by local government, and to make this available to all – be that a lay user wanting to know if their beach is safe to swim at, through to those wanting data for their own analysis.
LAWA operates on a principle of giving an overview first (employing easy to understand infographics), then allowing drilldown to further information, and giving raw data on demand.
“LAWA is a brave move by Local Authorities, and one that should be applauded. It lays open river information for the public to see, in ways that they can actually understand. The information is presented clearly and openly without spin or attempts to hide behind the complexity in the data. If a river is being degraded, it says so. The data visualisation was actually designed based on what people want to know about their local river.”
– Gareth Morgan