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Treating data as an asset

We treat data as an asset by identifying the data that matters for delivering better customer outcomes, governing and managing it effectively across the data lifecycle, and using and sharing it across government and as open data to generate insights that support decision making and innovation.

Why this is important

It is recognised internationally that data use and sharing across government and as open data has positive social and economic benefits for data providers, data users and the wider economy (OECD). Sharing government data can also help to create a fairer and safer society for everyone (ONDC). The NSW State Infrastructure Strategy, 2018-2038 called for data to be treated as an asset in its own right.

The volume, type and complexity of data that NSW government handles is growing rapidly. This is being driven by increasing use of digital channels to provide government services, and initiatives that use technology and data solutions to improve the quality of life for communities in NSW, including smart places and emergency response efforts.

"Real-time data becomes invaluable for decision making during a time of crisis." Senior Executive, Department of Premier and Cabinet

Data from outside government is also important for understanding our customers and we collect and procure data from the non-government and private sectors. Where this data is useful across government, we will ensure procurement is streamlined and targeted to reduce duplication and cost.

We are making better use of this data. We are developing deidentified enduring data assets that link together data sets from across NSW government, for example the NSW Human Services Data Set and the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study and, where possible, from other states and territories and the Australian government, for example the National Disability Data Asset (see below), for use by NSW Government agencies, service providers and researchers to address key government priorities that require a cross-sector response.

We also publish over ten thousand government data sets as open data to support government transparency and provide a platform for innovation by government, industry, researchers and the community.

How do we value data?

It is difficult to value data. However, generally, the value of data increases as it moves through the data valuation chain from raw data to actionable insights and actions. (Figure 3). The products and resources derived from data assets are also valuable assets.

Figure 3: Data management lifecycle and data valuation chain
Figure 3: Data management lifecycle and data valuation chain (Adapted from C. Mawer 2015)

Managing data effectively across its lifecycle increases its value (Figure 3). This includes ensuring good data quality from the time of data collection, including use of recognised data standards. This facilitates data linkage and data use and sharing; and designing and using systems that ensure security of the data and maintain the privacy of individuals.

The value of data is also increased if it is discoverable and accessible and if it is well-described by metadata. This helps users understand the data so they can trust it and use it appropriately. It is important that any metadata remains with the data if it is shared or published as open data. Correct interpretation of the data is enhanced by collaborating with agencies who understand the context in which the data was collected and any limitations of the data. Systems which store, transform, calculate, or manipulate data must also be well documented. The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Information Asset Register is used to create metadata records, link to corporate data sources and other resources and identify the names of custodians, stewards and creators within the organisation.

Collecting, managing, using, sharing and providing support for interpretation of data requires investment. If data is poorly managed it could become a liability. Minimising ongoing costs of handling and storing data by only collecting the data that is needed and using, reusing, improving and sharing data effectively is important to maintain the value of the data asset.


  • We treat data as an asset and manage and protect it effectively throughout its lifecycle, including managing data quality at source where possible, and using master and metadata standards that facilitate data linkage, use and sharing.
  • We collect, create or procure data once and use it many times, including through enduring deidentified data linkages, where possible and permitted by law.
  • We support and promote greater use and availability of data including publishing open data with appropriate safeguards.
  • We strive to understand return on our data investment.


Identify data and associated metadata as a significant state asset,
acknowledging its value in developing and improving services and the
investment required to create and maintain it.
Create and implement a spend category for government procurement of data
and data services so expenditure on data is transparent.
Develop guidelines on calculating the cost of managing data and the value
created by transforming, using and sharing data.
Where appropriate, support and coordinate sharing of Departmental and
Agency data assets identified as being of high value across the sector and the
development and ongoing stewardship of enduring deidentified linked data
assets to ensure accessibility and enable collective problem-solving
Where appropriate, procure and share private and non-government sector data and insights identified as being of high value across the sector, leveraging existing Departmental and Agency relationships and domain knowledge, to ensure value for money and accessibility.

Case Studies

Last updated 07 Jun 2021