Data Blog

The importance of using our official Data Access Tools

Published: Thu Sep 28 2023 4:06 PM
Data Blog

Welcome, haere mai to another GeoNet Data Blog. Today we talk about why we’d like to encourage you to use our official tools to access GeoNet data, rather than contacting a friend and asking them to provide the data for you.

As we hope you already know, GeoNet collects and makes available lots of data of all sorts of flavors and varieties. We put a lot of effort into trying to make it straightforward for you to find out what data we have, and then get what you need. Although we might not always get this right.

We recently heard a story of someone contacting a friend at GNS Science and asking if they could get some data for them. Of course, “phone a friend” is always an option and we know that in this case the friend was able to help provide the data. But it got us thinking, if a data user chooses to contact someone they know at GNS Science when they need GeoNet data, does that mean we are not doing a very good job of letting you know the data we have and the tools to get those data? Ideally, we’d like you to use the data tools we’ve made. Let’s dive in to why we’d like to encourage you to do that.

A single source of truth

If there’s only one thing you take away from this blog, it’s the concept of a “single source of truth” when applied to data. The idea is that there is one place where the “original” copy of data is held. In our case, that place is typically what supplies our data delivery tools – the things you can find listed beneath the “Data Access” drop down on our website. If you get data from one of those tools, then you can be sure the data are coming from the single source of truth. In effect, this makes our tools the “official” source of GeoNet data.

If someone gives you a copy of GeoNet data, no matter how well intentioned they are, what happens if the data changes? Maybe GeoNet finds a “problem” with the data and corrects it. Does the person who gave you the unofficial copy even know the data has changed? If they do, will they give you an updated copy?

It’s undoubtedly a rare case, but if you use GeoNet data for making a decision that affects others, then it’s surely safer to grab data from the single source of truth through an official data tool.

And there are other reasons

There are other reasons why we think you should use our official data delivery tools:

  • Our tools are made to be robust and able to be maintained by more than one of our experts. What happens when your friend is on holiday?

  • You’ll get a consistent format every time you receive data from us. And, if there’s an internationally recognised data format for those data, then that’s what we’ll give you.

  • You might learn something new. If you use one of our official tools there will be a “learning curve”, even if it’s just working out how to use a web GUI (graphical user interface). But we hope by doing that you’ll gain a little more understanding of the data itself.

  • If we’ve created a tool to deliver data but no one uses it, we’ll likely find it more difficult to justify creating further tools. If a new tool is used, it makes our efforts seem more worthwhile!

What about you?

Have you ever “phoned a friend” to get GeoNet data? If so, we would like to hear from you. There might be something we aren’t doing well, and we’d like your help to find out what that is.

That’s it for now

That ends our brief discussion on why we encourage you to use our official data tools. You can find all our blog posts through the News section on our web page, just select the Data Blog filter before hitting the Search button.

We welcome your feedback on this data blog and if there are any GeoNet data topics you’d like us to talk about please let us know! Ngā mihi nui.