News Archive (Pre-2018)


Meet the Team: CSDA Senior Research Fellow Matt Walsh

December 22, 2017

Ethics are an important debate for any government agency considering using people’s data but CSDA Senior Research Fellow Matt Walsh says agencies also need to consider their responsibility to create and fund programmes that work.

“It is important for organisations to step back and realise they are already making decisions that impact people’s lives, for instance about what programmes to fund or how to allocate limited resources, so they should use the data available to make the best decisions they can.”

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CSDA eNews - December 2017

December 22, 2017

CSDA’s research and analytics tools are used by local and international agencies to support smart policy and sound decision-making in areas including health and social welfare. This issue: CSDA co-director named as MSD’s Chief Economist, Marsden funding for ethics framework, greater accuracy from revised family screening tool and our CSDA team profile: research fellow Bénédicte Rouland.

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Meet the Team: CSDA Research Fellow Bénédicte Rouland

December 12, 2017

CSDA research fellow Bénédicte Rouland is focused on extracting meaningful answers about child welfare from the swathes of information held in New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI).

Bénédicte, who holds a PhD in economics from the University of Le Mans, describes the IDI as a huge administrative database that contains de-identified (anonymous), detailed information about the New Zealand population (including data on health, justice, benefits and social services, education, migration).

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Registrations open for 3rd Annual CSDA Workshop

December 12, 2017

The programme is set and registrations are open for the third annual CSDA Workshop: “Applied Economics Papers on Child and Youth Outcomes”.  The workshop is taking place on February 15 and 16, 2018 at Auckland University of Technology (City Campus).

The keynote speaker is Heather Royer from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Participants will hear thirteen research presentations from researchers at New Zealand and Australian universities.  The research selected for presentation touches on a diverse range of topics relevant to child and youth outcomes, including the following:  child disadvantage, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), child mortality, parental language barriers, tertiary education and financial aid.

Read the event programme for details on how to register, and more information about presentations.

Promising results from pilot survey on junior doctor wellbeing

December 12, 2017

The researchers behind a workplace wellbeing survey tool are looking forward to full rollout of the tool in 2018 after a successful pilot survey of junior doctors in Wessex, South England in November.

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CSDA takes Danish experts behind the scenes of US projects

November 28, 2017

Danish child welfare experts and researchers with an interest in the use of predictive risk modelling travelled to the US in November to join a study tour led by CSDA Co-Director Rhema Vaithianathan.

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Tim Maloney named MSD Chief Economist

November 3, 2017

CSDA co-director Professor Tim Maloney has become the first Chief Economist at the Ministry of Social Development, a position he will hold until November 2019.

The newly created role demonstrates the Ministry’s interest in bringing a strong economics focus to its work, especially in relation to the labour market.

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3rd Workshop of the Centre for Social Data Analytics

October 27, 2017

In February 2018, the Centre for Social Data Analytics will host our third workshop. The focus for this year's workshop is child and youth outcomes. We are very pleased to host Heather Royer (University of California, Santa Barbara) as the keynote speaker.

For more information about the workshop and submissions, please see here.

CSDA co-director addresses US National Academies’ expert meeting

October 4, 2017

CSDA co-director Rhema Vaithianathan travelled to Washington DC recently to address a US expert meeting about the future of predictive analytics for human services.

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Promising interest in British junior doctor wellbeing study

September 19, 2017

Junior doctors in Winchester, South England made the most of a recent meeting with researchers studying their wellbeing, including Rhema Vaithianathan, co-director of CSDA.

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Meet the Team: CSDA’s US Project Manager Emily Kulick

August 31, 2017

For CSDA’s US project manager Emily Kulick the most exciting aspect of her job is seeing the practical application of predictive risk models in a way that makes a difference in people’s lives.

Kulick, who began working for CSDA at the end of last year, is the vital link between the NZ-based research team who develop the predictive risk models and the US agencies who are using the models to improve decision-making in their organisations.

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Getting the Best out of Big Data:  A Conversation

August 1, 2017

CSDA Co-Director Rhema Vaithianathan will talk about the risks and opportunities of big data as part of a panel conversation at AUT City Campus on Thursday 3 August.

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Rhema at Refactor:  Building Movements not Monuments

July 28, 2017

CSDA Co-Director Rhema Vaithianathan spoke recently at Refactor, a regular event that aims to improve the New Zealand tech industry by “inspiring women to not only stay in it but get to the top”.

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Child Protection and the Promise of Predictive Analytics

July 7, 2017

In a recently published research paper, CSDA co-director Rhema Vaithianathan and co-authors argue the case of predictive risk modelling as an alternative to existing methods of screening and triaging children and their families in cases of alleged maltreatment and neglect.

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CSDA Co-director appointed to Integrated Data Advisory Group

June 15, 2017

Statistics New Zealand has appointed CSDA co-director Tim Maloney to the government’s existing Integrated Data Advisory Group (IDAG), which will advise the department on how to best promote the use of integrated (linked) data.

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CSDA eNews - May 2017

May 23, 2017

CSDA is growing fast and we’re excited to see our work beginning to make a real difference and our research helping to inform policy and planning. In this issue of CSDA eNews - our latest research insights, CSDA data scientist Diana Benavides Prado explains her prediction risk modelling work, and a snapshot of our new projects in the UK, US and NZ.

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Meet the Team: CSDA data scientist Diana Benavides Prado

May 18, 2017

Data scientist Diana Benavides Prado joined CSDA last year and her current focus is on improving the accuracy of the Allegheny Family Screening Tool, which has been implemented by Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services in the US to help child protection staff in making referral decisions.

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Developing the Allegheny Family Screening Tool

April 27, 2017

A report on the methodology of the Allegheny Family Screening Tool is now available on Allegheny County’s website. This report details the considerations and decisions made during the development and implementation of the tool, providing a snapshot of the project at its current status.

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Researchers find Teen Parent Units have positive impact

April 12, 2017

New Zealand teenage mothers with access to Teen Parent Units (TPUs) had better educational outcomes than those with no access, according to empirical research co-authored by AUT economists.

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Rhema Vaithianathan: Data - the heavy lifting can be done blind

April 7, 2017

Rightly, the idea of our personal data being collected or passed on, without our permission, has a tendency to spark alarm in New Zealand. But the good news is that, when it comes to data analytics, we can achieve an astonishing amount without the need for personalised data.

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CSDA workshop features empirical economic papers on children and youth

March 20, 2017

In February 2017, the Centre for Social Data Analytics hosted our second workshop. We enjoyed presentations from local and international researchers on the topic of children and youth.

Presentations from the workshop are available here.

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CSDA workshop features empirical economic papers on children and youth

March 20, 2017

In February 2017, the Centre for Social Data Analytics hosted our second workshop. We enjoyed presentations from local and international researchers on the topic of children and youth.

Read the full story.

Workshop explores approaches to Impact Evaluation

February 24, 2017

In February CSDA hosted a workshop on impact evaluation for New Zealand government officials.

Two Danish scientists led the workshop:  Dr Hans Henrik Sievertsen from the Danish National Centre for Social Research and Professor Michael Rosholm from TrygFonden’s Centre for Child Research, Aarhus University.

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Using Integrated Data for Social Sector Policy and Practice

February 22, 2017

On 22nd February 2016, the CSDA with the support of the Ministry of Social Development hosted a conference on the use of integrated data. A selection of presentations made at the event can be found below. See an overview of the event here.

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Research explains racial differences in maltreatment reporting

February 20, 2017

The age and marital status of parents explains racial disparities in Child Protective Service (CPS) involvement, according to a study co-authored by Tim Maloney and Rhema Vaithianathan.

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2nd Workshop of the Centre for Social Data Analytics

December 16, 2016

In February 2017, the Centre for Social Data Analytics will host our second workshop. The focus for this year's workshop is children and youth, and we have a spectacular program of empirical economic papers lined up.

We look forward to welcoming our keynote speakers, Michael Rosholm from Aarhus University and Abigail Payne from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

Rhema Vaithianathan: Big Data, Smaller Bureaucracy

October 19, 2016

By 2040 Big Data should have shrunk the public sector beyond recognition.

The age of Big Data has come to consumers rapidly, reinventing how we shop, socialise, bank and get from A to B.  And a Big Data revolution is slowly rolling through the public sector too.

If we do this right, in 20 years or so the Government ministries that currently employ thousands, and sprawl across Central Wellington should each fit into a small Thorndon villa.

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Research fellow opportunities at CSDA

October 12, 2016

CSDA is looking for additional research fellows to join teams working on diverse data analytics research projects in New Zealand and worldwide.

Current projects focus on evaluating and improving the social impact of Education, Health, Family and Child Welfare interventions.

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CSDA display at INTERACT launchCSDA part of INTERACT Centre of Technology Excellence

July 28, 2016

The Centre for Social Data Analytics (CSDA) is proud to be a part of the INTERACT Centre of Technology Excellence, which launched in July with a showcase of research at Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

INTERACT seeks to drive the use of big data and analytics in New Zealand, and provide opportunities for IT and data science graduates. Hosted by AUT, the centre is a collaboration of experts and researchers from several New Zealand universities, local organisations, and multinational partners.

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Inspiring interest in the potential of linked data, worldwide

July 18, 2016

A core value of the Centre for Social Data Analytics (CSDA) is to share knowledge on the use of linked administrative data for positive social impact. CSDA Co-Director, Rhema Vaithianathan is actively involved in educational events worldwide on the potential of linked data.

In June 2016, Vaithianathan traveled to Centennial, Colorado to present at a predictive analytics event hosted by Casey Family Programs and the Colorado Human Services Directors Association. In July, Vaithianathan visited Nesta (a charitable organisation supporting innovation worldwide) in London and led a round-table discussion on the use of predictive analytics in child services.

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AUT research leads to multi-million boost for home visiting programme

May 31, 2016

An annual $7 million funding boost for the Government’s ‘Family Start’ home visiting programme was prompted by empirical research commissioned from AUT’s Centre for Social Data Analytics (CSDA).

In announcing that Family Start funding will be increased by $7.3 million per annum from October 2016, Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley referenced the Family Start evaluation led by Professor Rhema Vaithianathan, co-director of the CSDA.

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New research centre focused on data for decision-making

April 6, 2016

AUT’s new Centre for Social Data Analytics was launched in March.  The Centre is focused on “data analytics for social impact”.

Centre researchers take on work with the potential to address and inform social issues or challenges in core policy areas including health, education, justice and social services.

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Research identifies positive impacts of Family Start

February 19, 2016

Babies in the Family Start home visiting programme have a lower risk of Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI) than babies not in the programme, say researchers.

A research team led by AUT health economist Professor Rhema Vaithianathan, a director of the AUT Centre for Social Data Analytics,  has completed the first ever impact evaluation of Family Start,published by the Ministry of Social Development this week.

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