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More about our WSA-shortlisted project, the DWQAR Legal Data Library

Developed in collaboration with Taumata Arowai, New Zealand's central drinking water regulator, the DWQAR Legal Data Library plays a significant role in supporting water quality management in New Zealand.

Recently recognised on the 2023 World Summit Awards shortlist, the project addresses essential challenges for both water suppliers and regulators. It offers practical tools for water suppliers to understand their regulatory obligations and provides regulators with a digital infrastructure for effective data management, analysis, and compliance enforcement across various systems.

Our solution, beyond mere digitisation, translates the Drinking Water Quality Assurance Rules (DWQAR) into an accessible format for seamless implementation across various digital platforms.

Supporting Suppliers and Regulators to Manage Regulatory Data

The Drinking Water Quality Assurance Rules are a comprehensive and multifaceted piece of secondary legislation, applying different "modules" to varied types of suppliers. Originally published as a single PDF, these rules could present navigation challenges for suppliers, which might contribute to misunderstandings or inconsistencies in rule interpretation. One risk is that suppliers might submit inconsistent data, or worse, omit crucial data – factors that could contribute to unsafe drinking water and unreliable reporting.

To address these challenges, Syncopate Lab (as a partnership between Brainbox Institute and Verb) undertook a meticulous manual process to translate these rules into machine-readable formats for specific uses. In close partnership with Taumata Arowai, we checked the accuracy and reliability of this transformation.

Our efforts have resulted in the creation of interoperable assets that enhance both reporting systems and data analysis capabilities. These assets enable the conversion of rules into various formats, including rule builders, API specifications, and data structures, thereby informing and improving the algorithmic analysis of compliance data.

Highlights of the DWQAR Legal Data Library:

  • Rule Builder Interface: Our rule builder allows users to select and view only the regulations that are relevant to their specific operations, simplifying compliance.

  • Functional Version Tracing: In its in-house version, Taumata Arowai can verify that each rule is accurately traced back to its original source in the DWQAR or other legislation for verification and compliance purposes.

  • Hyperlinked Regulations and Reporting Lines: Regulations and reporting requirements are hyperlinked for quick navigation, making the understanding and application of rules more efficient.

  • Self-Contained Browser Page: The entire system is accessible through a single, self-contained browser page ensuring ease of use and accessibility.

  • Editable and Updateable Data Sources: The underlying data sources, primarily CSV files, can be easily edited and updated by non-technical staff, ensuring the system stays current with regulatory changes.

  • Rule IDs & Search Function: Each regulation is assigned a unique ID, and our search function enables quick and easy location of specific rules.

  • Example Report Generation: The library assists in generating sample reports in formats compliant with Taumata Arowai's API requirements, streamlining the reporting process.

  • Automated SQL Query Generation: This feature automates the process of creating SQL queries, enabling efficient and accurate data extraction and reporting.

  • Digital Report Format & Spreadsheet Integration: Our solution includes a digital reporting format that integrates seamlessly with Excel, facilitating easy data entry and manipulation.

  • Open Source Potential and Interoperable: Designed with open-source potential in mind, our system can be adapted and expanded by other developers and organisations.

This transformation not only increases the efficiency and accuracy of water quality reporting but also has the potential to significantly reduce the compliance burden on both large and small suppliers. By working toward a systematic and consistent understanding of the rules, our system mitigates risks associated with unsafe drinking water, data inconsistency, and compliance challenges.

The DWQAR Legal Data Library shapes systems in use by every water supplier in New Zealand. You can access a public version of the tool here:

Expanding Collaborations in Digital Regulatory Solutions

Looking to the future, Syncopate Lab is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate with private sector organisations and government bodies involved in:

  • reporting or receiving substantial volumes of regulatory data; or

  • in the process of designing or implementing regulatory systems that will be primarily complied with using software.

Our expertise in digitising complex regulatory frameworks and creating user-friendly, efficient, and accurate reporting systems positions us to support such entities in navigating the intricacies of regulatory compliance. We are committed to extending our impact, leveraging our technological innovations to assist in the development of more efficient, transparent, and compliant regulatory environments.

We hope to publish a longer case study explaining the legal and technical components of the work shortly, or you can contact us for more information.


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