New Zealand has failed to make the top 20 in a worldwide evaluation of e-government products and services.
Australia comes third in the list, behind only the US and Taiwan. New Zealand ranks 26th out of the total of 196 countries surveyed.
The table of overall services is a key feature of the survey, published by the London-based World Markets Research Centre (WMRC) and Brown University in the US state of Rhode Island. The survey arrives at an overall point score for a country by evaluating 22 factors of its government websites, including contact information, publications, accessible databases, executable applications, links to other sites, use of audio and video, published privacy and security policies, credit-card payment facilities, a link to a portal and access for disabled users.
New Zealand does, however, rank much higher in some individual basic categories such as the proportion of government websites offering some kind of online service, if only the ability to order brochures. Here New Zealand comes sixth, with 48%, but is beaten by the Cook Islands at 50%.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand e-government development machine grinds on. The biggest development in recent weeks is the completion of the meta data definition, which will allow agencies to set up and use a consistent way of describing the documents and resources they provide — a crucial underlying feature for the planned common portal.
The standard is a modification of the Australian Government Locator Service (AGLS) and is known, logically, as the NZGLS. It uses the same 19 core elements as AGLS (publisher, title, format and so forth) with some being linked to lists specifically adapted to terms as used by New Zealand government agencies.
For the portal itself, a prototype is being developed, “to find what look, navigation and content work best for a broad cross-section of New Zealanders”, says the e-government unit’s latest newsletter. Selection of a provider is in progress, with the portal expected to be up and running by June next year.
Interoperability, the feature that will allow several agencies to supply parts of a service appearing unified to the user, or let one agency feed from another’s information or use the same applications, is being discussed by working groups.