In what has felt like an eternity the New Zealand Government has finally announced details of the official investigation they are undertaking to review public data that MetService and NIWA now use for their own commercial gains – at the expense of those who fund them.
It’s been over 25 years since the New Zealand Government last seriously looked into weather data – and a ruling that WeatherWatch.co.nz recently uncovered by the Commerce Commission in the 1990s has not only helped fuel the Government data investigation, but has also energised the Commerce Commission into looking back into this.
Nothing like using the Government’s own words to help with a current investigation.
In the 1990s Commerce Commission ruling all public data should be made freely available – but over the years both MetService and NIWA sales and management have quietly added huge delays into accessing the data, therefore making it unusable – for example NIWA delaying access to public data when it’s 24 hours old, or MetService giving us rain radar data AFTER a potentially deadly thunderstorm has passed.
No other western nation treats public weather data with such disregard or place such a commercial focus on it for a select few – for example, the CEO of NIWA John Morgan earns 620K a year as a ‘public servant’ yet “refused” under Official Information Act request recently to deny that he personally gets financially rewarded for withholding public data. Does this truly sound like how a Crown Research Institute of science should operate – and their CEO? Do they sound like they are focused on you, the everyday New Zealander?
No other country on earth has two tax funded weather forecasters directly competing with each other let alone public scientific research centres that operate more like large financial institutes, boasting their big profits while putting the screws on the little guy.
The investigation looks very detailed, which even surprised us.
We want to thank Minister Joyce and his Office for “tolerating” our many emails over the year – and for appreciating the seriousness of what we have been publicly fighting for.
We also want to thank Minister Peter Dunne of United Future and MP Clare Curran of Labour who have helped with support and to show everyone that we have cross party support – no one political party is with or against us on this topic.
There is no outcome we can predict – but we are pleased to have the public investigation taking place.
The Investigation is being undertaken by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.
Part of the reason MBIE is reviewing this, is due to our complaints that each time we have an innovative new way to present alread paid for public data MetService or NIWA want to excessively charge us, sometimes 3 times for the exact same data.
For example, recently MetService wanted to charge us to display tax funded rain radar images on our website (free in all western nations but they wanted $50,000), then double that fee to use on our App and triple that fee to use in our Videos – simply because we didn’t want to be dull in displaying the images. All of this falls under the same digital platform and their triple charging completely kills innovation in New Zealand – especially when it’s entirely free to innovate with this same public weather data in every single other western nation on earth.
NIWA TOLD TO PULL THEIR HEADS IN
People who follow @WeatherWatchNZ on Twitter may have been stunned to have seen us in Winter publicly asking for NIWA to reply to us. This was following a big media statement the second Government forecaster put out, which contradicted a forecast MetService put out. We politely asked NIWA for comment on the stats they had provided, both via email and via Twitter – where they were actively engaged with the public already.
For a full day NIWA ignored us – so we lodged a complaint with Minister Joyce’s office, as they had requested us to do. NIWA then ignored the Ministers Office – which lead us to Twitter and publicly asking just what the heck was going on.
Minister Joyce’s office has confirmed to WeatherWatch.co.nz that they called NIWA and told them this behaviour was unacceptable. “…your queries (and my follow up queries with them) resulted in a phone conversation between myself and NIWA management where I made clear the expectations of the Minister’s office in the way they engage with important stakeholders and members of the public. I hope you see a change in the their pattern of correspondence” wrote Minister Joyce’s Senior Advisor, Andrew Falloon, to WeatherWatch.co.nz.
We air this so the public can see even when we play by the rules we are being unfairly treated by both NIWA and MetService – and we appreciate this transparent investigation stepping in to shed some sunlight on this.