21 February 2022
Phillipa Martin

Welcome to the first in our series of blogs documenting the process of creating a Rules as Code repository for New Zealand as part of the Digital Aotearoa Collective initiative.

About Digital Aotearoa Collective

Digital Aotearoa Collective (DAC) is an open collaboration initiative that aims to deliver citizen benefits in New Zealand (Aotearoa is Maori for New Zealand). The goal is to co-create digital foundations that transform NZ.

The DAC is inspired by GovZero TaiwanExternal Link , a CivicTech community focused on “transparency, open results and open cooperation”.

Currently, DAC has three main projects:

  1. OPFutures — Exploring different 50-year optimistic and pessimistic futures for NZ and making them publicly accessible via a public commons

  2. Service Aotearoa — Creating a demo version of Service Aotearoa

  3. Rules as Code (RaC) — Setting up an open source repository of legislation and regulation as code (using OpenFisca) with use cases

The RaC and OPFutures projects will also be part of the Service Aotearoa demo.

Salsa’s contribution

After reaching out to speak to Pia AndrewsExternal Link about all things digital government, Salsa’s Founding Director Alfred Deeb discovered the DAC project. Pia is one of the program leaders.

“There is so much that the community can bring to better public services and policies. A grassroots initiative like this could be quite an exciting example of participatory governance, and how to democratise digital public infrastructure for the benefit of all.”

Pia Andrews
Digital government aficionado

As an open government advocate, Alfred was keen to get involved! Alfred made an initial donation to the project, but also committed to contributing Salsarians to the DAC team. In February, Alfred pledged 24 hours per week across three senior team members for 2022. The team members are:

The Rules as Code project

Pia found a spot for us on the Rules as Code deliverable. We’re now working with a team of RaC and open government aficionados. We’re focused on codifying New Zealand’s Social Security Act 2018, as well as other key citizen services, such as applying for a passport, applying for citizenship and applying for a temporary visa.

The goal is to make these services more accessible to all, and to make it easy for NZ citizens to find out if they’re eligible for social security benefits.

How to turn legislation into Rules as Code

The existing team had already set up a great system using a Miro board to start the codifying process. Learn more about the process in our next blog in this series, How to turn legislation into Rules As Code.

What is Rules as Code?

Rules as Code (RaC) takes legislation, regulations and policies and turns them into machine-readable code so they can be understood and interpreted by computers. For more about RaC, see our Rules as Code blog.