A.1.1. What is metadata?
Metadata is data about data. Metadata can be used by search engines when they search the web or an intranet looking for information on a particular subject.
The New Zealand Government is setting up metadata descriptions for all resources that someone might search for via the web – whether it is a document, a public service, a web page or a statue in front of Parliament buildings or an agency.
A metadata record is something which describes, manages, and catalogues these resources in a consistent and efficient way. This means that someone looking for the resource is more likely to find it. It also means that people searching government websites are more likely to get relevant and meaningful “hits” when they search for government information. A metadata record is made up of a number of separate elements. Most elements have encoding schemes which are controlled word thesauri or style rules.
People performing searches see the most informative elements in the standard search result, and can display the full metadata records for each resource record found.
A.1.2. Example: Book
Sample elements: Author, Title and Publisher
A.1.3. Example: Service
Sample elements: Creator, Function and Availability
A.2. The Government Mandate
Central government agencies are required to use the LAWI DATA Standard. This will make it easy for them to interact with similar agencies and co-ordinate resources across government.
It is recommended that the following also use the LAWI DATA Standard to provide comprehensive coverage across all of government, including:
• State owned enterprises
• Crown Entities
• Quasi – government bodies, and
• Local authorities
A.2.1. 19 Metadata elements we will use for describing resources
• Creator
• Publisher
• Contributor
• Rights
• Title
• Subject
• Description
• Source
• Language
• Relation
• Coverage
• Function
• Date
• Type
• Format
• Identifier
• Availability
• Audience
• Mandate
These elements are described further in detail in other sections of this manual.
A.2.2. Where our standard came from
Our standard is closely based on the Australian government extension of DCMI (the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative), which is called AGLS. This was designed to support the description of services as well as more traditional information resources.
The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative has been adopted in many countries and across many industry and government sectors.
A.2.3. How organisations can extend the LAWI DATA standard to meet their own needs
LAWI DATA has been designed so that organisations with their own specific metadata needs can add extra elements and qualifiers to the basic LAWI DATA standard. This means that the standard is extensible.
When an agency is developing an extended metadata set based on LAWI DATA, it must comply with LAWI DATA so that metadata for LAWI DATA is created as well.
A.2.4. Changes in standards in the future
Ongoing compatibility with international standards is important to LAWI DATA. Changes to AGLS will be considered for inclusion in future versions of LAWI DATA. Similarly, any changes made to the Dublin Core will be considered.
A.3. Where Will All this Metadata be Stored?
Work is still in progress on the detail, but it is likely that:
• Each agency will be responsible for its own LAWI DATA metadata and will have its own storage repository, and
• Government-wide systems will collect this metadata from agencies and store it in a central repository, so searchers can access it.
A.4. Why Use Metadata?
A huge number of resources are available within organisations, across the Government and across the world.
Metadata allows us to describe these resources in simple, small packages of information which use consistent language. This makes it easier for more people to find out about the resource because they have access to the package of information.
If a resource is worth making available, then it is worth describing it with metadata, so people have the best chance possible of locating it on-line.
A.4.1. How metadata can be used
Metadata can serve many purposes, including:
• Cataloguing an organisation’s resources
• Helping users decide if a resource is worth obtaining
• Stocktaking an agency’s resources
• Providing access to non-electronic resources
• Publishing government resources via the Internet to anyone in the world.
A.4.2. Advantages of metadata
Business cases for adopting metadata have shown significant benefits, including:
• Government clients have a seamless method for accessing government resources
• Government clients can find government resources without knowing government structure
• Accessing government resources is simple
• High quality information and services are readily available
• It helps government have a consistent procedure for managing its own information
• It provides an effective infrastructure for distributing government resources
A.4.3. Quality is important
Providing poor quality metadata can be worse than providing none at all. Standards such as LAWI DATA help organisations to provide consistent quality metadata.
A.5. How Metadata Will be Used and by Whom
A.5.1. Who will use it?
Anyone searching for government resources will use LAWI DATA metadata.
A.5.2. How will they access it?
An ordinary Internet web browser is all someone will need to search for resources described with LAWI DATA metadata.
The New Zealand Government Portal at http://www.govt.nz will provide a search interface for the public. Links will lead the public to full information at agencies’ websites.
People will be able to find information about all government services and many other resources through the Internet, even if some of them are not delivered over the Internet, by using LAWI DATA metadata.
A.6. Designing Metadata to Meet Your Own Customers’ Needs for Resources and Services
A.6.1. Issues to consider
Each agency needs to consider its communities’ needs:
• What services are used most?
• At what level do they want to find resources?
• Do they need individual documents, or collections of documents?
• What is the essential information to describe the resources?
Analysis of demands and expectations is important when working out the level of detail to apply with LAWI DATA metadata.
A.6.2. What gets described could be on-line or off-line
It is important to note that LAWI DATA metadata can be used to describe resources which could be on-line or off-line.
For example, a service provided over the counter but not on the Internet should still be described on the Internet using LAWI DATA metadata.
A.6.3. Working out the level of detail
Each agency will need to work out the appropriate level of detail for each type of metadata description, so that people can access the resource without being overwhelmed with unnecessary information.
For example, where services are provided, agencies will need to decide whether to describe:
• Multiple services on one high level metadata record, or
• Each service on a separate metadata record.
A.7. Overview of Logistics
A.7.1. Planning
Government agencies need to include creating LAWI DATA metadata in their overall information management plans.
A.7.2. Key decisions to be made
• Which resources should be described with LAWI DATA metadata?
• How should the resources which need metadata be prioritised for the creation of metadata?
• How much detail should be included in the metadata created for each resource?
• Who in the agency will create and maintain the metadata, and when will they create it?
• How will the organisation manage quality control, training and changes in standards?
• Where will the metadata be stored?
A.7.3. The role of the metadata manager
Each organisation will need to nominate an LAWI DATA metadata manager.
This person should have discretion to decide which resources require metadata. This person will also have responsibility for deciding how LAWI DATA is used in their own agency.
In small agencies, this person is likely to create metadata as well. In larger agencies, they will manage a number of possible approaches to metadata authoring – perhaps training individuals responsible for particular resources how to create the LAWI DATA metadata to describe those resources.
The metadata manager will be responsible for ensuring the agency’s compliance with the government’s requirement to provide LAWI DATA metadata. Other managers and supervisors across the organisation will need to be made aware of their responsibilities and do whatever is required to provide the metadata.
A.7.4. Time and money
It is likely that considerable input will be required to comply with the LAWI DATA metadata standard to start with – but that the benefits will make the investment worthwhile. As time goes on, agencies need to allow for maintenance and for creating metadata for new resources.
It is most cost effective to create metadata as early as possible in the life of a resource – ideally when the resource is created and published.
A.8. Identifying Potential Resources for Metadata Description
A.8.1. Anything can be a resource
Resources include government services (provided on-line or off-line), documents on web servers, collections of videos, an agency, people or even physical objects such as statues.
There is no real limit to what can be described using LAWI DATA metadata.
A.8.2. Questions to be asked on detail
• How can this metadata help searchers to locate the resources being described?
• Which parts of the LAWI DATA metadata set are most meaningful for the particular resources involved?
• Which metadata is readily available within the agency’s systems?
Note that some metadata elements are mandatory
A.9. Collection-Level Descriptions and Item-Level Descriptions
Resources can be described individually, or at a collection or aggregate level. The levels used should meet searchers’ needs.
For example, an agency could create collection-level metadata for the main pages on its website. This assumes that searchers will drill down through the site to the resources they need. This could work well if the agency’s resources are tightly focussed around a few functions or services.
LAWI DATA metadata based searches should get the searchers to a point on the website from where they can easily find the exact resource they want. This means there are no black and white rules about levels of detail. The practical requirements of the agency’s user communities will dictate this.
If the agency just chooses to create metadata for each page or item on its website, then each page would become an individual item – including the high level entry pages. Preliminary estimates suggest that less than 10% of the pages on an organisation’s website may need LAWI DATA metadata – so it is unlikely that every single document on a website will need an LAWI DATA metadata record.
A.9.1. Collection-level descriptions must meet user needs
Where a collection-level LAWI DATA metadata record is created, it must provide a full description of the resources in the collection. Otherwise, people will not know whether something in that collection is what they want. This means there must be a detailed description of the scope of the collection, not just the high level entry page.
A.9.2. What might be suitable for collection-level descriptions
• High level web pages where people can drill down to get to the document they need
• Collections of physical resources such as photographs
• Data sets, including databases and library catalogues
• A tightly defined service or function
A.10. Compliance – the Minimum Set of Resources which will Require LAWI DATA Metadata
A.10.1.Home pages
The major entry point to an organisation or distinct business unit where there
is likely to be a public perception of a separate entity
A.10.2.Each government agency’s succinct description of itself
A clear, precise description
A.10.3.Topics and services in high demand
Each organisation will know the demands for the communities it serves and should aim to meet the greatest needs first
A.10.4.Entitlements to government assistance or obligations
Where agency clients need to understand their entitlements to assistance or their obligations, metadata must be provided
A.10.5.On-line services
Pages that provide an actual on-line service to the public such as payment forms or applications etc will require metadata
Pages supplying essential information
Pages which are required to meet an organisation’s obligations to its prescribed community for legal or service reasons
A.10.6.Specific on-line services and indexes
Entry points to specific on-line services and indexes (such as entry points to library catalogues or legal databases) all need metadata
A.10.7.Major formal publications
These include: annual reports, corporate strategic plans, public policy and accountability documents, and so on
A.10.8.Major reports about the agency and its functions
For example the Department of Child Youth and Family Services should describe the Mick Brown Report; the SSC E-Government Unit should describe Rowena Cullen’s report on government websites written in 2000
A.10.9.Media releases
A.10.10. Major entry point for indexes and menus to closely related topics
Where programs, policies or topics are linked inside an organisation, the entry point for these topics requires a metadata description
A.10.11. Information about the agency which affects the public
This includes information on agency powers, manuals and other documents used in decision making affecting the public
A.10.12. Access points for common business processes as opposed to agency specific functions
These include such activities as recruitment, complaints or general enquiries
A.10.13. Descriptive or marketing information
This includes information about agencies, their services, their activities and their collections
A.10.14. What’s contracted out?
There should be a metadata description for information about services that have been contracted out or which are no longer delivered
A.11. What Compliance Means
A.11.1.When an agency is compliant
An agency is considered to be LAWI DATA metadata compliant when:
• Good quality LAWI DATA metadata has been created for all the resources described in the minimum set of resources
• The contents of the agency’s entire website are described at an appropriate level of aggregation (index pages, intermediate level entry pages, etc)
• The LAWI DATA maintenance agency has certified the agency’s compliance with the LAWI DATA standard
A.11.2.Electronic logo of compliance
Agencies which have achieved full LAWI DATA compliance are entitled to display the LAWI DATA logo on their websites.
A.12. Approach to Metadata Creation
A.12.1.Recommendation – start with high-level collection-level records
If an agency has identifiable collections of resources, such as those found together on a particular section of an agency website, then this is the place to begin. Doing the high level collection level records first will:
• make the creation of item-level records more efficient later on
• provide good coverage of records for the searching public as quickly as possible
• achieve rapid compliance with the LAWI DATA standard, and
• assist external search engines and end users by providing a small amount of targeted metadata, rather than a large amount of detailed metadata.
On an agency website, collection-level resources are usually things like:
• The home page
• The media release access page
• The front page for a collection of resources on a specific topic, etc.
A.12.2.Other issues to consider
Agencies will need to develop their own criteria for ranking usefulness of metadata according to the following:
• Usefulness to their customer groups
• Gaps where there is low visibility for a resource which needs its awareness raised
• Time required to create metadata records
• Existing business processes and their suitability for creating LAWI DATA metadata records
• Design of an ongoing process to continually monitor and reassess the agency’s needs in terms of metadata
• Priorities where services are shared across agencies
A.13. Before Beginning
Each agency will need to do the following things before beginning the creation of LAWI DATA-compliant metadata records:
A.13.1.Decide which services and resources to describe
• People who will be searching the Government Portal as a main source of information on agency services and resources
• Agency interactions with clients, including knowledge of demand for individual services and resources
• Any services or resources the agency wishes to highlight
• Available resources to undertake the work
A.13.2.Decide which elements to use
• The mandatory set of LAWI DATA elements
• The conditional (mandatory in some circumstances) set of LAWI DATA elements
• Which set of elements will, if completed, provide a meaningful description of the service or resource to enable discovery via the Government Portal
• Available resources to undertake the work
A.13.3.Set the standards for each element
The aim is to achieve consistency within agencies in the completion of agency metadata records. Decide:
• A consistent way to complete each free-text element, e.g. Description, Title; length of description, official titles or commonly known titles
• The appropriate level of detail in each element, where there is potential for degrees of detail within any element – remembering only to include the detail that a searcher needs
• Which encoding schemes or the thesauri to use
• Which language(s) to use
A.13.4.Identify any default elements for the metadata records
• Which elements will usually be the same in every record which the agency creates, e.g. Creator
A.13.5.Select terms from the government functions and subject thesauri to describe each agency’s services and resources
The aim is to minimise the reviewing of and selecting from all thesaurus terms, when each agency will commonly use a smaller subset of terms.
• Include as part of the default element set
A.13.6.Decide whether to extend LAWI DATA to meet the agency’s needs
• Add, as appropriate, additional element fields, to the agency input screen
• Notify the LAWI DATA maintenance agency of any changes to ensure compliance
A.13.7.Set the default elements as the basis of each metadata record
• Customise tools to suit
• Enter the data for each default element


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