Lightning Lab GovTech

Better, faster, stronger government

Lightning Lab GovTech looks to cement Wellington’s position as leaders of the GovTech space globally, with a view to transforming the way governments work digitally.

Lightning Lab GovTech is an opportunity to rapidly build, test, validate and experiment with new approaches and technologies to enable truly extraordinary government.

The 2018 accelerator’s projects range from digital inclusion and security, environmental conservation, youth engagement, financial independence and accessibility.

We will be working closely with government agencies to continue NZ’s GovTech success story and NZ’s digital government transformation.

Brett Holland, Head of Acceleration at Creative HQ

As New Zealand’s tech capital, home to both government and the country’s most innovative digital businesses, Wellington is the ideal centre for driving the leading edge of GovTech forwards.

David Jones, WREDA


Department of Internal Affairs

Digital rights and inclusion, the digital economy and a digital strategy for NZ are all key government priorities.

A foundational piece for all of these is digital identity. A modern digital identity approach, which ensures that citizens are in control of their data, is at the core of all online services and transactions in the public and private sector. This project will explore the user requirements of digital identity through a specific use case and prototype and will benefit at least one private sector provider. Outputs will inform broader government work on how the use, provision and re-use of a digital identity can be improved system-wide.

Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education is committed to eliminating the digital divide for school-age students and is actively working on solutions to improve access to connectivity and technology to ensure all students can fully engage in an increasingly digitally-enabled education system.

Connecting student homes to the internet creates an opportunity for other social agencies in the health and housing sectors to deliver digital services to the rest of the household. This project will focus on one
part of the digital divide in NZ to explore whether a single, integrated connectivity solution can meet the needs of households interacting with various government agencies. It aims to make the business case for each agency more attractive and remove barriers for the uptake of commercial services into those homes.

Ministry for the Environment and Takiwā

Under pressure from years of population growth and changes in land- use, the Ministry for the Environment is working to reduce the stress on freshwater quality and remediate freshwater bodies wherever possible.

This joint Ministry for the Environment and Takiwā project aims to draw on combined data-sets (from councils, iwi and scientists) to provide insights and a communication platform to improve the management of freshwater. It hopes to show a more integrated view from multiple data-driven perspectives.

Taiwan Water Corporation Water Saviour

The Taiwan Water Corporation is working to solve a worldwide problem: water loss from urban distribution systems due to leakage. Their team, Water Warriors, uses Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning to detect and predict leakages in water mains, reducing water loss and improving repair times.

The team have already deployed this solution in Taiwan and are looking to bring it to a worldwide audience. Lightning Lab GovTech provides the opportunity to promote better water resilience on a global scale.

Department of Conservation, Ministry for Primary Industries and Southern Seabirds Solutions Trust

A collaboration between the Department of Conservation, the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust, this project is aiming to make the high seas a safer place for seabirds.

Over the past 12 years, the Antipodean Wandering Albatross has lost 75% of the breeding population, due in part to being attracted to baited fishing hooks and drowning.

The project seeks to answer two questions:

  1. Where and how birds are dying?
  2. What is the most effective way to prevent ongoing deaths?

Ministry of Social Development

The voice of young people needs to be heard when government agencies are developing policies and services for this demographic. However, engaging young people effectively in these processes can be difficult. Agencies often lack effective and consistent methods of involvement, and there is evidence young people are increasingly disengaged and disinterested in civic processes. This may be a reflection of an out-of-touch system, but either way, it is clear government needs to try something different.

Our project aims to experiment with the use of technology to address this challenge – we plan to design a system that leverages young people’s own attitudes and behaviour (e.g. tendencies to try and ‘game the system’), using a chatbot to engage on issues that they care about. Through these conversations, and utilising Natural Language Processing, we hope to draw out insights for policy/service developers.

Multi Agency Team

Aotearoa has one of the highest rates of family violence in the world. Government and community services are seeking to work more closely to ensure that whānau experiencing violence are getting the help they need.

The primary focus of the Lightning Lab GovTech project is on integrated practices, in particular for case management, with the goal of delivering services that prevent further harm and support people to be safer sooner.

Wellington City Council

Providing accessible services, information, technology, transport, buildings and public spaces can make Wellington City more inclusive for everyone. It enhances the diversity of the city and helps the city remain attractive to residents and visitors of any age and ability.

This project aims to build on Wellington’s reputation as an inclusive and socially responsible city, by guiding and enhancing people’s independence and ability to participate in city life, including social and economic participation, and benefit from key council services.

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA)

This project explores new ways to add value to businesses in the region through digital solutions. It will look at the various challenges that companies face as they grow, such as; knowing where to go for help, lack of engagement, limited scope, and inefficient platforms.

Working alongside other business support agencies and private-sector businesses, WREDA will explore how policy changes, platform redevelopment, new offerings and campaigns could overcome these challenges.

Greater Wellington

Greater Wellington’s core goals include freshwater quality and biodiversity, high-quality drinking water, regional resilience with a focus on flood protection, infrastructure and emergency management, and improvements to the public transport network. Much of their work has a long-term environmental focus, with a strong awareness of what they do and why they do it.

This project will explore and develop tools to help them better connect and engage with the 500,000 people that live within our extraordinary region.

Ministry of Social Development

This project is aiming to build the financial capability and resilience of people, families and whānau experiencing hardship by ensuring they have access to a spectrum of support – ranging from preventive to intensive interventions.

Ultimately, the project wants to help people out of hardship, or prevent them from going into hardship and poverty, by creating a digital financial solution that improves access to existing products and services, including a national reach of Financial Mentors.


Wellington City Council has identified housing as a priority, and affordability is a significant focus for the housing sector across the City. WCC has created a Wellington Housing Affordability Model (WHAM), based on the premise that assessing affordability depends on each household’s circumstances (size, composition, and income level), and that a “one size fits all” model is not a viable solution.

The project will develop a model that informs analysis and can be used to help target resources by Council and other housing stakeholders in Wellington. The model will be used to:

  • Implement an affordable Housing Strategy for Wellington City.
  • Strengthen the analysis and inform the debate around housing affordability in Wellington City and Region.