Critical information shared during COVID-19 response

As the Government’s response to COVID-19 ramped up in March 2020, the Ministry of Health needed timely information about Intensive Care Unit bed availability.

As the government’s response to COVID-19 ramped up in March 2020, the Ministry of Health urgently required timely information about Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed availability. To meet this pressing need, they sought a data exchange solution: a ‘smart pipe’ for the rapid, safe, and secure transfer of data about ICU bed availability in response to COVID-19. 

A Data Exchange is, in effect, a smart pipe that facilitates safe, efficient and controlled transfer of data. Using a Data Exchange means the social sector can make evidence-based decisions sooner, improving service delivery and enhancing people’s lives.

Connecting to the Eightwire Data Exchange

The Social Wellbeing Agency worked with four district health boards (DHBs) to set up the required information sharing agreements with the Ministry. Waitematā, Mid Central, Capital and Coast, and Canterbury DHBs acted as hubs for other DHBs. This ensured the Ministry received hourly data on ICU bed availability from nine DHBs, covering over half the country.

Mid-Central DHB had already connected with the Data Exchange alongside five other organisations as part of the Collective Impact initiative Kāinga Whānau Ora in Palmerston North. Mid-Central were impressed at the safety, security and ease by which they could transfer data and soon set up a second data sharing connection with Think Hauora, a PHO also involved in Kāinga Whānau Ora. This meant that when the Ministry of Health needed quick, safe and secure data about ICU bed availability in response to COVID-19, Mid-Central DHB was ready to go.

This Data Exchange network saw the first transfer of data occurring in a matter of days. The Ministry of Health, with near-real time data tracking intensive care resources, could quickly analyse quality data from DHBs to support the government’s pandemic response. This information was critical, as it could be used to support strengthening or relaxing restrictions based on ICU capacity.

More about the Eightwire Data Exchange

How it works

Unlike a database, the Data Exchange doesn’t store any data. It’s a hybrid client and cloud-based solution that makes it easier for data to travel securely between organizations. Simply connect, map, and exchange.

  1. Connect – The Data Exchange works with all major data storage systems and APIs. It takes as little as 20 minutes for an organization to connect and begin exchanging data.
  2. Map – The Data Exchange has algorithms that map data sources and destinations. Users merely guide the process.
  3. Exchange – Once authorized, data from the source system is encrypted and transferred to the destination system. This allows information to move between systems without requiring manual effort to build interfaces.
  • Safe and secure transfer of data
  • Easy, efficient and consistent data connection and transfer
  • Standard approaches to privacy, data management and data standards
Security and privacy

The DX meets government information security standards set out in the NZISM for information classified as sensitive or restricted. Users follow a carefully designed set of security and privacy principles, guided by the Social Wellbeing Agency’s Data Exchange team.


Does the Exchange retain data? – Only sending and receiving organisations access data. No other parties can see, retain, or access any data content at any time.

Is it only for agencies? – The Data Exchange enables data transfers between organisations of any kind, including NGOs and government agencies.

Is a high standard of technical capability required to use it? – Only modest technical capability is needed to operate it, making it suitable for use by large and small organisations.

Does the Social Wellbeing Agency own the Data Exchange? – Wellington-based Kiwi company Eight Wire Limited owns and operates the Data Exchange.