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This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)

SmartStart was the first cross-agency online life event service in New Zealand. SmartStart makes it easier for New Zealanders to access information and services around the birth of a child.
New Zealanders can:
1) learn about having a child;
2) navigate government services;
3) access and engage with services; and
4) consent to reuse information provided to one agency with another agency.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

SmartStart makes it easier for New Zealanders to access information and services around the birth of a child. SmartStart is the first of a number of integrated digital services based around critical life events, and is underpinned by the twin concepts of digitally integrating information and services to the customer and federating data. It enables New Zealanders to:
1) learn about having a child;
2) navigate government services around the birth of a child;
3) access and engage with government services in the simplest possible manner; and
4) consent to reuse information provided to one agency when seeking assistance from another agency.
Four government agencies – the Department of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Social Development, Inland Revenue, and the Ministry of Health have worked collaboratively with two Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), The New Zealand College of Midwives and Plunket NZ (delivering advice and support to new mothers). This partnership has been integral to success. A Stewardship Group, in which all four agencies and the two NGOs are represented, oversaw the development. The agencies shared information (in collaboration with, shared skills (through secondments to the development team) and shared expertise (in regular meetings of reference groups focused on communication, customer design, policy and architecture). Content was developed by a dedicated internal team in partnership with participating agencies.
SmartStart product development relied heavily on co-design principles (i.e. customers involved in design and testing), cross-agency governance, iterative agile development, and benefits driven decision-making throughout the process. By integrating information and access to services into a new digital channel that worked on any device (smartphone, tablet or computer), parents and health practitioners, now and in future, save time and effort.
Three key outcomes were envisaged in the proposal for funding: reducing customer pain points, improving the effectiveness of government services, and building a dynamic ecosystem. SmartStart achieved its first intended outcome: to reduce customer pain points. SmartStart facilitates navigation across all relevant government services, integrating 55 services and shares data between departments with minimal effort by the customer. It reduces the need for the customer to provide the same information over and over again. SmartStart provides New Zealanders with neutral trustworthy information on their journey from conception, to the birth of a child, and into parenthood.
Along this journey, parents are encouraged to select a Lead Maternity Caregiver (e.g. a midwife), apply for paid parental leave, seek immunisation for the mother, register the child’s birth, access additional financial assistance, engage with child health services, and be assisted by a Plunket nurse or WellChild service provider. Information and services can be accessed from any digital device.
SmartStart achieved its second outcome: to improve the effectiveness of government services. The Ministry of Social Development provides a proactive service to their existing clients by removing the need for many clients to be interviewed and the need to purchase a birth certificate. Unnecessary client interactions between the Ministry of Social Development and Internal Affairs have also been reduced. The uptake of parents consenting to share their birth registration information is 33% higher than anticipated. The service has been well received by the Ministry of Social Development clients. In addition parents can request an Inland Revenue number for their child while registering the birth of their child, and by supplying their own Inland Revenue identification number, updating the tax department on their situation with respect to Working for Family tax credits. 91% of customers consent to share their information with at least two services, 25% with three services and nearly 5% with four services.
SmartStart has helped to show what is possible towards achieving its third outcome: to build a dynamic ecosystem. The ecosystem has already been reused in other digital products. Reuse of the team, the software vendor and the technology allowed a second life event to be developed with around half the budget and in half the time: Te Hokinga ā Wairua End of Life Service (, which focuses on integrating death and bereavement public services, was released 30 June 2017.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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Year: 2016
Level of government: National/Federal government


  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed

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