Economics invention keeps getting better

D Scene, 20 May 2009

by Ryan Keen

An Otago University economics boffin behind cutting-edge decision-making software says a new and improved recession-proof version is available. Associate professor of economics Paul Hansen, along with Wellington-based co-inventor Franz Ombler, have released an update of their award-winning 1000minds software. The new version comes with tools enabling users to gauge the best bang for their buck - or, if you want to get technical, the best "value when allocating scarce resources across competing alternative uses".

"There's previously been no explicit comparison with cost. We're now moving into the budget-allocation field and for governments and organizations facing budget constraints, that's a big step," Hansen says.

"A classic example is the stadium. I think everyone agrees a stadium is a pretty cool thing to have - but is it a cool thing to have when it costs $200 million?" Asked if he thinks councillors would have come to the same decision to publicly fund the project if they'd used his new software, Hansen says: "I'm not sure they would have come up with a different decision, but it might have done it in a more transparent way if they'd had another lens with which to look at it."

Hansen is excited about the potential uses, saying it's useful for the kind of work the National-led Government is doing now - getting the best value from its spending. "It pretty much doubles the power of the software."

1000minds has already racked up innovation and software awards, and boasts customers in New Zealand, Canada and United Kingdom.