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Digital Council for Aotearoa New Zealand #weeknotes (7)


By Mitchell Pham, Chair of the Digital Council for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Thanks to everyone who read and provided feedback on our advice to Ministers on the medium to long-term opportunities and impacts of Covid-19 from a digital and data perspective.

We’ve had a steady response on social media to the four themes outlined in our letter to Ministers:

  • social and digital inclusion
  • leveraging technology to empower business
  • enhanced technology sector employment
  • privacy and trust

We also talked about the same themes in the media on RNZ business and with Umbrellar reporter Catherine Mules.

Tomorrow, chair Mitchell Pham joins a panel of six tech experts at 2pm to discuss the impact of COVID-19 at a Government insights webinar (register online to tune in — we’d love to see you there).

Speakers on the panel include:

  • Mitchell Pham, Chair, Digital Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Chris Buxton, Chief Digital Officer, Statistics NZ
  • Giles Southwell, GM Workplace and Technology, NZTA
  • Ann-Marie Cavanagh, Deputy Chief Digital Officer & Deputy Chief Executive Digital Public Service, Department of Internal Affairs
  • Michael Stribling, Managed Services Tribe Lead, Spark New Zealand
  • Steve Wotten, CTO, NTT

The one-hour webinar, facilitated by Victoria MacLennan, Managing Director, OptimalBI, will focus on New Zealand Government’s reimagined digital journey as a result of COVID-19.

If you’d like to learn more about the Council’s advice to Ministers, then definitely sign up. Register at:

Stakeholder meetings wrap up

Last week, we continued to catch up with health and business sector stakeholders.

We heard from Dr Sasha Kljakovic about Well Revolution’s messaging-based consultation app launched just in time for lockdown. It was good to hear about the Ministry of Health’s appetite for embracing innovation, while at the same time hearing about the issues for new businesses trying to navigate the Health Privacy Code.

We heard more on the topic of accessibility. It keeps coming up as an essential issue for so many sectors, especially health. Accessibility sits at the heart of successful product development. Taking tech literacy into consideration, as well as allowing for a wide range of software versions and hardware models when developing products, is vital.

Accessing finance to pay for and power technology is also a key aspect of accessibility — as is overcoming device software restrictions. Company access to data and reducing the time it takes for businesses in New Zealand to move to the cloud are other issues. The small number of companies who control access to sending and receiving data was also highlighted as an issue requiring attention.

Meanwhile, Paul Gestro, International Trade Consultant to ASB, identified a range of important tech-related issues such as the need for banks to help SMEs access finance to more rapidly scale up their businesses, increase their transaction capability and increase and de-risk increased export volumes.

Update on our research work

Our research work continues at pace. Last week, we started a literature review, examining issues of trust and trustworthiness in automated decision making (ADM).

We’re also looking for real life examples of where ADM is used to identify potential harms, as well as opportunities to improve decision making. For example, ADM could increase trust in institutions and systems whose decision making has always been opaque and (potentially) biased. In that case, automation could help create fairer systems. We’ll talk more about our preliminary findings in next week’s blog.

Finally, this last week, we caught up with Professor Michael Macaulay from Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Government to hear his insights on trust both broadly, as well as specific to people’s interactions with technology.

We agree with Professor Macaulay the building blocks of trustworthiness — credibility, reliability, intimacy and authenticity — are central to our research work. And we look forward to continuing our discussions with Michael on why people adopt technology, and why trust matters.

About our work: Council members come together monthly to make key decisions and progress our work programme. Between formal meetings, members focus on various work streams. Colin Gavaghan and Marianne Elliott lead our research work, Kendall Flutey and Roger Dennis our ad-hoc work, and Rachel Kelly and Nikora Ngaropo lead our comms, while our chair, Mitchell Pham, holds responsibility for stakeholder engagement.

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