By Mitchell Pham, Chair of the Digital Council for Aotearoa New Zealand.
As anticipated, our work is ramping up as the number of people we engage with increases, our work programme scales up, and there is more to share with you.
Monthly Digital Council meeting
We held our monthly Digital Council meeting on Friday 15 May where we decided our main work programme research topic would focus on automated decision making as a case study in trust.
We also discussed stakeholder feedback on the medium to long term digital and data opportunities for New Zealand in a post-COVID world. Since digital and data are so interrelated, the insights have been far-reaching and fascinating. By early June, we will have developed our advice for Ministers.
Our monthly meetings also provide an opportunity for the team to hear from external guests whose work is directly relevant to our own.
We had a great session with the Government Chief Data Steward (GCDS), Mark Sowden, who talked to us about Stats NZ and how data can support digital transformation and a more joined-up approach between government agencies. A particular highlight was learning more about Stats NZ Social Licence survey, which aims to ensure New Zealanders have trust and confidence in the way their data is managed — an issue we are watching very closely.
The team was especially grateful to DIA colleagues who provided an invaluable session on tikanga Māori. Alongside the establishment of more formal relationships and engagement with Māori, this was an important session for us to consider how we’ll honour and incorporate te ao Māori in our work. There’s more to do but we are excited to build the group’s kaupapa.
Lastly, Alan Bell, Director of the Digital Identity Transition Programme outlined how a new approach to digital identity could create the right environment, set the right rules and take advantage of new technologies to give New Zealanders secure forms of digital identification as this becomes increasingly important.
Talking to stakeholders
In terms of stakeholder engagement this week, the Chair had a great conversation with Aaron Scott, who heads up Somar Design Studios, and is part of a collective working on technology solutions for socially focused organisations adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. More details on the collective will be made public shortly. It was heartening to talk about the employment and participation opportunities that digital technologies can offer people with disabilities — and the associated benefits to self-worth that result.
The Chair also discussed the opportunities for New Zealand’s businesses in Asia-Pacific with Toni Moyes, co-Chair of the Digital Innovation Working Group of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), and trade policy consultant Steph Honey. There is a great deal of alignment between the Council’s respective groups and the issues we are interested in — from exploring how new technologies can contribute to economic growth, how to nurture human capital, how to ensure trust and confidence in both technology and cross-border data flows and the impact of cross-border digital trade on New Zealand SMEs and Kiwi consumers. We look forward to exploring how we can collaborate in future.
Thank you to all who spoke with us this week.