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Digital 5 - Leaders in Government innovation

The Digital 5 was founded in 2014, and for the first time was hosted in New Zealand this year. Kamala was one of the attendees on behalf of SilverStripe, and these are her highlights.

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Four years ago, the Digital 5 was founded in my home country the UK, it consists of some of the most digitally developed countries in the world - Estonia, Israel, New Zealand, Korea and the UK. The point of the group is to share best practices, collaborate on projects and champion growing digital economies. Every year one of the Digital Nations hosts a D5 summit, this year it was New Zealand’s turn. 

As a co-partner of the Common Web platform - the hosting solution for the New Zealand public sector, SilverStripe was lucky enough to get a few tickets to the event. I got one of those - here is some of the cool stuff I saw when there.

The Opening

The average conference usually kicks off with dull platitudes and pointers to the nearest loo. The D5 was different. Te Aroha Morehu kicked off with a Mihi (a traditional Māori welcome). Using the light on his mobile phone as a taiaha he set a ongoing theme of the conference linking the rich history of New Zealand technology to current innovations.

It set the tone for the rest of the conference.

Te Aroha Morehu performing a mihi

Te Aroha Morehu performing a Mihi - images sourced from the Digital Nations event page 


The point of the D5 is to share stories, ideas and visions for the future of the five nations. Our minister Clare Curran kicked off the conference with some big ideas of:

  • Collaboration on technical problems across nations
  • How we close the digital divide and move towards equal access
  • Strengthening digital rights
  • Developing the jobs of the future

We heard inspirational speakers from all five nations talk about the problems we have and the future we want to move towards.

One of the standouts was Siim Sikkut, from Estonia talking about the work they had done there in such a short amount of time to shift Estonia to a digital native operating model, with their e-residency programme and their ‘once only’ policy compelling government departments to share data. 

The stand out of day two was Ian Taylor who delayed his flight to give a rousing speech. He linked the history of how Māori used the stars and the technology of the waka boats to guide them to New Zealand then, to now where New Zealanders are reaching the same stars using rockets in Mahia.

It set a visionary tone for a day of discussions and workshops.

SilverStripe front and centre

SilverStripe were proud to have a stand at the event and a competition to win a drone. We got to speak to some really interesting folks throughout the day and hear some of the challenges Governments around the world are facing.

Kamala and another attendee at the SilverStripe booth

Kamala and Nick Elias from NZTech at the SilverStripe booth

On the first day our CEO Sam Minnée spoke on the Digital Leaders panel and outlined what Government can learn from open source ecosystems and the future of shared ownership. He highlighted how open source software like SilverStripe can give people a good environment to learn and try new stuff out.

Sam on the panel for showcasing digital leadership

SilverStripe CEO Sam Minnée on the panel for showcasing digital leadership

On day two our Head of Product - Nicole Williams shared the stage with DIA’s Christine Bennett to share the story of our collaboration on the Common Web Platform. They talked about the innovative co-fund model, agencies open-sourcing reusable pieces of their code and the successful growth of the platform.

The D5 become the D7

This year saw the D5 grow and embrace two new Nations. The founding five nations were joined by another two, Canada and Uruguay. This was signed in Wellington and recognises the dedication to digital continuing to grow. SilverStripe looks forward to continuing to play our role in transforming digital nations via the power of our open source community.

To hear a bit more about D5, take a look at one of our other blogs from Benn Crawford, looking at the differences between the public and private sectors

About the author
Kamala Hamilton-Brown

Kamala hails from the UK where she worked for the Ministry of Justice digital services. Kamala is product owner for the SilverStripe Operations and Server teams. 

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