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Takeaways from the 2017 NZTech Advance Government and Technology Summit

Some SilverStripers attended the recent NZTech Advance Government and Technology Summit. Here's a recap.

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The 2017 NZTech Advance Government and Technology Summit held on the 28th February was focused around three themes: data, cloud and citizen. Useful background reading from the 2016 conference helped provide further context and see how things have moved in a year.

The day was a mix of keynote presentations, panels and roundtable discussions attended by a range of government agencies and ICT suppliers. SilverStripe was proud to be a sponsor for this event.

Key takeaways from the day

  • The NZ Government is moving to be an enabler for digital transformation with agencies by ensuring appropriate guidance and policies are in place to support sound decision making. “Centrally led, but collaboratively delivered” was a key theme from the GCTO Tim Occleshaw during his keynote speech. It was pleasing to hear DIA share how their focus is on cross-agency collaboration becoming less prescriptive.

  • The focus on service design based around user needs was refreshing to see. This was reinforced via other presentations and roundtable sessions where agencies were able to talk to the work they are doing around life events and customer journey mapping. The Govt.nz website has been developed with the user events in mind, which touch multiple agencies.

  • For vendors to the government market, there was an important message to heed. The government is moving to the concept of government as a “client of one” looking at ways to better share data, share software licenses, utilise common platforms and develop greater resilience. Chris Webb from DIA shared progress on the ICT Marketplace, a DIA led initiative, which has utilised a collaborative multi-agency engagement to co-design and shape the requirements for the marketplace. The marketplace would allow suppliers to share their capabilities and pricing, and to make it easier for the qualifying 381 agencies to consume shared services and capabilities.

  • With a focus on data and cloud, it was natural that attendees would seek clarification on data sovereignty and what this meant for the adoption of cloud services. DIA acknowledged that offshore cloud services can be used and that since allowing Office 365 that some pent up demand had been released. For using cloud and data services outside of NZ, the message was to assess the risks (DIA has a risk framework for this) to agency data.

  • A panel discussion on cloud generated some fascinating conversation:

    • The Privacy Act 1993 is old but informs consent. People don’t know where their data is kept but they do care how it is used.

    • Cloud services help organisations in many ways including business continuity, resilience, and mobility.

    • When using cloud services, it is important to protect the data, for example, via encryption and/or obfuscation and by doing so the ‘where is it hosted’ element becomes less important. Inland Revenue, for example, uses cloud services for service delivery and governance applications, both of which encrypt data.

    • An interpretation of data sovereignty was put forward that it is less about where the data is and more about who has access to it. There was also some guidance that it is important to consider what jurisdictions presided over data locations as these will have different risk profiles.

  • Jacqueline Poh of Singapore’s Government Technology Agency provided some fascinating insights into their progress toward a vision of a Smart Nation and Digital Government. Key highlights included:

    • Use of a data science team to inform public policy with robust data analysis. The team also managed to use data to identify a problematic train that was disrupting the transit network.

    • The development of an API exchange for government agencies to make it easier to share data.

    • The development of the One Service mobile application that allows citizens to interact with services that cross over 15 agencies. Very cool.

  • Francis Valintine (Tech Futures Lab and The Mind Lab) wrapped up the day with a very sobering and thought-provoking perspective on education in New Zealand, highlighting that when it comes to innovation, we are near the bottom in OECD rankings. In China and India, tertiary study in STEM subjects is attracting 40% and 36% respectively; in New Zealand, it is 4%. We have a lot of work to do and urgently need to look at how we educate future generations. An interesting point was raised that, in some countries, future planning focuses on 50 to 100 timeframes whilst, in New Zealand, we have agencies still working on plans for 2020. We need to break out of short term thinking if we are to truly prepare our future citizens for what will be a world quite different from the one we live in now.

About the author
David Morrison

David is a Programme Manager helping ensure our high performing teams deliver fantastic results for our clients and for SilverStripe.

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