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NZ tech sector helping Govt's COVID response

New Zealand's tech sector is playing a crucial role supporting the Government's response to Covid-19, as Kiwis head back into lockdown, says NZTech. 

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says the tech sector is significantly supporting the government "on its journey to embrace an enhanced digital future".

"New Zealand has in recent years been ranked one of the top digital economies in the world by Tufts University's Digital Evolution Index.

"New Zealand's strong digital economy was attributed to a positive combination of infrastructure, incubating start-ups, a cultural commitment to innovation, and government support," says Muller. 

However he says New Zealand can still improve a lot digitally, in many areas.

"Like all organisations and businesses, government agencies are grappling with how to best engage with and service their customers in the covid-19 world," Muller explains.

The annual Future Government summit in Wellington this week is bringing together senior government officials, technology decision makers and tech leaders to discuss new ways to use digital technologies to increase collaboration, provide more citizen centric experiences and to incorporate new ways of working.

The summit, scheduled to run in March, was shifted to August due to the first lockdown, and has been adapted to cope with any level of lockdown, Muller says.

"Demonstrating how a nimble tech sector operates, the summit is being run using a fully digital environment enabling guest and speakers to engage across New Zealand in roundtable discussion and interactive presentations," he says.

A panel discussion with the chief executives of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Statistics New Zealand and Inland Revenue will delve into how their agencies have collaborated during the COVID-19 response.

"We will also hear from the chief executive of the Department of Internal Affairs and the governments chief digital officer on how they have been keeping a watchful eye on digital inclusion and making sure no Kiwis are left behind in this sudden shift to digital," Muller adds.

"A more digital government has implications for security and privacy and the director general of the Government Communications Security Bureau will be discussing the cyber security roadmap supporting the governments digital transformation."

NZTech and Digital Council of Aotearoa New Zealand chair Mitchell Pham says New Zealand can position itself to get the best from technology so that everyone benefits.

"What we are learning from how we respond to COVID are lessons that all of government can apply for the benefit of all Kiwis," Pham says.

"New Zealand tech is becoming well known for its innovation and that it is good for the world. A great example is Soul Machines, whose artificial intelligence digital human Florence is being used by the World Health Organisation to provide up to date COVID advice.

"A digital nation is critical for New Zealand's future prosperity in a globally competitive digital world. Continuing to develop digital infrastructure, policy and companies will ensure New Zealand can continue to create jobs and deliver efficient and effective public services to optimise our economy and the wellbeing of our society in our increasingly digital world."