The who and why of New Zealand’s new digital policy advisor

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Cat Mules

The recent announcement of the Digital Council for Aotearoa New Zealand reflects the country’s changing stance on digital policy to respond to a fast-moving data landscape.

Convened by the Minister for Government Digital Services, Kris Faafoi, and Minister of Statistics, James Shawthe aspiration of the Digital Council is mighty: to bring all of New Zealand up to speed with the social potentials of digital technology.

We’ve brought together an impressive mix of people who can help navigate the fast-moving digital and data landscape through a specific New Zealand focus,” says Faafoi in a recent press statement. 

The Digital Council will advise Government on how to maximise opportunities and minimise risks associated with digital transformation. Top of mind in planning will be how data-driven technology should be used to achieve societal outcomes in terms of equality and inclusivity, well-being, and community resilience. 

The Digital Council encompasses a medley of domain experts, spanning fields such as human rights, law, artificial intelligence and Maori literacy.  

The addition of a Digital Council arm to the New Zealand Government’s is hardly surprising given its national ambition to increase international connectivity and interoperability. Back in January, New Zealand concluded talks with Singapore and Chile in the Digital Economy Partnership Agreementa discussion on how they might mutually advance trade as both small, outward-facing and trade-dependent countries. They reached a digital economy pact that will integrate core focuses of digital identities, data flow and AI.

“We also recognise that current trade rules and policies do not fully address the new issues brought about by digitalisation and digital trade,” the Ministers said in a joint statement. Both expressed their wish to reinforce existing trade agreement conditions by tapping into the potential of digital technologies and collaboration platforms.

The Digital Council is currently geared to provide a detailed work program, including success measures, milestones and deadlines, by 31st of March, 2020.  

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Cat Mules

Umbrellar's Digital Journalist, coming from a background in tech reporting and research. Cat's inspired by the epic potential of tech and helping kiwi innovators share their success stories.


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Microsoft is a technology company whose mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. We strive to create local opportunity, growth, and impact in every country around the world.

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