Rugby World Cup tech attack scrums down

Enthusiastic response to RFI prompts overhaul of tender process

An unexpected high response to a request for information for ideas to showcase New Zealand technical excellence in association with the 2011 Rugby World Cup, has led NZ Trade and Enterprise to withdraw the RFI temporarily. An additional filtering stage will now be introduced into the evaluation procedure to make the number of qualifying responses more manageable.

The document was due to go back up on the GETS government tender site late last week. An added clause will make it clear that NZTE does not intend to enter a tendering process immediately for any of the suggested solutions.

“We had an overwhelming level of response; hundreds of people downloaded the RFI,” says NZTE’s director of creative services and ICT, Richard Laverty. “We assumed we would be able to run through the selection process quite quickly, but now it will take longer,” he says.

The request is for ideas for an application centred on mobile devices, that will support a “mass participation exercise” among people visiting for the Rugby World Cup, to make them more aware of the high standard of ICT expertise and awareness in New Zealand.

Laverty says an application aimed at crowd participation is not inconsistent with a sophisticated tech-savvy image; the typical rugby fan these days will probably have a smartphone and will appreciate an impression of New Zealand as a purveyor of advanced digital technology. “There may be high-tech geeky stuff behind [the chosen application] but to the audience it is the expression of a changing world they are familiar with from their use of smartphones and information kiosks,” he says.

The incentive is one of many coming out of NZTE, the Ministry of Economic Development and other government agencies to promote New Zealand’s scientific and technical excellence and encourage contacts between local companies and visitors who have a need that can possibly be met with Kiwi technology.

Virtual Expos New Zealand, which last year proposed a virtual conference and exhibition venue called Business Central to complement the “party central” idea for the World Cup (Computerworld, September 16, 2009), is still in discussion with NZTE, says CEO Frances Manwaring. However, it now appreciates that a purely virtual venue is not the ideal answer; instead it aims to use ShowGizmo, a web and smartphone system to aid communication between delegates and exhibitors at live shows.

Another major vehicle for presenting New Zealand’s scientific and technical strengths is the Rutherford HiTech Forum, being coordinated by the NZICT Group and scheduled for September next year.

NZICT describes it as “rather like a trade mission in reverse, with New Zealand companies determining who they want to target to drive their business forward, and the Forum being facilitated around these collective requirements.

“There will be some plenary sessions with keynote speakers,” says NZICT, “but the intention is for the bulk of the programme to be smaller workshops and in many cases one-on-one sessions.”

The forum’s main base will be Christchurch, but there will be spin-off activities in other locations around the country, NZICT says.

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