The Digital Development Council is collecting information on regional broadband initiatives, planning to see what “gaps” exist and how they can be remedied by information transfer among the regions, says executive director Paul Alexander.
The DDC will release a report on the regional state of broadband development in February. This will be a “subjective” evaluation of work in the regions, Alexander says, and is designed to complement the more objective report on possible national broadband strategies released by InternetNZ late last year.
DDC representatives met ICT Minister Steven Joyce last December and have been told any decisions on broadband funding and implementation will not be made until the end of January at the earliest. The organisation will try to position itself to meet some of the minister’s evident priorities. “He’s clearly interested in seeing definite results,” says Alexander. Despite an emphasis by the previous government on “cutting the apron strings” between itself and the sector with the formation of DDC and the Digital Development Forum, “we want and need to work closely with government”, Alexander says.
Other priorities for January will include “working with the newly formed NZ ICT [industry] group, the Computer Society and others on a plan of attack to address ICT skills shortages, and meeting with business groups and providers of programmes to make smarter use of ICT,” says DDC chair Fran Wilde in a statement on the DDC website (www.ddc.org.nz).
The DDC’s discussion with Joyce did not touch significantly on skills, says Alexander. The Computer Society has done significant work on this already, he says, and clearly much of that is related to the industry and will come under the purview of the NZ ICT group. When it comes to a more general question of digital literacy, DDC members such as the 2020 Communications Trust will be able to make more of a contribution. There will no doubt be a “pathway or pipeline” by which the two initiatives will connect, Alexander says.