TUANZ renews calls for Digital Ministry

National Architecture discussion paper released

The Telecommunications Users Association (TUANZ) has called on the winner of this weekend's election to pull together areas of digital expertise in government and create a digital ministry separate from the Ministry of Economic Development.

Releasing a green paper titled "Towards a National Digital Architecture" today, TUANZ CEO Ernie Newman said New Zealand's old architecture was effectively run and designed by Telecom, but in the new environment, with multiple investors and operators, guidance is needed to ensure aspects of the architecture such as security and interoperability.

TUANZ chairman Chris O'Connell said he had to give kudos to the government in addressing its architectural needs through State Services Commission programmes such as the Government Shared Network (GSN), the KAREN research network and other projects. This, he said, would deliver better value for government spending.

However, investment such as Telecom's $2.4 billion programme and the government between $1 billion and $1.5 billion in partnership with private organisations, requires sets of common rules to be set and agreed plans and standards. There is no body to do deliver these.

TUANZ suggests New Zealand follows the example of Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority, which is currently guiding investment in that country's Next Generation National Broadband Network.

Newman says such principles would be like the Road Code or the Building Code in not restricting where you can drive or what you can build, but ensuring that what is built meets the needs of users.

Communications minister David Cunliffe said the manifesto provides valuable input into discussions on New Zealand’s ICT future.

“I welcome TUANZ’s contribution in the area of cybersecurity and system integration, and investment efficiency — all of which have been key themes of Digital Strategy 2.0," he said.

While acknowledging the work of the government and the Commerce Commission in changing New Zealand's environment over the last four to five years, Newman says there is work still to do. He says, for instance, New Zealand has not done a particularly good job in protecting its digital infrastructure and called for the formation of a computer emergency response team to track and warn users and providers about security threats.

The green paper covers issues such as ownership and access to networks, competition issues, interoperability, investment efficiency, oversight, service management, operations and security.

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