New Zealand Online funding model proposed

WSIS expects more support from New Zealand for Pacific Island ICT initiatives

A “New Zealand Online” funding model to facilitate creation of local digital content in a manner similar to NZ On Air for television is a key idea presented to IT Minister David Cunliffe by the delegates who attended the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)in Tunis last year.

“There were some amazing demonstrations of digital content at WSIS and delegates thought actions under this part of the Digital Strategy needed strengthening,” says New Zealand Civil Society delegate Ian Thompson, reporting on the debriefing session held with the minister earlier this month.

“Development of a comprehensive digital content strategy, with the objective of accelerating the production, distribution and marketing of digital content and applications domestically and internationally should be a key priority for New Zealand,” Thompson says. “The Digital Strategy is a great foundation, but urgency around next steps is critical.”

The debriefing party also recommends pushing forward a “People’s Network” project, similar to that funded in the UK to deliver ICT capability to all New Zealand communities through their public libraries.

In an appendix of the Digital Strategy document, the National Library has been charged with getting this project under way, in collaboration with the Department of Internal Affairs, State Services Commission ICT branch, Local Government New Zealand, local councils and their public libraries, Citizens Advice Bureaux and local partners.

The Tunis delegates also point to the need to facilitate “local/grass roots content development” in other ways.

They suggest that New Zealand’s performance in developing its ICT should be rigorously benchmarked so as to make our successes known nationally and internationally.

“It was clear that New Zealand’s Digital Strategy is world class; a sound platform to promote the outcomes of WSIS and to facilitate New Zealand gaining full benefits from ICTs,” the delegates say. “Many of New Zealand’s ICT initiatives are also world class, but are only pilots and one-offs while many other countries even those not in the OECD are planning and implementing ‘scale up’ and national rollout programmes”.

Many delegates says they were disappointed that New Zealand did not have a much higher profile in the conference’s main exhibition event, known as ICT4All.

Lastly, the WSIS delegates take New Zealand to task for not doing more to support the evolution of productive use of ICT in the Pacific Islands.

“There was a notable lack of interest in the Pacific Island region, both from those island nations and from development agencies, who are all too eager to help Africa, South Asia and South America,” they say.

“Most [WSIS] delegates thought that New Zealand has the responsibility to promote ICT issues and assist Pacific Island countries in ICT awareness raising and capacity building. It was observed that the rest of the world expects Australia and New Zealand to take this lead role in the region.”

The local delegates see an excellent opportunity to develop this initiative around the March ICANN meeting and the concurrent Pacific Island Forum ICT Ministers meeting in Wellington.

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