NZ to enter eight applications for WSIS awards

Awards aim to shift focus from technology to content

New Zealand will put forward eight entries — one for each of the nominated categories — in the Worldwide Summit Awards, a contest associated with the second part of the Worldwide Summit on the Information Society, to be held later this year in Tunis.

The awards will be for applications of information and communications technology in education/learning, culture, science, business, government, health, entertainment and “e-inclusion”. The last category is for applications that attempt to bring the benefits of the “information society” to less-developed countries or to usually excluded communities such as poor, women and rural populations.

Three candidate entries are being chosen in each of the categories by a panel of sector specialists and a one-day conference will be held to choose the winning entries.

New Zealand’s entrants will be announced at a function provisionally scheduled for July 20. Entry has been financed with the help of InternetNZ, the National Library and the Ministry of Economic Development.

At the time of the previous WSIS, in 2003, New Zealand has two entries in the parallel awards contest: Living Heritage, a website that invites local communities to contribute content about their history and current affairs; and the Mobile Surgical Bus, a support for smaller hospitals and communities in surgical and medical consultation.

The awards “provide for the first time the opportunity to shift the focus from technology, networks and access issues to the applications /digital content and its visibility,” says local organiser Jan Bieringa.

“The other major conceptual shift addressed is in thinking about digital content on a broader more inclusive scale. The timing for such a push for a different approach is perfect for NZ, given the GIF [Growth and Innovation Framework], the state of the nation address by the Prime Minister and the development of the NZ Digital Strategy under IT Minister David Cunliffe,” Bieringa says.

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