Study eyes e-govt testbed

New Zealand could become a testbed for online government applications. The IT Association this month begins a feasibility study into what would become the Centre for Advanced E-Government Applications.

New Zealand could become a testbed for online government applications.

The IT Association this month begins a feasibility study into what would become the Centre for Advanced E-Government Applications.

It hopes to complete the study by April. If found to be viable the centre would be launched by year’s end.

Itanz believes by testing e-government-related systems New Zealand would gain better government services, a stronger IT industry and eventually increased exports as the tested systems were adopted by governments overseas.

“Our small size coupled with our first-class technical skills make New Zealand an ideal test bed to create, pilot and reference-site advanced e-government applications in a unique, controllable and highly credible operating environment,” says a January briefing paper from Itanz.

Itanz executive director Jim O’Neill says his group’s project will receive a study grant from Investment NZ, part of Industry NZ, for up to half the cost of the study, to a maximum of $100,000. The study is estimated to cost between $200,000 and $300,000 and will involve a project team of up to 10 people.

The country, O’Neill says, has one of the world’s smallest governments offering a full range of services, from defence, diplomacy, to health and education.

It faces issues in improving the delivery of services to people, so if IT and commun-ications can be used to improve the delivery of services here, they can similarly be used overseas.

The centre would create a vendor-independent forum where government, industry, universities and other crown entities would co-operate to create innovative e-government applications.

The goal would be to identify and define technology ideas that would be made available to the New Zealand ICT industry to consider and find practicable solutions, the paper says.

“Collaborative engagement will be made with other interested groupings including the health IT cluster, MediaLab, regional develop-ment agencies and associated incubators and clusters.”

O’Neill says his members, which include multinationals as well as New Zealand-owned firms, have discussed the issue over the past five months and back the idea of the centre. Strong interest and support is also claimed from Victoria University, Industrial Research, the Canterbury-based E-Security Lab working group and the New Zealand e-government unit.

The New Zealand ICT industries, ITANZ says, already have a good track record in commercialising innovation and selling it offshore, noting the efforts behind the Inland Revenue’s FIRST, IBM’s ICMS and Peace utility systems.

Calls to Investment NZ and relevant government ministers were not immediately responded to.

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