An initiative to create a chain of secure data centres in New Zealand has moved a step ahead.
Representatives from government, industry and academia backed a plan in Auckland last week to help create a new industry here.
Organiser and co-ordinator Gary Connolly of The Digital Agenda says New Zealand could have vaults of secure data, just as Switzerland earns revenue from its banking vaults.
The location of New Zealand on the globe, allowing it to serve Europe and the US while those continents are asleep, poses another advantage.
Connolly, an IT business strategist, says the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US presents an opportunity for New Zealand.
He proposes five diverse data centres to handle a variety of data.
“At the highest level, the data is held with a view to total disaster recovery. The scaled down approach handles companies (local and international) which are looking to achieve anything from secure, safe storage of information, through to the top-level vault-like holding of unchanging information,” Connolly says.
The Auckland meeting involved Auckland University representatives, data security companies, TradeNZ, Investment NZ and Telecom. They agreed to explore the proposal, gather information about what resources already exist in New Zealand and see how to bring the plan to fruition.
Robin Ducker, the IT business development manager at university services arm UniServices, describes the initial meeting as a "feeling out session", one of the purposes of which was to see if there was anything that might derail the idea.
"We identified a few things that might prevent it, including the fact that Telecom is already in that game."
But Ducker says his impression is that Telecom provides a more IT-orientated service, whereas the proposal under discussion is security-orientated.
Another potential fly in the ointment, he says, is New Zealand's data privacy laws, but he is confident they can be readily amended to enable the idea to proceed.
Connolly says a background document will be prepared for use as a blueprint to involve other interested parties, build partnerships and move forward using a collaborative "business clustering" approach.
The meeting also considered technologies such as encryption, retina scans, voice prints and palm scans as well as cyberattacks overseas.
A follow-up meeting is scheduled for next week.
“We have a market, not just of New Zealand, but a global market because of New Zealand’s unique position in the world,” Connolly says.