Clare Curran: Data scientists play key roles in bridging digital divide

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran enlists the help of the country’s leading data professionals in the campaign to bridge the digital divide and promote digital rights and privacy.

Across all industries, the huge growth in internet-connected devices is changing how businesses operate, says Curran, in her keynote at the annual SUNZ (SAS Users New Zealand) conference in Wellington.

“With more data, they can become more insight-driven and respond more effectively to customers. But more data means more complexity – in the data being generated and in how it is processed and used,” she says.

“We are running the risk of data overload and analytics - conducted within an ethical framework - is needed more than ever to make sense of this vast wealth of data and ensure all New Zealanders and their rights are protected,” she says.

There are so many possibilities for human advancement and so many opportunities for all of us, says Curran, in her keynote at the annual SUNZ (SAS Users New Zealand) conference in Wellington.

“We are seeing truly exciting developments such as face and movement recognition controlling the everyday machines and appliances we use; biocompatible microbots repairing our injuries from within; antibiotics that are designed for our biochemistry; big data and predictive AI predicting with near certainty what will happen next, from elections to evolution, to geopolitical situations,” she says.

“But I can also see that technology brings with it some things that are not going to benefit us all and some things that may cause us harm.

“I believe that how we manage new technologies and data and how we protect people’s private information is one of the most important issues of our time.”

How we manage new technologies and data and how we protect people’s private information is one of the most important issues of our timeBroadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran

She calls on the more than 300 data professionals to share their expertise in the government’s goal to reduce the digital divide across New Zealand.

“As key players in the technology and analytics field, you have a role to play too in ensuring that the future we shape is inclusive and fair.”

“You can make a difference in helping increase people’s digital literacy and understanding of data and analytics. And you can work to increase the diversity in your respective fields, building a strong workforce that is more representative of our world.”

She says the SUNZ members can also share their insights with the Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Ministerial Advisory Group.

This group, with 15 members led by Frances Valintine, will advise the Government on how to build the digital economy and reduce the digital divides.

This is a highly collaborative team who see their own stakeholders, colleagues, communities, and the public, as virtual members of the group.

“I encourage you, as experts in the data analytics field, to take the opportunity to put ideas forward to the group and also to think about what steps you can take to ensure that digital services are available to everyone.”

She cites The future of work commission report, undertaken by the Labour Party when it was still in the opposition, which looked at the disruption of work through technology and its impact in New Zealand.

She says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is taking the research to the next level - futureproofing the economy by having the budget and environmental sustainability to prepare people for climate change and the reality that 40 per cent of current jobs will not exist in a decade.

“The idea is to try to stay ahead of the curve or on the curve,” she says. “And to have a robust plan to future proof the economy, we have to work together.”

“We want to ensure digital inclusion for all New Zealand, for all of us, not just some of us.”

“We need to keep on having these discussions, to keep on challenging where you think it is not working or not enough is being done.”

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran at the SUNZ (SAS Users New Zealand) conference in Wellington

1 2 Page 1
Page 1 of 2
7 secrets of successful remote IT teams