Feb 21, 2018 — TracPlus Global and AgriTrack announced today an agreement to deliver time-critical fire information from AgriTrack’s FireTrack into TracPlus’ global tracking and messaging service. Last year, Australia experienced their warmest winter on record, contributing further to the threat of uncontrolled Wildfires and further necessitating the urgency for more detailed and comprehensive real time data delivery.
Feb 20, 2018 - Ian Taylor, one of New Zealand’s most prominent tech experts, says New Zealand must celebrate it digital successes as one of the leading tech countries in the world. Taylor received a huge ovation at the international digital nations summit in Auckland today for his impassioned plea to all Kiwis to feel proud of the country’s digital and tech successes.
Feb 20, 2018 - The appointment of a chief technology officer for New Zealand is critical for the future of the country if we hope to be a thriving digital nation by 2030, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says. He was speaking at the international Digital Nations Summit in Auckland today and reiterated that technology is going to drive the New Zealand economy in the future.
Feb 19, 2018 - Spark Digital chief executive Jolie Hodson, who is speaking to the international Digital Nations summit in Auckland starting today, has painted a picture of dramatic tech changes in New Zealand over the next 12 years.
Feb 19, 2018 - As the nation considers how New Zealand will look as a digital society in 2030, Kiwis need to take a moment to look back the equivalent period of the last 13 years, a prominent tech expert says.
In 2005 there was no Uber, Tesla, Airbnb, WeChat, WhatsApp, Viber, Tinder or even a first iteration of the iPhone, many transformational technologies that now enhance our lives that we take for granted, says Leigh Flounders, a New Zealand chief executive award winner last year.
In 2005 for financial services, we Kiwis paid exorbitant fees for foreign exchange, were required to go into a branch to open an account, provide two types of ID to take out an overdraft, used cards rather than mobiles to pay for stuff, and had to speak to someone if there was a bank error.
In 2018… well in the New Zealand financial sector not much has changed, NZTech board member Leigh Flounders says.
He is speaking at the international Digital Nations Summit in Auckland which opened today. The event has attracted 500 tech and business leaders, including 200 from overseas, and has been organised by NZTech and Conferenz.
“Technology has transformed many industries but much of the basic infrastructure we use as a society has changed little. Think how clunky RealMe is, the New Zealand government’s single sign-in (forgot your password again?)
“In fact, for financial services change is glacial, the first online cheque account was created in 1995 by Wells Fargo, the first mobile payment was made by Text massage to a Coca Cola vending machine in 1997 and Google Wallet was actually first released in 2011.
“But from an aspirational perspective change is coming, and its coming faster than ever, with New Zealand ready to make giant leaps in the coming years in AI, AR, food science, autonomous vehicles and green technology.
“New Zealand, along with tech superstar Dubai, has being named in the top 10 countries in the world poised to move to driverless cars, according to KPMG’s Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index.
“The Dubai autonomous transport strategy aims for a quarter of the cars on roads to become driverless by 2030, so one can only assume that the New Zealand Transport Agency has concrete plans to match this audacious and futuristic goal.
“One area of excitement for me is the stratospheric goals of some Kiwi businesses in green technology processing power, think GPU server farms using renewable energy and providing load balancing benefits to the New Zealand electricity industry whilst supplying processing power to international AI projects.
“Or how about vertical farming for our cities following the global trend. Money, from the likes of Japan’s top tier SoftBank Vision Fund, is pouring into this market.
“Growing hydroponic vegetables in 10 storey buildings on the edge of the city with no insecticides, or logistical issues associated with traditional farms. In the US it can take up to a week to get that lettuce to the supermarket alone.
“Then couple that with meat-free look and taste alike products such as New Zealand based SunFed meats bringing disruption to the New Zealand farming industry and globally to the $US90 billion meat market. One thing that looks extremely likely is that New Zealand has a genuine opportunity to be at least partially meat-free by 2030 whilst consuming a wide array of vegetables “farmed” by innovative, ecologically friendly technology businesses.”
Flounders says the future is bright for many industries as technology transforms the landscape of New Zealand society. For financial services he looks forward to ubiquitous mobile payments hopefully around the corner and at the very least not having to call up an 0800 number when the bank makes a mistake.
|| A makeLemonade release || February 19, 2018 |||
His systems implementation lesson remains to be learned.
Gordon Hogg who died recently personified the era in which New Zealand could lay claim to be among the most advanced nations, if not the most advanced, in terms of large scale networked computerisation.
At the cusp of the 1960s/70s Gordon Hogg as the head of Databank implemented the world’s first nationwide bank cheque clearing system. From the outset it worked to specification and became for a generation the country’s pre-eminent technological showcase.
It was owned and run by the clearing banks of the era and for almost its entire existence was under the unchallenged direction of Mr Hogg.
He was New Zealand’s first technocrat. A big-picture man he had taken a number of bold decisions and foremost among them was to engage IBM as supplier instead of Burroughs (now Unisys) which was then the recognised banking supplier.
From his eerie atop Databank House in Boulcott Street, he also established Wellington’s first US-style corporate office.
Eschewing the conventional desk centrepiece Mr Hogg arranged himself around a lavish hotel suite layout, thus eliminating the desk barrier which office psychologists were starting to identify as an obstacle to the free exchange of ideas.
Outside were arrayed his lieutenants, all specialists in their fields.
Possessed of matinee idol good looks, imposing height, and a suave yet friendly manner Mr Hogg’s personality permeated this, for New Zealand, very large organisation.
He ran it as a benevolent fiefdom.
On one occasion his own house was under re-decoration and one of the tradespeople without knowing who Hogg was confessed that what he really wanted to do was work in the computer sector.
Admiring the young man’s craftsmanship, Hogg put him into a career at Databank.
The question raised to this day by Databank is this. How did such a gigantic and pioneering computerised set-up perform as it should have done from the get-go?
Other subsequent and far less innovative institutional large scale networked systems in contrast continue to stutter and stall at implementation with each party blaming the other for non-performance.
In the cool mists of time we can now define some indicators.
The central one is Gordon Hogg’s surprise selection of IBM as the supplier.
At this time IBM globally had in the slogan of the era “bet the company” on the success of its 360 mainframe series, quite different from anything that had gone before.
Gordon Hogg always knew that IBM therefore had to guarantee the success of what would become a central global reference site for this very series.
In other words, IBM would have to keep its feet to the fire and always be ready in terms of deploying its high-level technical expertise onto the project as and when it was required.
There would be no distractions. No dilution of available expertise then or in the future.
“Big systems, doing big things,” was a Gordon Hogg motto and as it turned out, a highly workable one.
Feb 15, 2018 - Distinguished Professor Mike Steel has been elected as a distinguished Fellow of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB).
Dist Prof Steel’s main research focus is phylogenetics, which uses mathematics to come up with better ways of reconstructing evolutionary relationships between species based on genetic data. His research interests are applications of discrete mathematics (combinatorics, graph theory) and probability theory to contemporary problems in biology.
Dist Prof Steel’s citation is for “outstanding contributions to mathematical and computational phylogenetics, and for service to the academic evolutionary biology research community."
The ISCB is a large international body that runs leading bioinformatics conferences and is active in mainstream journals such as Bioinformatics. Fellowships are awarded for “outstanding contributions to the fields of computational biology and bioinformatics”.
Since 2010, only around eight people have been elected each year, based on nominations by ISCB members and peer review. With nearly all ISCB Fellows based in North America, Europe or Asia, Dist Prof Steel appears to be the first New Zealander to receive this award and possibly the first Fellow elected from the Southern Hemisphere. He will be part of the ISCB fellow class that increases now to 67 members.
Dist Prof Steel, who won the 2014 UC Research Medal for leading work in phylogenetics and in autocatalytic networks, is director of the Biomathematics Research Centre hosted within UC’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics and is a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.
He will be recognised for his contributions to computational biology and bioinformatics at the ISCB’s annual international conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB) in Chicago, Illinois, 6-8 July, 2018.
| A University of Canterbury release || February 15, 2018 |||
Feb 13, 2018 - New technology from a student-led research project at Victoria University of Wellington looks set to revolutionise the way geotechnical engineers monitor and predict landslides, potentially helping to save countless lives and cut costs.
Engineering and Computer Science student Jonathan Olds was looking for a research project for his Master’s and his supervisor, Professor of Network Engineering in the School of Engineering and Computer Science Winston Seah, suggested developing and testing an automated solution for the long-term monitoring of landslides. The result of that research is AccuMM, which Jonathan validated with a pilot installation in Taiwan.
image004.png“The holy grail of managing landslide risk is prediction,” says Nick Willis, Viclink’s Commercialisation Manager, Engineering, who is working with the researchers to bring the product to market. “But predictions can only be made if movement—or, more importantly, the acceleration of land mass—can be measured right down to the number of millimetres per day, over a long period of time.”
He says the traditional method of measurement involves sending a surveyor or engineer out into the field each day to measure land movement with theodolites—a manual, costly process. Even the higher tech options involving robots or drones are costly or have their drawbacks.
AccuMM uses low-cost solar or battery-powered wireless GPS sensors together with a unique, cloud-based algorithm to calculate the location of each sensor, relative to a fixed-base station. This enables daily measurements to be taken at multiple points on a landslide without the need for site visits, with no line-of-sight or cabling requirements, and no need for intervention at the site for five or more years.
Following the pilot in Taiwan, the technology is now being trialled closer to home in areas where landslides have occurred, including monitoring the transport corridors in Kaikoura, Kāpiti Coast and Wellington.
“Approximately 66 million people—one percent of the world’s population—are currently in high-risk landslide areas,” says Mr Willis “Add to that events such as global warming, changing rainfall patterns and aging infrastructure and it’s not hard to see the increasing need for this kind of technology.”
Professor Seah says, “By exploiting the similarity in wireless channel conditions between sensors placed in close proximity, we are able to achieve a high degree of accuracy compared with much higher cost systems. We can power the wireless network by energy harvesting, which means our system can operate for long duration to meet the monitoring needs of geotechnical engineers.”
Viclink is targeting the product at geotechnical engineering companies that undertake long-term analysis and monitoring of landslide risk, as AccuMM measures but does not interpret the data or send real-time alerts.
| A Victoria University release || February 13, 2018 |||
Feb 13, 2018 - Some of the world’s leading tech experts, including tech Ministers from other countries, will attend a coding session with a bunch of young New Zealand’s school children at the Young Coders Showcase during the international Digital Nations tech summit in Auckland next week.
International and New Zealand tech leaders, social innovators, future thinkers and maybe even the Prime Minister will get a coding lesson from students at sessions from New Zealand's leading initiatives to get kids involved with coding – Code Club Aotearoa, Code Avengers and OMG Tech.
The February 19 and 20 summit – organised by NZTech and Conferenz – is the biggest ever global tech summit held in New Zealand and is a lead-up event to the world's leading digital nations D5 meeting in Wellington on February 21. D5 is a network of the world’s most advanced digital nations.
NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says New Zealand is recognised globally as being leaders in getting kids to code.
“The new education curricula introduced this year has all year one students learning about digital technology. Initiatives like these will help support teachers and schools as the demand for skills increase faster than we can prepare the teachers. It’s great to see the government buying into the massive impact of technology,” Muller says.
“NZTech and initiatives like Code Club Aotearoa, OMG Tech and Code Avengers believe the new curricula will expedite the tech-digital knowledge that every child needs for future employment,” Muller says.
Code Club already teaches more than 4000 New Zealand children how to code with 273 clubs operating nationwide from Whangarei to Bluff.
One of the goals of the Digital Nations summit is to figure out the actions needed to create a Kiwi digital nation by 2030. Teaching kids to code is one way to create a digital nation, empower our next generation, and to help Aotearoa fulfill its potential.
The, Digital Nations 2030 summit is the biggest and most important international tech conference ever to be staged in New Zealand and will help pave the way for faster advances in the Kiwi economy.
Muller says the conference will cover every aspect of how New Zealand and global digital economies are shaping. The event has attracted more than 500 delegates including D5 Ministers and their delegations, invited international experts and New Zealand digital leaders and influencers representing all sectors.