Speech to Lightning Lab GovTech launch

  • Hon Clare Curran
Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Government Digital Services

Kia ora koutou, good evening everyone, and thank you to Creative HQ for the invitation to be here and help celebrate the launch of your accelerator programme. The growing activity in GovTech in New Zealand has the potential to drive better and more people-focused government services through digital technologies.

And to also grow New Zealand’s success and leadership in this part of the tech sector. That sits well with the Government’s desire to do things differently. We are a Government that places people’s well-being at the heart of what we do.

We aim to make ICT the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025 but we also realise our achievement as a country must include social success. My second goal in the digital space is to close the digital divides so people can access the internet regardless of geography or income.

We need to be innovative and look at how we can make our services more effective and accessible in a digital-rich world. Our tech sector employs around 100,000 people or roughly 5 per cent of the workforce, and contributes $16.2 billion of GDP.  It is the 3rd largest export sector and this Government would like to lift this higher.

Having the right sort of environment for initiatives like this accelerator programme, can help speed up this growth.

A focus on GovTech and innovation can also bring fresh approaches to procurement and help government agencies and smaller firms work together.

Innovation and preparation

By participating in this accelerator you’re part of a vibrant and growing network of service innovation across government. Technology is transforming the world in fundamental ways, altering people’s expectations of how things are done.

Both government and businesses need to try new things, and find new ways of working, to keep pace with the rate of change. Innovation is crucial.

I know Lightning Lab is one of several labs across government that works with partners – including private sector tech partners - to design and test innovative solutions and I am excited to see what projects you have selected for the coming year. I see the Lightning Lab GovTech approach as an exciting way to start solving the problems we’re facing and create market opportunities for our businesses as we go.

The public/private collaboration can create scalable and repeatable models that we can roll out on wider stages.

Digital Identity

As well as the government goals around closing digital divides and the digital economy this Government sees digital rights, digital inclusion, and a digital strategy as priorities for New Zealand. The foundation for all of these is digital identity.

I’m particularly interested to see that digital identity is one of the projects you will be looking at in the lab, including DIA’s Digital Identity Project. The project will look at what personal information is needed to provide different levels of identity.

This will then inform system-wide government work on improving the use of personal identity information.

An example – MyTrove

One project looking at how personal identity information can be used to help people is DIA’s myTrove. As part of the discovery phase work on the Department of Internal Affairs ‘End of Life project’, concerns were raised about the stress points faced by the executor of a will.

Public Trust research shows it typically takes at least 50 hours to close down accounts with service providers and public sector agencies. myTrove is a private sector start-up which helps bereaved New Zealanders manage a deceased estate.

It lets you notify several key government agencies at once that someone has died and the service is free. When you use it, the service will start the process to cancel a passport; close a tax account and prevent any benefit payments. This will speed up the tidying up of affairs of loved ones after they pass away. 

myTrove is still in start-up mode however there have been hundreds of notifications to date which has eased the burden on loved ones left behind.  DIA has assisted with both in-kind support and one year of funding for myTrove.

International GovTech and leadership

I visited Singapore recently and looked at their new Digital Government Blueprint. They want 90-95 per cent of transactions with government to be digital by 2023. We can learn from Singapore and other countries of course, but we are also in a great position to take our own uniquely Kiwi leadership position in GovTech.

New Zealand’s first Chief Technology Officer will be appointed soon – most likely next month. One of their first tasks will be to lead the development of a digital strategy that includes innovation in government and GovTech.  

New Zealand’s also part of the Open Government Partnership. As a member we want to be more transparent, increase civic participation and use new technologies to make our government more open, effective, and accountable.

Technology and innovation are important enablers of increasing transparency and public participation in government decision making. 

I’m working with Ministers across government to develop our next Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.  This includes identifying ways that we can use technology and digital innovation to make information more useable and broaden public participation.

Closing comments …

I have a challenge for you here today and for others working in the GovTech space. What are your ideas on how we adapt, collaborate, and innovate, and ensure that everyone benefits from digital? How do we ensure everyone benefits from the opportunities presented by digital evolution?

Government doesn’t have a monopoly on answers. We need to do this together because it’ll take all of us to build an inclusive, transparent, and prosperous digital nation.

In closing, to Creative HQ, thank you for bringing this accelerator to life. And to the teams that are starting your journey, I applaud your action to tackle important problems and bring fresh ideas and approaches to the work of government for all New Zealanders.

I look forward to hearing more about your projects in due course.