Collaboration has been added as the fourth objective to the New Zealand government's draft Digital Strategy 2.0, an issue that was highlighted in several submissions to the original 2005 Strategy.
The Digital Strategy 2.0 document, released for consultation by the Ministry of Economic Development last week, adds collaboration as a fourth C-word objective alongside fast reliable connection, content development and confidence among New Zealanders in using the internet.
Collaboration was a strong point in several submissions to the first version of the Digital Strategy, which saw too much emphasis on content providers broadcasting information in a one-to-many way to a community of consumers.
Since the first version of the Strategy was produced in 2005, so-called Web 2.0 applications have brought the collaborative potential of the internet to the forefront of public consciousness.
"We will need to see collaboration between firms that operate or deliver goods and services in a digital environment, the providers of technology, and the rest of the economy," says the new Strategy draft.
Providers of digital technologies have a commercial imperative to collaborate. They can partner with each other in developing ICT capability, accessing finance and responding to government procurement, not to mention branding and accessing global markets.
"We have seen a new spirit of collaboration, particularly in the telecommunications sector, following the 2006 regulatory reforms," the document says. The planned single industry body for the ICT sector is also an important signal for collaboration, which will benefit from electronic assistance, the draft says.
Outside business, communities can better express and share their ideas and communicate with government agencies. All-of-government collaboration among those agencies is already an established direction in the e-government sphere.
Collaborative tools also offer an opportunity to strengthen Maori identity and for Maori to assist one another to achieve greater facility with digital technology, the document says.
There is also a non-specific commitment, under the "connection" heading, to "develop and implement mechanisms designed to accelerate investment in broadband infrastructure."
Those, such as Wellington City Council, who missed out on Broadband Challenge funding in 2006 are not holding their breath for a second tranche of funds, however. The Ministry of Economic Development is holding its cards close to its chest on this point; saying "the 'tbc' [in the "funding" column of the draft opposite this entry] is there for a reason.
"There isn't anything we can say at this point in time," says the MED.
Large parts of the document are devoted to recording government's achievements to date, including telecommunications market reforms and a developing national code for utilities' access to major transport routes to install broadband links collaboratively.
Communications Minister David Cunliffe has called for submissions on the draft, which has been placed on a wiki site, allowing members of the public to edit and annotate it.
"The Digital Future Summit 2.0 in November last year challenged us to think harder about getting the full social, environmental and economic value from ICT. This draft strategy therefore drives harder to define the productivity, community and sustainability outcomes enabled by ICT," Cunliffe said last week. Conventional submissions have also been requested for a May 12 deadline.
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