Debating the potential for online voting in New Zealand saw a room divided at day two of NetHui,with some calling it an essential and inevitable next step for democracy, and others concerned it was unworkable due to problems with keeping the ballot secure.
In a wide ranging discussion led by David Farrar, author of Kiwiblog and member of the Government’s working party on online voting, there was cautious support for taking a careful approach to allowing voting to move online, with the aim of eventually introducing it for local body elections.
Innovation Partnership Chair Murray Sherwin said that the Partnership hoped that the planned trial of online voting for the 2016 local body elections would be an opportunity to allow expats, young people, and people with access issues greater opportunity to take part in the democratic process.
The NetHui participants talked about the need to use online platforms not only for voting, but for increasing overall engagement with government and democracy.
The discussion at NetHui comes on the back of a recent Massey University survey showing that young people felt that being able to cast their vote online would be more of an incentive to vote than a $50 payment would be.
The survey of 18 to 24 year olds gauged their attitudes to the upcoming general election. Of the respondents who indicated they did not intend to vote, 75 per cent said they would be more likely to vote if online voting was introduced, while only 51 per cent said they would be motivated by a $50 payment.
Massey University politics lecturer Dr Damien Rogers has said of his research that the results reflected the level to which technology shaped the lives of young people, who expected to be able to engage with government and politics online.
Kiwi businesses could add $34 billion to the economy simply by making better use of the internet, according to research presented by the Innovation Partnership at NetHui today.
The research, The Value of Internet Services to New Zealand Businesses, was funded by Innovation Partnership members Internet New Zealand and Google, and conducted by Sapere Research Group.
It shows that businesses that extensively use Internet services are six per cent more productive than average businesses in their industry. Compared to low-users, heavy Internet users are a massive 73 per cent more productive.
Getting all New Zealand businesses to make the most of the Internet could add $34 billion to the economy through increased productivity and efficiency.
Murray Sherwin, Chair of the Innovation Partnership, said the Internet could have been purpose-built for New Zealand, yet many businesses aren’t using it to its full potential.
“We talked to businesses across New Zealand, from the tourism and retail sectors, to dairy farmers and professional services businesses,” Mr Sherwin said.
“While we found that the Internet is having a positive impact on productivity, too many businesses aren’t using the tools available to unlock the Internet’s potential.
“Businesses need to adopt easy-to-access and cost-effective tools such as cloud-based business systems and transformative online supply chain management. Doing so can drastically increase their productivity and, ultimately, improve their bottom lines.
“We know that the real difference for business lies not just in being connected, but in how effectively they use the Internet to rethink and reorganise the way they do things.”
“Businesses like the Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park demonstrate just how much of an impact using the Internet effectively can have on a typical Kiwi business.
“Kiwi businesses like these are using the Internet to find new customers, improve their business data-gathering and market-targeting, and facilitate customer interaction with real-time online services.”
To help businesses make the most of the Internet, the Innovation Partnership has launched digitaljourney.co.nz a tool to help businesses make the most of online services and tools.
Digital Journey has been developed by the Digital Office, a New Zealand not-for-profit organisation focused on increasing use of digital services, with funding from Internet New Zealand and Google.
Digital Journey assesses a business’ unique situation and provides a digital action plan with clear steps to harness the potential of the Internet. Once their assessment is complete, they can check back in to update their progress and look for the next actions in their plan.