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Plan hatched to measure and track NZ's digital domain

Stats NZ and MBIE team up to ensure essential data is collected
Liz MacPherson (Stats NZ)

Liz MacPherson (Stats NZ)

A new plan to measure New Zealand’s evolution into a digital nation has been released by Stats NZ and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Government statistician Liz MacPherson says that the release of a digital nation domain plan is a step towards making sure that essential data is collected to track and understand how new and emerging technologies are affecting New Zealand.

“If we are to understand and respond to the impacts of New Zealand’s digital transformation, we need good data – and that’s what this plan is all about," she said.

“Specifically, we need to improve the way information on our digital industries is collected and co-ordinated, and we need to build a better knowledge of the way digital technologies are impacting the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of New Zealanders."

The domain plan sets strategic priorities for data relating to the digital domain and outlines the four key areas for action. These are digital inclusion, defining and valuing the digital sector, digital security and digital technologies and their impact.

Paul Stocks, deputy chief executive, labour, science and enterprise at MBIE said the data captured will be used to inform future policy decisions and continued investment in New Zealand’s digital economy.

“Our society is becoming increasingly digitised, which leads to many new challenges and opportunities," he said.

"These will require fresh thinking and innovative solutions from digitally literate and equipped Kiwis, and we must make sure that New Zealand remains digitally advanced.

With the changing nature of work, it was fundamental that Kiwis have the skills to understand emerging technologies, and that businesses have access to the right people with the right skills and experience, he added.

“To achieve these goals, we need to understand the value of our digital technology sector to our economy. We cannot do this without accurate measurement approaches."

Capturing and accurately measuring digital economic activity is key, the plan said.

"This challenge is not unique to New Zealand. It includes both capturing the activity and secondly, being able to see the activity within the data that is available. 

"We have the comparative example where the full range of tourism activity cannot be seen in macro-economic estimates (though from a significance point of view is captured in our economic estimates) unless we look at the tourism satellite account, which provides a more detailed view of the macro-economic estimates."

New Zealand’s industry classification, which is similar to the International Standard Industrial Classification of all Economic Activities (ISIC), is not designed to show the growth of the digital economy, separately, the report said.

"For example, the standard definition of information and communications technology (ICT) and the associated SIC codes under this classification have been criticised as being too narrowly defined for this purpose. 

"This raises concerns that we cannot see the true contribution of the digital economy towards New Zealand’s gross domestic product and economic growth.

Another challenging issue is how we measure the social, cultural and environmental impacts that digital technologies have on the general well-being of people.