Andrew Cushen takes Australia

Recently, I had the pleasure of being able to attend the Australia and New Zealand Internet Awards (the ANZIAs) and the Australian Internet Governance Forum meetings.

These events are handy points of collaboration with our neighbours in the .AU. Many of the issues that we are dealing with in promoting the Internet's benefits and uses and protecting its potential are similar between Australia and New Zealand, and collaborating with the good people at AUDA gives us a chance to compare our approaches, and reflect on what might be happening next.

That's the purpose of this post - what can we learn from the Australian environment, and how we can get the most out of our attendance at events such as these.

Firstly, I found the ANZIAs to be quite inspirational. You can find information about the full range of winners on the ANZIA website including New Zealand's own RealMe service as the winner of the Security and Online Safety category. 

The winners of the Access and Digital Skills category caught my eye as a good bunch to talk with more, with the Get Up to Speed programme developed by The Training Collective (http://www.getuptospeed.com.au/). The Training Collective was started up by two New Zealand women, who while they have found success in the programmes they have created in AU, are keen to find ways to leverage this back into NZ. Given the strong parallels with what they're doing, and our goal to increase the use and penetration of the internet into New Zealand Small and Medium businesses, I was glad to meet these people and intend to follow up with what we can do to bring their learning here. 

Secondly, the auIGF covered a very interesting set of topics, some of which are particularly pertinent to NZ. Just like our NetHui, the auIGF takes its inspiration from the global Internet Governance Forum model, which Jordan has just visited in Turkey (and I'm sure will be sharing more about next week). Some of the particular topics from this that were relevant are:

  • Rural connectivity - admittedly, Australia has another category again in terms of rural, being those users that are well and truly remote. What I saw in this session was a great degree of community leadership in how different remote communities have got around the inherent challenges in providing connectivity in such locations, and what can be done to further enhance this. I have been reflecting on this further in light of the Government's commitment to extend the Rural Broadband Initiative via a contestable, community led model, and when I look to AU I think that model has a lot of potential. At InternetNZ, we will be building off the suggestion from NetHui of building a Rural Connectivity Cookbook (perhaps for want of a better name!) to provide communities with guidance as to their options for connectivity solutions; I will be looking to some of these Australian examples as inspiration as we develop that. 
  • Death and online - we all know that the internet brings up new challenges. One of those not often talked about challenges is with regard to death, and how we both remember people in an online context, but also in how we deal with some of the new "property" considerations about what exactly happens to content in the event of someone passing. In the offline world, photo albums were large, physical things - the sort of things that you made sure you took with you in a fire, but also the sort of things that were passed on from generation to generation. What does it mean when Facebook is the online equivalent of this physical photo album, and how do we respectfully preserve these memories? A key input into this workshop was this paper from ACCAN too:https://accan.org.au/grants/completed-grants/466-department-of-informati... which I encourage you to read if you wish to learn more.
  • Metadata retention - this one is a little more scary, and if I was a betting man I would predict is likely to be on our Government's agenda following the election too. The Australian Federal Government has mandated that all communications providers will keep record of all metadata for two years, in order to assist law enforcement and counter-terrorism activity. The Government there has not been awfully transparent about how this will happen, or the terms upon which information will be retained - and given just how much you can learn from metadata alone, that worries me. If we see this on the agenda here, you can expect InternetNZ to be active.

More about the agenda for the auIGF and its programme can be found here:http://www.igf.org.au/venue-schedule. If I am allowed to be parochial for a moment, I still think our NetHui does it better - but still plenty to be learned, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to learn it.