Recent reports continue to reveal that many New Zealanders are being left behind as they strive to engage with an ever-changing and increasingly digital world. This was a challenge recognised 25 years ago when Wellington City Council started attaching fibre cables to trolley bus poles and running Sunday afternoon ‘surfing the web’ classes at Wellington High School. It remains a challenge today with 12 community sectors being recognised in the Government’s Digital Inclusion Blueprint as being amongst the more digitally excluded. So, what are we doing about this, and when will we become a digitally-included society? The sad news is that we will never actually get there. But the good news is that an increasing number of organisations, including government, education, corporate and community, are working collaboratively to build a more digitally-resilient society.
Followed by Keynote Discussion, Chaired by Professor Samuel Mann
Operations Director, Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa
Laurence Zwimpfer is Operations Director for Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa, a not-for-profit community organisation committed to expanding the reach of digital inclusion initiatives so that everyone in New Zealand has equitable opportunities to participate in the digital world.
His background is as a professional engineer with Telecom New Zealand and before that the New Zealand Post Office. For the last 25 years, he has worked in the education and community sectors helping communities engage with digital technologies. He not only promotes the use of digital technologies but is also a champion for the responsible recycling of electronic waste.
He chairs the Advisory Group for Digital Government at Victoria University and manages the delivery of a range of digital inclusion initiatives through over 300 partner organisations.
He is a Harkness Fellow with degrees in Engineering from Canterbury University, Public Policy from Victoria University of Wellington, and Technology and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA. In 2006, the Institution of Professional Engineers in New Zealand (IPENZ) awarded him the Rabone Award for ICT, a Supreme Technical Award for Engineering Achievers and the William Pickering Award for Engineering Leadership. In 2011, he was awarded Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Information Technology.