5 min read

Waikato University taps Spark Health for workforce project

Spark inks another deal with the University of Waikato. One NZ name to show on Christchurch's new stadium. Lower cost AI phones.
Spark CEO, Jolie Hodson and University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley.
Spark CEO, Jolie Hodson and University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley.

A partnership deal between Waikato University and Spark Health will explore innovation opportunities. The two say they will also work on developing what they call a “future focused” health workforce.

This may include an immersive health technology and innovation hub at the University’s Hamilton campus.

The move represents a deepening of the relationship between Spark and the university. In April Spark took over the on-campus data centre.

University of Waikato Pro Vice-Chancellor of Health, Professor Joseph Lane, says: “We’re particularly interested in exploring the role technology could play in enhancing our students’ learning, enabling health education in regional and rural communities”.

More specific to Spark’s core business, Lane talks of technology’s role in reducing barriers to healthcare access for patients in rural areas.

Te Kaha Stadium to become One New Zealand stadium

A ten year deal between Christchurch City Council, Venues Ōtautahi and One New Zealand will see the Auckland-based telco’s name in lights on what has previously been known as Te Kaha Stadium.

The stadium is currently under construction. One NZ’s naming rights run from 2026 to 2036.

When the stadium opens in 2026, One New Zealand will provide it with coverage and connectivity.

Caroline Harvie-Teare, chief executive of Venues Ōtautahi says: “While the name of the Stadium will now be One New Zealand Stadium, the whenua beneath the venue will remain Te Kaha and the whole precinct will be known as Te Kaharoa being the names gifted to the city by Ngai Tūāhuriri”.

All three carriers to sell Oppo AI phones

Phone maker Oppo says Spark, 2degrees and One New Zealand will all offer the company’s new AI phones when they officially go on sale next week.

The $800 Reno 12 and the $1100 Reno 12 Pro include an AI capability that, until now, has only been available on high-end, expensive devices.

AI features include a Portrait Expert that can ‘enhance’ photos and a tool that can extract and organise summarised text notes from voice recordings.

Globe, Lynk Global sign Philippines LEO deal

Lynk Global signs Philippines deal.

Satellite network operator Lynk Global has signed a deal with Globe Group to provide direct satellite-to-phone services in rural areas of the Philippines. The deal will improve communications coverage in areas that are either unserved or underserved today.

The deal starts this month with a pilot, the partners plan a trial launch for later this year. In the longer term Lynk will provide voice, SMS, IP messaging and emergency alerts.

Lynk is active in New Zealand having partnerships with both 2degrees and Spark. For now Lynk’s coverage is sporadic and restricted to emergency alerts and SMS messaging. It plans to
add voice and mobile broadband services in the future.

There was less New Zealand news than usual this week, thanks to last weekend being a public holiday. To make up for it, here is a feature length essay calling for fresh thinking on the Telecommunications Service Obligation.

In other news...

Netsafe welcomes ‘funding changes reversal’

At the New Zealand Herald Chris Keall writes about the tussle over Netsafe. The agency is meant to be independent, recently saw off a Department of Internal Affairs take over.

Netsafe is an independent non-profit, if largely Crown-funded as the approved agency for the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA) and a lead for cybersafety education in schools. Putting the agency “under the eye of the DIA” could raise freedom of expression and independence concerns.
“One of the major principles behind the HDCA was to keep its administration separate and distinct from the state,” Harvey said. He saw it as a concern that the DIA was, in his view, trying to expand the scope of its interests and operations and put Netsafe under its thumb.

Partners key as Malware Free Networks tops 10 million threat disruptions

Reseller News’ Rob O’Neill has also been working at the point where government meets online security as the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) Malware Free Network service clocked up 10 million threat disruptions.

He quotes Lisa Fong, the GCSB’s deputy director-general responsible for the NCSC:

“MFN’s success is driven by a comprehensive threat intelligence feed, curated from a variety of sources including international cyber security partners, coupled with robust internal analysis and research.”
“Notably, 95 per cent of the disruptions originate from indicators identified through the NCSC’s own analytics and research.”

Unregulated online gambling attracting children, harm prevention agency says

You might well ask where were the well-funded agencies that are supposed to protect young people from online harm when kids racked up serious online gambling debts.

Bella Craig from RNZ reports:

Children as young as 11 are racking up thousands of dollars in debt because of online gambling, according to a support service.
The head of Mapu Maia said it had had an increase in school counsellors and social workers reaching out with concerns of problem online gambling among secondary school students and even some children at intermediate.
The organisation works to prevent harm from online gambling and said more research and support was needed, with offshore gambling websites posing a particular risk.

Australia to build Top Secret cloud in AWS for military and spooky users

Simon Sherwood:

The so-called TS Cloud will apparently be "purpose-built for Australia's Defence and National Intelligence Community agencies to securely host our country's most sensitive information." The cloud is touted as giving Australia the chance to "improve our ability to securely share and analyse our nation's most classified data at speed and at scale, and provides opportunities to harness leading technologies including artificial intelligence and machine learning."
Australia's defence comms networks will apparently become more resilient as a result of the deal, improving the nation's war-fighting capacity.
Another promised benefit is support for "greater interoperability and deeper collaboration with the United States." Officials have stated that the cloud will be fully sovereign – but details of what's been done to make that a reality are absent.

The sovereignty question was at the top of my list when I read the headline. Sherwood expands on the idea in his story, but doesn’t get a complete picture. One thing is for certain, this will bind Australia much closer to AWS.

Agritech Industry Commits to Shared Future Despite Government Austerity

Official press release from AgritechNZ:

“The government's focus on efficiencies has cut so deep that it risks our collective capabilities and momentum in global partnerships,” said Brendan O’Connell, CEO of industry umbrella group AgriTechNZ, representing 180 member organisations generating most of the sector’s $2 billion in revenue.
“While we acknowledge the need to eliminate wasteful spending, these cuts have hindered balanced collaborations between industry and government. The cuts remove muscle and not just fat.”

New Zealand’s Agritech sector is a shining star. At times it feels as if it is more feted overseas than at home. Sure, there are dozens of industry sectors who could use government funds to good effect, but cutting the Agritech budget is a false economy.

Miss AI beauty contest, watch your (fake) WiFi

Miss AI competition entries.

Hear me on RNZ talking about some of this week’s quirkier and interesting technology stories including an Australian who set up fake WiFi networks on flights to capture data.

NZ is moving closer to digital IDs – it’s time to rethink how we protect our valuable data

Markus Luczak-Roesch, the Professor of Informatics and Chair in Complexity Science at Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington writes about last week’s launch of the Trust Framework Authority.

Digital ID is only one aspect of a wider digital economy. We have to consider more systematically how we develop new digital services and who develops them.
Our new report, collaboratively produced by researchers from the Veracity Technology Spearhead project and the domestic cloud provider Catalyst Cloud, shows how digital ID is tightly interwoven with data management and information flow more generally.
The Download Weekly is supported by Chorus New Zealand.