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James RosenwaxJames Rosenwax says Auckland should focus on agility and the knowledge economy as it continues to emerge as a dynamic global city.

Rosenwax leads Aecom’s Australia and New Zealand cities practice. He recently authored a report on using innovation to transform Australian cities.

He says Auckland is already on the radar for many of the world’s major companies.

The Economist Intelligence Unit rates Auckland as the world’s eighth most liveable city. Yet Rosenwax says being seventh on the Jones Lang LaSalle Investment Intensity Index is more important.

“The JLL index is a measure of a city’s ability to attract investment from global corporations”, he says.

Read the full story by Bill Bennett in the New Zealand Herald.

Sixty-nine chief executives responded to an open-ended question as to what they would like to see from the Labour Shadow Finance Minister Grant Robertson in terms of policy.

“Continue to constrain public expenditure to core and effective services,” advised Unitec CRO Rick Ede. “Reset taxation and investment incentives to favour productive investment instead of property investment.

“Continue the investment approach to welfare services begun by Bill English.”

Many, but not all, of the themes on Robertson’s own priority list resonate with the boardroom. With 67 per cent per cent of CEOs predicting technological advances will be the single factor with the biggest impact on business in the next five years and a further 7 percent singling out job losses through technology, it is clear Robertson’s Future of Work initiative falls on fertile ground.

Read the full story by Bill Bennett in the New Zealand Herald.

Robertson’s four priorities:

• Find ways for industry to add value and diversify the economy: lift productivity and add value to primary industry and invest more in R&D.

• Focus on regional development and lift wages outside the main centres. Auckland’s infrastructure and housing is under pressure. Housing costs less in the regions but there are not enough good jobs.

• Future of Work project to address the challenge of technology-led change head-on.

• Share the rewards from prosperity: many people work hard and yet they don’t earn enough to buy a house.

“When I attend a business dinner, the conversation often turns to inequality. Many business leaders are concerned about this. They realise it can mean both a loss of potential and it can become a drain on the economy. Even organisations like the OECD, which is hardly a left-wing body, recognises that inequality inhibits growth,” says Robertson.

Overseas tech skillsOverseas readers wanted to know how New Zealand is filling its tech industry vacancies. Here is my story published earlier this year in London-based Computer Weekly. 

Wellington is as far as you can fly from Heathrow before you start coming back. New Zealand’s capital is almost 19,000km and at least 24 hours away. The city is small by European standards, with only 200,000 people calling it home.

And yet Wellington is a regional technology hub. It is the nation’s biggest technology user and the government is based there. Wellington is also home to Weta Workshop, established by director Peter Jackson to create computer graphics for The Lord of the Rings movies. It is where New Zealand technology entrepreneur Rod Drury began Xero, the small business accounting software-as-a-service market leader. Dozens of small tech startups inhabit buildings all over the small South Pacific city.

Read more in New Zealand calls for tech specialists at Computer Weekly

Computer Forensics managing director Brian Eardley-Wilmot says his business has seen a rise in computer crime over the last year.

His company is often called in to investigate data theft and other intellectual property crimes. He says there are now more than 100 data crimes each day in New Zealand.

Cybercrimes committed by outsiders are headline news. The media loves images of masked hackers hunched over darkened keyboards. Yet the reality is that inside jobs are more common, often more serious and usually committed in broad daylight.

Insiders have trusted access. They have more idea of what to look for. They know where they might find it.

It is often hard to know when someone inside your organisation compromises your systems. Often the first sign is when you find money is missing or when your best clients switch their business to a new company set up by your former employee.

Client lists and pricing information are among the most commonly stolen data. Computer crime is mainly about intellectual property theft, but it can include any unauthorised computer use.

Insiders who steal intellectual property usually store files on a USB memory stick. In most cases they leave a trail.

That’s where Computer Forensics can help. After 17 years of following those trails, Eardley-Wilmot and his team know where to find evidence of  data crimes.

He says: “Companies frequently know when they have a problem – people’s instincts are usually correct. But managers are loathe to undertake a full investigation before they feel quite sure, because of the cost and disruption.”

To get around this reluctance, Computer Forensics has come up with a new service called CheckIT.

If, say, a manager or business owner suspects someone has committed a crime, they can ask for an exploratory examination of a computer, hard drive or device.

They tell Computer Forensics what they think might be going on. Investigators then poke around looking for clues.

Eardley-Willmot says: “We come back with indicative information that essentially says yes, you’re right and you should move to a full investigation, or no, there isn’t a problem”.

“If there is no sign of any wrongdoing, then the company has saved the cost of a formal forensic investigation and can be confident that no offence has occurred.

“If we are instructed to conduct a full forensic investigation, to provide incontestable evidence, we are forearmed with the knowledge that the investigation will be successful.”

Eardley-Wilmot says there are four areas where CheckIT can be used – to both reveal and deter cybercrime:
* When a key employee resigns and you have concerns
* When incontestable evidence of misconduct is needed
* When an employee is specifically suspected of wrongdoing
* When a random audit of computers and mobile devices can discourage cyber-crime.

No plan to prepare for digital age

Xero managing director Anna Curzon writes in for Stuff:

“It’s about time digital technology was recognised as an important topic of education because it’s crucial we prepare our next generation for tomorrow’s world.”

Someone could have written the same words any time in the last 40 years. It’s not a new idea. People said the same when I was at school in the 1970s. We ran similar comments when I edited The Dominion’s Computer Pages in the 1980s.

The idea is no more crucial today than it was before. Imagine how many Xeros, Vends and Orions we could have now if government listened then.

The difference is that we now have a vibrant home-grown technology sector to show the benefits technology-savvy citizens can bring.

Role models

We also now have successful role models; articulate industry leaders able to argue the case for technology. Curzon is one of them.

They run companies that bring in valuable export dollars. Their contribution to the economy is more reliable than the bust-boom cycles from, say, the dairy industry.

That alone should get them a hearing.

It’s chilling that after the effort industry leaders and others have put into explaining this, the Minister of Education and her officials ignored them.

There’s always a danger when industries push sector-based education agenda. It would be a disaster if, say, dairy leaders talked schools into adding dairy-farming to the curriculum.

Yet digital technology is hardly special pleading. It is as fundamental to the 21st century as reading, writing and arithmetic. These days digital technology is reading, writing and arithmetic.