The Fry Up: Living our best (digital) life, V-shaped recovery, Safe to Playstation, Agritech again

Friday Fry Up is Computerworld New Zealand’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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Living our best (digital) life

Not sure that 17th is something to brag about, but according to the latest Digital Quality of Life index, that’s where New Zealand sits—17th out of 85 countries, in a study by SurfShark (a VPN company). Last year we were ranked at 20, so things are improving. In the survey countries are rated on five measures: internet affordability, internet quality, e-infrastructure, e-security, and e-government. Sources used to inform the survey are taken from speed tests as well as data from the likes of the United Nations, World Economic Forum and World Bank.

While 17th is okay, it’s a mixed bag. New Zealand ranks 11th on internet quality and 10th on e-infrastructure, but only 37th on mobile affordability. Meanwhile, when it comes down to electronic security New Zealand didn’t even make the top 20—at 26, the country lags behind the majority of Europe and Japan, just to name a few.

V-shaped recovery

The average time spent on Stats NZ’s COVID-19 data portal is 14 minutes, and it’s easy to see why, as Fry Up NZ found out, there was plenty of consumable data to chew on. The idea is to present the most current information on what’s up with the economy, health and society. By all means check out the CIO New Zealand article about how it was created.

Buried beneath the economic activity stats for broadband usage, employment and trade is a graph called the New Zealand Activity Index, which has the unlikely acronym NZAC (the ‘C’ being the second letter in ‘Activity’). NZAC is a combination of several financial indicators drawn from public sector sources such as the Reserve Bank and Treasury as well as private sector sources, with the purpose of showing the country’s economic performance on a monthly basis.

It’s worth taken a look because it contains some ‘V’ery good news. Whichever way you slice and dice the dates, it looks like we’re in a V-shaped recovery—steep decline followed by rapid rise. This is, according to those in the know, a better than a U-shaped recovery and infinitely better than an L-shaped one. We can only hope that the V doesn’t morph into the letter to its right in the alphabet.

The long view:

nzac long view 1 October 2003-1 June 2020 Stats NZ

New Zealand Activity Index for 1 October 2003-1 June 2020

The short view:

nzac short view 1 March 2020-1 June 2020 Stats NZ

New Zealand Activity Index for 1 March-1 June 2020

Safe to playstation

Turns out that online gaming doesn’t translate into real-life violence. That’s according to a new study published in the Royal Society Journal this week, which was funded by the Marsden Fund Council and authored by Aaron Drummond, James Sauer and Christopher Ferguson. The study was a ‘meta-analytic examination’ that looked at 28 independent samples which included approximately 21,000 young people.

“Overall, longitudinal studies do not appear to support substantive long-term links between aggressive game content and youth aggression. Correlations between aggressive game content and youth aggression appear better explained by methodological weaknesses and researcher expectancy effects than true effects in the real world,” the authors write.

Agritech again

Once again, our attention turns to agritech, which seems to be hogging the tech spotlight of late. Cited in the Global Genome Start-up report, analysed by TIN 100, and now championed by the New Zealand government in the Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) for the sector that will be assisted by $11.4 million allocated in Budget 2020.

Apparently 500 people were consulted on this new agritech ITP and certainly the report released this week reads as if it was compiled by a committee. It takes a lot of pages to get to the point. One of the issues seems to be trying to ascertain exactly what agritech is, although it is defined up front as follows:

For the purposes of this document, the ‘agritech’ sector refers to manufacturing, biotech and digital-based technology companies that are creating product, service, IP and value chain solutions for the agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture, apiculture and fishing sectors, with the aim of improving yield, efficiency, profitability, sustainability, reliability, quality or adding any other kind of value. Forestry is excluded because forestry and wood processing is the focus of another dedicated ITP.

Meanwhile, the ‘action plan’ is presented about two-thirds of the way into the report. It features three ‘high-impact projects’: a Horticultural Robotics Institute, Hosting Farm2050 Nutrient Initiative and the creation of special agritech venture capital fund (on the back of the $300 million Elevate fund). In addition, there is an ‘ecosystem development plan’ that consists of six workstreams run by five government departments/entities: MFAT, Callaghan Innovation, NZTE, MPT, and MBIE. You might expect them to be doing this work anyway but maybe there is merit in having everything together in one place. We will watch the progress of the agritech ITP with interest.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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