NZ Fry Up: NZ schools’ internet use; 5G for the public sector; NZ consumer data right coming

New Zealand IT, tech, and telco news and views from our editor in Auckland.

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Profile of NZ schools’ internet use

The stats are in on the online habits of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most voracious internet users—our schools. According to Network for Learning (N4L), which connects more than 2,450 schools and kura, they are the largest consumers of daytime internet in the country. N4L’s latest report looks at the internet use of students and teachers in the second half of last year, from 20 July to 18 December 2020.

There was a 32% jump in data consumption between the first and second halves of 2020 (probably reflecting the COVID-19 lockdowns), and secondary school students use 2.5 times more data each day than primary students. Smaller schools consume more data than larger schools, with the biggest users on the West Coast, where students use 375MB a day.

Almost a quarter of web traffic (24%) came from streaming media sites such as YouTube, Apple, and Netflix, but the popular TikTok site represented less than 1% of traffic on N4L’s network. In terms of educational sites, the most time was spent on collaboration platforms such as Hāpara Teacher Dashboard, Seesaw, and Google Suite for Education. Language learning websites were favoured over online maths educations.

And just as the 855,000 ākonga (students) and 55,000 kaiako (educators) are making the most of N4L, so too are the hackers—or they are trying their best to: N4L blocks 2.3 million online security threats every day, or 1,592 each minute.

Combatting the ever-increasing range and volume of attacks that occur on N4L’s network is a task that falls to CISO Gavin Costello, and his team which includes Clayton Hubbard, who spoke to CIO New Zealand about the complexity of protecting schools from cyberattacks. “Schools are self-governing entities. They are little cities. You’re taking 10, 50, or 100 households and sticking them all into one location with no real governance and no strict standards across it. When you go into a corporate environment, you [the employee] come in and go through a code of conduct. If you do a bad thing, we fire you. Well, you can’t fire kids,” Hubbard says.

5G for CIOs in the public sector

It feels like we’ve been waiting for 5G forever, and of course the telcos keep us up to date every time they connect a town or city. But it isn’t making too much of a difference to anything—yet. Analyst firm Forrester notes in its latest global survey of 5G use cases that many of the telcos’ 5G examples can be supported by 4G or other broadband technologies.

Even so, according to Forrester, public sector CIOs should see 5G as a way to drive cost savings, improve citizen engagement, and develop new services. Which is pretty much BAU you would have thought. Although Forrester does suggest that collaboration between sectors and countries will help us all make the most of 5G, noting that in Australia “a Parliamentary inquiry into the acceleration of 5G adoption recommended considering manufacturing partnerships with Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.”

These countries are all aligned under the Five Eyes spy arrangement. But, as Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control Phil Twyford has pointed out, discussions that occur with our fellow Five Eyers are not necessarily related to the Five Eyes framework.

And as public sector CIOs ponder what to make of 5G, there is talk of 6G, according to Forrester. Although there is no clear definition of what 6G is—it could see speeds of around 95Gbps—it’s on the radar of the “military world” and, according to Forrester, China: “Wang Xi, China’s vice minister for science and technology, has said it’s not yet clear how the government would apply 6G or what its key indicators are. But China attaches high importance to the research and development of these future technologies and is striving to make breakthroughs,” the report says.

Consumer data right to be ushered in

Finally, finally New Zealand is to get a consumer data right (CDR). That is, the capability to instruct banks, telcos, and power companies to safely share our data when we want to hop between different providers. Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark says the government intends to introduce legislation to establish a CDR in 2022. This is after a lot of discussion, including whether it would be part of the Privacy Act 2020 (no), and if it is to be in line with Australian law (yes).

What has yet to be answered is what sector will be the first to be designated under CDR legislation. In submissions to the government paper on the CDR, the incumbent companies all appeared keen to get to the back of the queue, while their challenger brands had the opposite view.

For example, Trustpower, an incumbent in electricity but a challenger in telco (although it now intends to sell its retail arm to Mercury Energy), noted: “While we have already seen improvements in the electricity sector as a result of consumers having the ability to share their consumption data with those they trust, as well as reaping the benefits of a world-class switching process, the same cannot be said about the telecommunications sector.”

Whatever sector is first up, it will likely fall to the IT teams to make it happen, and this will have at least as big an impact as the new privacy legislation introduced late last year. To get the latest clarification on the Privacy Act 2020, check out CIO New Zealand’s interview with Privacy Commissioner John Edwards.

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