NZ Fry Up: CDC’s hyperscale data centres; Funding for Māori research, science workforce; National Security Strategy; Input sought on biometrics; Microsoft pledges carbon free data centres

New Zealand IT, tech, and telco news and views from our correspondent in the Central North Island.

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CDC opens two hyperscale data centres

CDC Data Centres (CDC) has opened two data centres in Auckland, which it says are New Zealand’s first hyperscale data centre facilities, as well as the country’s largest and most secure.

According to the company, the data centres, located in Silverdale and Hobsonville, were built specifically for national critical infrastructure providers, have top level government security accreditation, and offer New Zealand data sovereignty.

The data centres feature a “building within a building” design with an interconnected ecosystem and offer guaranteed 100% availability, along with comprehensive physical and procedural security, CDC said.

The facilities are designed to enable organisations to scale without limits and to move seamlessly to hybrid cloud operations.

The data centres will be powered from 100% renewable and carbonzero certified electricity, while a closed-loop cooling system means they will run with almost zero water consumption for cooling, CDC said.

Service providers already using the new facilities include Feenix, Kordia, Vector and Vodafone New Zealand.

Initiatives launched to boost Māori participation in research and science

The New Zealand government has launched a programme to boost the number of Māori in the research, science, and innovation workforce.

The Kanapu programme will be Māori-led and includes a range of initiatives to connect and retain Māori talent in the research workforce, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announced.

The programme also aims to grow the numbers of Māori working in research, science, and innovation, and to help address the unique pressures they face.

The Kanapu programme will help connect Māori researchers across research institutions and will include mentoring and training initiatives to help Māori researchers at different career stages.

The New Zealand government is providing NZ$6.5 million to fund the programme from $33 million allocated towards attracting and growing Māori talent in the research, science, and innovation sector.

The programme will be designed and delivered by New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga at the University of Auckland, supported by a team based at Te Ngira: Institute for Population Research, University of Waikato.

Māori researchers are often under pressure to also provide cultural leadership, on top of their research role, which can lead to burn-out and them leaving the research workforce, Verrall said. Growing a research workforce where the perspectives and expertise of Māori are well represented will help ensure New Zealand has a thriving and talented workforce, Verrall said.

NZ’s National Security Strategy to cover cyberthreats

Cybersecurity is included in the list of threats the New Zealand government aims to address in its first National Security Strategy. The New Zealand Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) opened submissions last week on the National Security Strategy it is developing to help ensure a “more secure and resilient New Zealand”.

The strategy will focus on both current and future national security threats with the aim to develop plans for how the government, communities, private sector, and international partners work together to strengthen the country’s national security system.

The threats to national security the strategy aims to address include terrorism, violent extremism, interference by another country in New Zealand’s democracy, and cyberincidents which affect important computer networks, such as the loss of access to bank accounts, extraction of data and personal records, or disruptions to power supply.

The DPMC is hosting webinars on the National Security Strategy on Thursday, 8 September and Monday, 19 September.

Submissions on the strategy close on 30 September.

Privacy Commissioner encourages input on biometrics

The New Zealand Privacy Commissioner is encouraging New Zealanders share their thoughts on the use of biometric information. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner launched a consultation paper on privacy regulations relating to biometrics in New Zealand last week and is seeking public feedback until 30 September 2022.

In a statement, Privacy Commissioner Michael Webster said that while biometric technologies can have major benefits, including convenience, efficiency, and security, they can also create significant risks, such as risks of surveillance and profiling, lack of transparency and control, and accuracy, bias and discrimination.

Organisations using biometrics need to have appropriate safeguards and protocols.

Webster said submissions on the consultation paper will help “inform the potential drafting of further guidance or rules, enabling organisations to innovate and benefit from emerging technologies while protecting people from harm under the Privacy Act”.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner aims to share its findings after analysing feedback to the paper, along with a proposed regulatory approach by the end of the year.

Microsoft promises carbon free NZ data centres

Microsoft’s upcoming New Zealand cloud region, which will consist of three separate data centres, is set to be 100% powered by carbon free energy.

The company announced last week the data centres will only be using Toitū net carbonzero certified electricity sourced from solar, wind and hydro — supplied by Ecotricity, which claims to be a sustainable electricity retailer.

The local data centres will be water-free and will be using air cooling to store data at the right temperature.

In a blog post, Microsoft New Zealand national technology officer Russell Craig said these moves are in line with the company’s plans to use 100% renewable energy by 2025, as well as to become carbon negative by 2030 and to remove all historical carbon from the environment by 2050.

Microsoft also wants to help other New Zealand organisations accelerate their decarbonisation, Craig said, adding a recent Microsoft report on New Zealand’s progress towards carbon zero found a gap between local businesses’ ambitions on sustainability and their actions.

The report, led by Chris Brauer of Goldsmiths University, found that New Zealand organisations struggled to measure their carbon emissions, which is a key step in managing them.

A Microsoft spokesperson said a date for the opening of the New Zealand data centres cannot yet be announced.

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