Budget 2020: Cyber


Budget 2020: Cyber

Cyber investment for economic health and wellbeing

This Budget needs not only shovel-ready projects that build our physical infrastructure, but also digital-ready projects that build the country’s online infrastructure, resilience, and viable digital exports. Realising the outcomes of DHBs, online health services and communications upgrades for Police, Emergency and Ambulance will require “design for resilience”.

As a nation, we proved our inherent resourcefulness and heeded the call to innovate. Creating new online practices and services that fulfilled our social distancing requirements, many organisations went digital overnight. Businesses that anticipated some form of digital disruption fared best during COVID-19.

We look to Budget 2020 to use this lesson in foresight to broaden the benefits of cyber health across our society in order to recover from COVID-19 faster than other countries, and if we dare to imagine, thrive.

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In the same way that we have an ecosystem that enables, stimulates and supports our more traditional economy, it is time to evolve the ecosystem that supports a digital economy and society.  We now need to grow the cyber capabilities, structures and infrastructure required to build a healthy, innovative and resilient digital economy. The Budget’s focus on stimulating recovery through jobs, training and re-education, and e-commerce acceleration for SMEs must be enabled through protecting these investments and capability via cyber resilient platforms that do not fail.

Direct investment for the cyber ecosystem

Government must invest in the cyber ecosystem, creating the structures, channelling of capabilities and delivering scalable solutions that can be used by businesses and government entities.  Prudent and innovative investment by Government can make a material impact for all of us, not just some, and our Kiwi ingenuity can use these structures to create innovative digital businesses.

As shared by the Finance Minister “enabling businesses to grow in a digital age, to trade with a country they might not be able to even visit and to sell new added-value products to the world is essential.” Selling these new value-added services into the global market requires Government to target its investment into business to include investing in essential cyber services to protect, preserve and sustain the gold we create. Likewise, protecting the wellbeing of our communities through the allocated spend on Health, Social Services, Family and Sexual Violence programmes, and communications infrastructure for Police, Fire and Emergency all require common, critical cyber infrastructure so that these digital services, delivery and operations can be maximised, de-risked and cost effective for enduring outcomes.

Much of this Budget relies on acceleration of government-funded projects, creation of new services, and extensive stimulus activity. Digital deployment will make these more efficient and can deliver more at scale. We could see these delivered with more confidence if Government invests for example in digital identity capability:

  • For all New Zealanders: a connected but not integrated identity to improve interactions with government agencies without violating privacy boundaries.
  • For the public service: a workforce-based identity model would support the aims of the Public Service Bill, 2019, by creating the cyber capability for the public service to work as a single system.

Further examples include a highly-specialised cyber intelligence, operations and response centre applying modern technology and architectures; a commercial construct that aims for and measures total life value as opposed to just the lowest price; and a data use approach that moves beyond an overemphasis on the legal requirement for privacy to what is ethically responsible for our people.

These would all support delivering public services more cost effectively.

We need the Government to invest with impact, and to invest in a sustainable way so that this impact is enduring.  Organisations should not need to reinvent the wheel.  A great example of Government’s investing in cyber for all New Zealanders was through Budget 2016, where a $22.2 million was invested to establish the national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). This has meant individuals and organisations of any size can get advice on how to respond to cyber-attacks and guidance for good practice. Rebuilding the economy for New Zealand relies on us being able to operate safely and with trust. We cannot afford for future investment to not be targeted on NZ’s digital and cyber resilience as a means for creating new economic opportunities that will be critical to our success in this new world.

COVID-19 brings the immense challenge of securing a newly digital country in the context of a newly digital world. Now is the time to set the principles by which we can nurture a thriving, fast paced, and “healthy” digital culture that brings along our whole society and ensures the benefits of this evolution can be enjoyed by the whole population. 

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