Campaign seeks collective response to digital divide

Published on 06 May 2020


Far North District Council has launched a campaign that aims to eliminate the district’s digital divide.

Nothing But Net uses a video-based tool that asks how Far North communities can ‘shape our digital future’. The responses will contribute towards the development of a Far North digital strategy.

The innovative approach uses videos to pose questions and gives people the option to upload their own video responses or to reply using voice and text.

The campaign is fronted by Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Councillor and Chair of the Strategy and Policy Committee, Rachel Smith: “Nothing But Net is a community-driven approach to strategy development. Our digital future is a topic people are really passionate about and we are the first New Zealand government organisation to use this new, interactive video application.”

Councillor Smith says the current COVID-19 lockdown has highlighted the existing digital divide in Northland. “We know we have digital challenges, but there are also opportunities out there. Our communities – the people who live here – are the best to identify these.”

There are nine questions in the online survey, each presented in a video. An online form is also available for those with slow internet connections that cannot upload videos.

Councillor Smith says the quality of responses received so far have been incredible.  “The questions we are asking aren’t easy, but they are necessary to get a clear understanding of where our communities would like us to focus our efforts.”

The campaign runs for two weeks and closes on Friday 15 May. Respondents who answer all nine questions will go into a draw to win an iPhone XR, a koha sponsored by Northland Inc.

Joseph Stuart, General Manager, Business Innovation and Growth for Northland Inc says digital connectivity and the ability to make good use of it is a complex issue that needs many and varied voices to find creative solutions. “The Far North District Council is an early adopter in this space, starting this important conversation at this critical time. Initiatives like these will help us reach our goal of 100 per cent connectivity, 100 per cent opportunity by 2022.”

The Far North District Council is a member of the Northland Digital Enablement Group, which has been advocating for improved digital infrastructure across Northland for the past five years.

Councillor Smith says that once a strategy is in place, the Council will be able to address the digital divide and ensure communities are empowered by digital technology, the economy is supported, and no one is left behind. “Use your voice and help shape our digital future.”

Go to the Nothing But Net page to share views and solutions for the digital divide.