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This introduction to the Digital Engagement projects presents the Digital Engagement team, what we do to improve government online, and the principles that we adopt in our work — with a particular emphasis on the customer at the centre, iterative development that demonstrates effective results, and working together across government.

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Other Presentations in This Series

This is one in a set of five presentations by the Digital Engagement team in Internal Affairs (DIA) on projects they are leading across government to improve how Government interacts with people online. The other four presentations are also available on the Web Toolkit:

  • Redevelopment of - Jared Gulian (Principal Advisor Digital Engagement) and Nathan Wall (Information Architect) review how the new website will provide all-of-government information based on users needs, with plain English content and features that are easy to understand.
  • Domain Integrity Project - Rowan Smith (Senior Advisor Digital Engagement) talks about the current state of agencies’ web presence and creating an environment in which users can interact safely and securely with government online.
  • Redevelopment of Domain Name Service - Jason Kiss (Senior Advisor Digital Engagement) discusses how the Government DNS system works, and planned updates to the features and security of this critical infrastructure.
  • Government Online Engagement Services (GOES) - Nadia Webster (Senior Advisor Digital Engagement), talks about GOES, which will establish an online engagement service to help agencies actively connect with the public, users and other agencies.


Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome. We’re delighted to have members of Internal Affairs here this afternoon. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to grab something to drink. I was asked if we were providing champagne. I’m sorry, we’re not able to do that at this time of the day, being a responsible host, of course.

So it is my pleasure to introduce you to Digital Engagement. We are located within the Government Information Services, and we shifted here prior to Christmas to Level 3 within this National Library building. So if you do have an opportunity to go on some of the tours, I’ll advertise that it’s certainly worthwhile.

Moving along. Now, our team. I thought I would introduce you. I did have visions of The Brady Bunch, but my team actually said that wouldn’t be appreciated. So what we do every morning is we stand up as a team, and we do a quick round the circle on what we’re doing, are there any red flags and so, I thought this would be an opportunity to introduce you to our circle.

[Image projected on screen: Photos of members of the Digital Engagement team arranged in a circle.]

So starting at the top right, here, we have Alison, and Alison Jack is the secondment from the Ministry of Social Development. And she’s Web Content Editor for newzealand.govt redevelopment, and you’ll hear about that shortly.

We have Jared Gulian, who’s our principal adviser — moving clockwise around that circle. He’s our Project Lead for newzealand.govt redevelopment. He’s got a lot of expertise on social media, with travelling to the Middle East, and he is author for DIA online strategy, to name but a few.

Jason Kiss, who is involved with web standards, accessibility, and domain name policy.

Nadia Webster with open data and online engagement.

Nathan Wall, who many of you will know, he is our information architect, and he’s primarily with nz.govt redevelopment at the moment, but he has provided specialist oversight from a design perspective. And he does ensure consistency of approach, so some of you will have met him through your projects that you’re doing online.

Rowan Smith’s current areas of focus include domain integrity — and he’ll explain exactly what that is — accessibility, open data, common web services, and IPv6.

We have Victoria Wray, who’s currently on secondment to the newzealand.govt project, and she has a lot of experience where she has been the Product Manager for the current site, as well as the public sector directory.

And lastly, me. I’ve been involved with the early days of the e-Government programme. This was prior to arriving at Internal Affairs in its current form, and I have areas of expertise in social media as well as in the aspects of online engagement. And it is my privilege to lead this team, so thank you for that.

Digital Engagement team projects

An outline in the shape of a fish with the title, "Digital Engagement team". The tail of the fish lists aspects of the NZ Government's online presence: user-centred design; open by default; trust and security; collaborative development; and common capability. The body of the fish lists four projects that deliver to the public and agencies. The four projects involve domain integrity, domain name ( moderation, online engagement, and

Because I tend to be quite a visual person, I thought I would actually describe this diagram for you. But before I do that, thought it would be good for you to hear some of the things that our team has achieved. We have a web tool kit that some of you will have seen, and we’ll be making reference to that this afternoon. We’re using it as a site to actually share standards as well as guidance, and we have a blog on there that we are regularly blogging about what we’re doing.

We have guest bloggers, so Colin MacDonald, our CE, has provided a guest blog post, as has Richard, who’s in the audience. And we’re finding that’s a very smart way of being able to get the message out there and interact with the audience. In other words, right across government, as well as our internationals. So we recently had a request, could we please translate some of your content into Croatian? So that has happened. So internationals are watching it very closely.

Common web services, we’ve been involved with the setup of the panel of preferred suppliers, and the common web platform which we’re watching very closely because that’s providing a fantastic way for agencies to be able to use those common capabilities. Jared returned from the Bahrain last week, and he was invited to speak to an international e-government forum on newzealand.govt redevelopment.

We have invitations to address a Future.Gov forum, so that has happened over the last couple of years, and we actually lead interactive discussion tables, because what they’re wanting to know in Australia is how are we doing working in this space in New Zealand. So we’re finding that’s a really good way for exchanging around what the future of government is going to be.

Now what we found is both a blessing and perhaps, how do I describe it? It can be a challenge. Is that our Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister Tremain, is watching very closely on what we’re doing. So we’ve presented to him at least twice, and on those occasions, he’s really engaged with what we’re doing. Because the stuff that we’re doing, we’re making sure that it’s very visible, and that we have it evidence-based. So we’ll show you what that is.

So that leads me to this diagram. Now, I describe this fish, and this fish is really part of a school of fish, because a number of the initiatives that each one of you are involved with — what I’m saying is that there is a connection with the work that we’re doing. So that’s why we thought it really important to connect with you as well as we do with other agencies.

And the principles for what we do-- and you may hear that aligns with what you’re doing as well — we have the user at the centre. So that’s what we’ve designed, and we have to ensure that it’s usable and accessible, particularly on websites. We have responsive design, so for those of you who have got mobiles, you can look at what government is presenting online via any device. And that’s what we have to make sure, is that you can do that.

We’re focused on enhanced trust and confidence, so you’ve seen quite a number of articles recently about privacy and security. We’re being asked to address that.

Collaborative development with agencies is absolutely critical to success, because we’re talking about all of government programmes. And unless we actually get the agencies to work with us, it’s going to be Internal Affairs in their ivory tower developing solutions, and we know what’s best. So we find that the co-creative co-design is really important.

And we must actually demonstrate best practice. So the Web Toolkit, for example, Jason was spending many hours at home, as he does because he’s very passionate about this, and making sure that the web tool kit is accessible. So that is an important part of us actually demonstrating that we practise what we preach. And what we’re doing is sharing our learnings as well.

So our team members this afternoon are going to take you through four initiatives. One is with, the Government Online Engagement Service, Domain Integrity, and Domain Name Service. So I’ll now hand over to the team, and we will address questions at the end. The reason why we’re videoing today is because we’ve had constant queries about “Can you share what you’re doing?”. So thanks to Archives Online. They’re providing the video for us to be able to share that, and then we’ll have questions at the end. So, thank you.

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