Can Digital Transformation soften the pandemic effects…

Josh hosted the first pandemic Tech Cluster Meeting on 5. August 2020 at Whangarei Boys and Nathan, a very smart young Whangarei Boy, MCed us competently through the evening.

First up we had JL talking about his amazing experience advising not for profit, non governmental organisations (NGO) all around the world from Kauri. His company Nethope is supported by some of the biggest companies in the world to help with responsible digital transformation for NGO’s like Doctors without Borders, Red Cross. JL talked about projects like digital medical records for immigrants travelling from South Sudan through Africa, crossing the Mediterranean Sea, moving through many European countries before arriving in Sweden, their destination. His job is to understand the problem which needs solving and then co-design smart, innovative solutions. These principles could also be applied to some of the opportunities we are seeing in Northland.

The second part of the evening was an open discussion on opportunities for Northland to leverage the pandemic crisis in a positively impacting way.

To kick this discussion off, the vision of the late Sir Paul Callaghan, that “Aotearoa is the place where talent wants to live” was shared. We agreed that innovation is critical to work our way out of the post-lockdown crisis.

March 2011 – Sir Paul’s memorable speech at StrategyNZ

Nathan guided the discussion on what the current challenges and possible solutions are. He invited several interesting speakers to share their views on what is most critical. Emily Henderson, Labour’s candidate for Whangarei, kicked off and explained how grassroots coffee meetings helped her to bring upon big changes in family court proceedings nationwide. Point being that little initiatives can grow and achieve big positive impact. Catherine Murupaenga-Ikenn, business tutor at NorthTec and activist with Extinction Rebellion, explained that now maybe the time to bring upon radical change in the way we operate as a nation. Including focusing on basic principles and key values, as well as moving away from a purely monetary driven economy. Nathan reminded us that often big corporate influence the way we act and decide. Massive marketing influence seem to be omnipresent. Kevin Waugh, who runs the Questionable Research Lab, TechnoHackers and other youth initiatives, suggested that we can use the marketing tools of big corporate to defend ourselves. His idea is to click on all the non-wanted advertising, say the Daimler Mercedes company. By doing this, the company has to pay the Google, Facebooks and other advertising companies each time you click on their ads, thereby negatively impacting on their messaging. Simple guerrilla strategies like this may be quite useful. Peter Bruce, also a business tutor at Northtec, explained to us that regenerative farming is gaining a lot of momentum around the country and that the hydrology thinking of Walter Jehne. The group suggested few projects for implementation: run regular markets in the inner city of Whangarei like they do in many Pacific Islands, Cambridge, UK and other European towns, build decentralized water tanks by community groups and advertise the water & energy consumption per person in the household by signage in front of your house, sell local produce directly from the producer to the consumer including fresh milk via a smart app combined with existing cooling & hygiene technology. Kevin & Hemi Ruka from the N-Gen Room suggested participation in the upcoming gov hack event. This is an event which encourages local talent to use publicly available government data and add value to the local community. It was also suggested to soon run a Northland innovation startup weekend and invite as diverse audience as possible. If you like to be part of this intiative please contact Martin, Kevin, JL and we get something started in September. Vince Cocurullo, Councillor at the Whangarei District Council, highlighted that actions of determined individuals can make a big impact. He said that Joe Camuso who for over 14 years is promoting to decarbonize our vehicle fleets. At his organisation, the Northland Regional Council, Joe has implemented solar cell arrays which power over 500km of sun powered electric vehicle travel every day. On the back of Joe’s initiative with Russell Watson from Northpower, Whangarei became the most EV friendly city in the country with the highest percentage of EV per capita. There is more to be done. But all starts with the first step. Rumi, a 13th century philosopher said “As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.” Let us start to walk together …

As a first action item, the Developers Institute will be hosting an ideas & solution hack-a-thon from 25.-27. September. Many thanks for stepping up so fast. We will publish more information on this in due course. Any suggestions are very welcome.

Again many thanks to all participants of the discussion yesterday, in particularly to Nathan, who very competently managed the grown ups to come up with realistic suggestions to tackle the identified local challenges.

Enjoy your day …

Martin & Team

Here some links you may find useful

Catherine
https://www.facebook.com/groups/330890147729849/

Peter & Walter Jehne
https://northlandclimatechange.org/2020/03/07/direct-cooling-of-the-planet/

https://northlandclimatechange.org/author/peteriri/

Vince
http://www.wdc.govt.nz/YourCouncil/ElectedCouncil/Councillors/Pages/Vince-Cocurullo.aspx

Emily
https://www.facebook.com/EmilyHendersonLabourWhangarei/

Kevin’s Questionable Research Lab

https://technohackers.org/

Gov Hack

https://hackerspace.govhack.org/events/northland_new_zealand

Martin’s Tai Tokerau – 2025 vision

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Bv9o2BWrLjaa0GpRiDCp5tL68RifQqQcj6R0O80i8wI/edit?usp=sharing

Whangarei – EV capital of NZ

https://whangareinz.com/holiday/getting-there-and-around/whangarei-is-an-electric-vehicle-friendly-town

Climate Change Emergency – what now …

https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/114504701/whangrei-district-council-declares-climate-emergency

First Tech Cluster in 2020

Our first 2020 Northland Tech Cluster meeting on 19. Feb was kindly hosted by Josh Clarke at Whangarei Boys. Many thanks for your awesome support (and air conditioning on the night). We had about 30 participants and four fantastic speakers.

 

 

1) Dr. Nur Nabilah Shahidan – “Smart Polymers”, Researcher @ University Malaysia Kelantan

Nabilah recently arrived in Whangarei. She will be talking about her work on polymers: Cationic P(DMA-co-HEMA) for bioassay application. She received her PhD from University of Manchester in 2014. Her research interests are biopolymers, smart polymers and functional polymers. Nabilah shared her fundamental research on cationic (negatively charged) polymers. They can be used as biosensors for medical, agricultural or other purposes.

Here are Nabilah’s slides.

2) Mark Churcher – “The future is remote”, Lead engineer @ Cognizance and Montage Interactive

Mark-C-tech-cluster-remote-working

Mark is originally from Christchurch. He worked for Wynyard group and Tait Communications and now works for fully remote company Montage Interactive, which enabled a move to Whangarei. He shared his views on how to improve remote work opportunities in regional cities such as Whangarei. One idea is to include ‘remote’ as a location for tech businesses to attract talent. Here are Mark’s slides.

3) Bram Pitoyo – “101 on User Experience/ UX design” @ Mozilla

Bram is a user experience designer and specialist of most other subjects at Mozilla. He gave a very compelling introduction to understanding and improving people-experience and service- usability with data and research. Bram works for the Mozilla foundation. Mozilla has about 1,500 staff, over 70% work remotely from all over the world. They develop work beating open software from the comfort of their home office.

Here is a link to Bram’s introduction to UX.

4) Pauline Rose – “Getting Northland connected”, Chief Operating Officer @ Uber Communications

Pauline is not only the COO of Uber, but also the owner of a boutique banana plantation and lotus farm. Formerly she was project manager for the New Whangarei Central Library building and many other exciting roles. Pauline shared the interesting story on how Uber started by fixing her rural valley’s internet problem in 2005. By now Uber is the biggest independent ISP in NZ and the main provider of rural broadband in Northland, as well as the only local distributor of Northpowers Fibre. Pauline cleverly connected the topics ‘female in tech’ and ‘remote working’ to her business.

5) Announcements

If you are an employer or local tech geek with a strong opinion on how to bring more tech to Whangarei, please join Kiri from Port3 on Monday 24. May 11:30 at Joblab in the Strand Arcade to discuss what to do and how to fund this.

On Thursday 27. Feb from 6pm at Whangarei Girls you can hear Professor Geoff Whittle from Victoria University to talk about Maths & the Digital Revolution.

The Tech Cluster likes to canvas ideas what to organise for Tech Week in May. Geeks at the Library, Digital Tech Job Fair and a discussion around the digital curriculum are on the cards. Any other ideas and assistance is much appreciated.

Please contact us on topics for the next talk/ suggested speakers for April or any other improvement suggestions.

We like to make sure that you are enjoying the networking events and are getting value from them. It is really your event series, any feedback is very much appreciated.

 

Many thanks for spreading the word on cool technology solutions being developed in the wonderful Tai Tokerau.

Enjoy your day,

Martin & the Tech Cluster Crew

Sixth Tech Cluster Meeting and last in 2019

Our sixth and last Tech Cluster Meeting for 2019 happened on 13. November @ Whangarei Boys High – Library. The speaker line up was fantastic. This time we branched out into Biotech & Fish Farming, Toy Robotics and Science/ Tech Education.

Our Speakers were:

Dr Andrew Forsythe – Chief Scientist: Aquaculture & Biotechnology @ NIWA in Bream Bay

IMG_20191113_170644

Did you know that to feed to world our food production has to grow dramatically? According to the Lancet EAT study eating fish and nuts is the healthiest and environmentally most sustainable method to feed the world.  The fast growing area of food production is ocean based food.  Andrew compared the economics of farming  vs aqua culture. On a 10 ha piece of land you can generate about 80,000 per year from running sheep, 800,000 if you grow Kiwifruit, 850,000 if you farm oysters and up to 225 million if you farm Kingfish. The opportunity lies in selling young fish and the recirculating aqua culture system (RAS) technology to the world. Producing feed stock for fish is another big industry. The Black Soldier Fly larvae is one of the most popular feed stocks at present. Norway, the biggest Salmon farmer in the world, export 120 times the Salmon than NZ (14t  in 2018). This is Norway’s second biggest export item after oil & gas. Aqua culture could be done on land close to where consumption is.  NIWA is commercialising their leading Kingfish RAS in 2020.

Brian Fordham – Industrial Designer/ Tech Developer

Brian discussed how to develop a fairly complex six robot system for gaming. He covered his experience of building the Robonica business in South Africa. Brian had two helpers from Technohackers who demonstrated the variety & flexibility of the robot game Robonii. He explained the pressure sensors, infrared, RFID sensor technology, CGI game development work, as well as the business challenges they faced in 2009 after the Global Financial Crisis. It was a stimulating and entertaining, interactive talk.

Dr Kevin Waugh – Questionable Research Labs 

Kevin reported on the recent Tech activity (GovHack, autonomous model cars, KiwiJam, servers, and other chaos) and the story of how to help grow fabulous youth talent. This was an inspirational presentation on how young people can compete with university students, professional game developers and hone their amazing skills – all hailing from Whangarei.  Kevin’s groups meet at the Whangarei Club near the Old Library every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. 

Our next Tech Cluster session will be February 2020 after a wonderful summer break.

In the meantime we hope to get lots of suggestions for future topics and speakers from you. Many thanks in advance.

See you with 2020 vision next year. Have a fantastic summer,

Martin & the Crew

 

Whangarei needs YOU to keep the Tech Cluster engaging and facilitating relevant networking.

And improve the WordPress website with a proper, searchable directory, ability to list projects/ events…

If you have time/ skills or know someone who has, please contact us.

Many thanks !!!!

5th Tech Cluster – 12. Sep @ WBHS Library

Our most recent tech cluster meeting attracted the biggest and most widely spread audience to date. About fifty eager technologist & enthusiasts joined our excellent speakers. The youngest attendant was 11 and the eldest couple over 150 years between them. We are grateful to Allister from Whangarei Boys High school to host us again at their well suited library.

1 ) The event was kicked off by the brilliant civil engineer Shaun Grieves from WSP-Opus. Shaun shared his use case for using drone technology to develop 3D terrain models for slip monitoring in Northland. He explained how he uses drone footage to monitor slips along rural road corridors. Shaun compared this fairly recent application of drones to traditional and other methods. The coolest alternative he is dealing with is 5.5 day spaced 250 x 50 km satellite data.

IMG_20190912_170722.jpgEarth Observation (EO) maybe another, separate talk on its own for one of the next Tech Clusters…

2 ) The next speakers were Richard & Jack Slatter from WBHS.  They successfully ran a campaign at the Northland Science Fair to win an introductory trip to Otago University early next year. Both presented their comparative model of different forms of public transport for Whangarei.

IMG_20190826_145318.jpgThe presentation was so compelling that the audience suggested them to present to the wider council transport team and Ohmio, the autonomous shuttle company based in Pakaranga, Auckland.

3) The students were followed by Wayne Caroll. Wayne teaches at Excelerate College and runs cool after school tech workshops. He shared his vast experience on 3D printing. Printer types, filaments, printing and 3D scanning methods were shared and many amazing artifacts presented.  Others, including Dave from the Inventors Club, shared some of his cool designs including steam engine, Hamilton Jet and a recent, complex levitating device. It was suggested to organise a small workshop on do’s and don’ts on 3D printing. Please get in touch if you like to join and contribute.

4) Heath Grant did a brilliant presentation on WBHS’ new pupil run Technology Committee.

IMG_20190912_173853.jpgIf understood it right, they are open for ideas on cool tech projects, as long as you provide materials and/ or funds to source them. If you are interested in well specified and executed projects, please contact Allister at WBHS. He will connect you to the relevant pupils.

5) Kiri Tavaga summarised the exciting first five week’s of Port3’s 12 week digital right skilling programme. Students between 15-26 years are learning to build web sites, mobile apps and other amazing tech skills.

IMG_20190912_184301.jpgIn week one they visited 19 tech companies in Auckland including Spark, Vector, Xero. The students are incorporating the life skills taught by their parents into their end project. The big prize at the end of Port 3’s programme is your driver’s license, a laptop and pathway into your new digital job. I think this is a very inspiring programme for the first cohort of ten.

It looks we got first suggestions for improving the event and a couple of new speakers & topics. If you have topic requests, recommendations and/ or cool new speakers, please contact us.

Many thanks for all to come and specifically to our brilliant and inspiring speakers.

See you late October for our next Northland Tech Cluster.

 

 

Fourth Tech Cluster event – 5. June

For this tech cluster on 5. June we were hosted at Whangarei’s StrandLab.  This is a pop up collaboration and art space in 49 Cameron Street. Luckily we organised enough chairs, sofas etc. to seat the twenty five visitors..

The June Topics & Speakers were

  • “Listening to vibes, acoustic testing of electric equipment”  by Andreas Gabler from Northpower
  • “Growth Mindsets”  by Educationalist Nigel Studdart
  • Mixed reality art by Kim Nowall
  • 3D opportunities by Daniel Jaeger from BetaFormSolutions

 

Andreas talked about a cool directional microphone which can pick up faults on power lines, including high Transpower lines. Someone in the audience suggested to explore to put a permanent audio monitor on key power poles and only send alerts if thresholds are surpassed. If you are engineer who can help design a practical extension to the existing solution, please contact Andreas at Northpower.

Nigel gave a motivational presentation on the growth mindset, quoted a few learning experiences across his multiple careers as a scientist, hippie, captain, manager of super yachts, farmer and educationalist.  His key message: start with something, try to make it work or fail fast, re-iterate and try again.

Growth-mindset-01

Also check out Carol Dweck’s TedTalk on the power of not yet. Meaning if you can’t do it now, that doesn’t mean you can’t but just you can’t do it, yet. Keep trying and you will get there. This has huge impact on how we educate our kids. Streaming them into careers at a too young age isn’t likely to work in the current move towards a gig economy. To be successful in a fast changing world, we need to adapt fast. A growth mindset is a huge asset.

Growth-Mindset-brain-activity

We had a great discussion on how to better connect innovators in Northland to each other. Running events with Creative  Northland, NorthChamber, the Digital Tech Group, Northland Inc, the Innovator’s Club, IPENZ, the monthly Flying Kiwi Business Advisory et al is seen has a great approach to cross-pollinate and inspire each other to go for it and try harder.

Thanks again to Maggie & Kim from the StrandLab Team for hosting us.

 

Our next tech cluster meeting will be in August/ September. It was suggested to include a 3D printing workshop and an update on drones for surveying.

If you are knowledgeable in this area or do know someone who is, please contact us.

If you have a cool technology you like to talk about, recommend someone who would be an another awesome speaker or have a tech problem you like to get solved, please contact us.

Again, many thanks for your excellent patronage and support,

Martin, Dave & Team

Keep doing cool stuff. Northland rocks !!!

 

PS: If anyone who reads this post knows how to integrate a Calendar and Directory easily into WordPress, please contact us and help to make this site a great community resource.

 

Third Tech Cluster Session – 29. April 2019

For our third Tech Cluster on 29. April at the Library of Whangarei Boys High we had an excellent turn out. So far we have been able to get over 100 Northlanders and visitors interested to join our tech cluster events since we started earlier in 2019.

This time we probably had the most exciting line-up of Northland talent than ever before. This included the speakers and the patrons.

Visitors from as far as the United States, Wellington and Auckland, were matched by amazing talent from Old Paroa Road, Whau Valley Road and Lower Dent Street.

Sheldon White, a local inventor and alumni from WBHS, kicked us off with an amazing rollercoaster ride through one of his inventions. He developed from an initial idea a kiwi fruit packing robot. The way Sheldon approached the technical challenge of picking up plastic crates and separating them automatically from each other was amazing.  He started with a small suction fan, added light detection sensor, built numerous jigs to test his approach, discarded the not working setups, pivoted and came up with new ideas. This iterative innovation process led to a robot which is now  helping to pack thousands of Kiwi fruit everyday. And this is only one of the cool projects Sheldon is working on.

Over the years I have been to a few Better-by-Design, UX design and other customer empathy workshops. What Sheldon explained to us within 15 minutes was more hands-on and practical as those combined. A big thank you to our local star, Sheldon.

The next speaker, Justine Amundson, was no less inspiring. Over twenty years ago Justine started a humble call centre in Whangarei by solving a local business problem. Today A&A employs over 70 locals and is serving customers from as close as Northpower in Whangarei to international hotels, banks, insurances in places like Singapore, London. Justine has developed an onboarding process to bring in unemployed and first time employees into her call centre. Buddying up the new talent with experienced staff, teaching etiquette, the latest customer processes, systems and tools are only some of the strategic training approaches. Justine’s team uses a wide suite of customer relationship management tools including SAP, Salesforce to next tier CRM’s. Latest ICT technology allows serving multiple digital channels from voice-over-IP telephony, email, social media, as well as a seamless handover with artificial intelligence chatbots. Once the local talent has outgrown the A&A call centre, Justine assists them to staircase into bigger opportunities. Her Whangarei talent is working in big organisations around the country and overseas, and some have started their own businesses. She doesn’t call it like this, but A&A looks almost like a textbook tech talent incubator. What an inspiring Northland story.

Maggie Buxton, a recent Whangarillian like myself (only after twenty years or more you are a proper Whangarillian,  I am told …), inspired all of us to get involved in this months pop-up digital project in the Strand Arcade. Please check out StrandLab for more information and get involved. This is one of the many Tech Week 2019 activities happening all around Aotearoa.

Innovation-01

We then kicked off our short Lightning Talks:

Will Pearse from Christchurch shared his story how a six week contract in Whangarei turned into a seven year time in the sunny North, two businesses started and running remote IT projects for national and international projects from a lifestyle block in Whau Valley. He shared his highs and lows, insights on how to make friends when you are new up North, as well as how his views on Whangarei and the amazing potential it holds changed. His business IpadHire and other business opportunities are growing for him and his wife. Another worthwhile insight shared.

Ant Backhouse, CEO of the charitable trust “I Have a Dream”, encouraged the audience to get involved and assist the local dreamers to reach their potential. “I Have a Dream” is looking for after school homework assistants, one-on-one mentors for local talent. You can find more information on their programmes in Whangarei on the I Have a Dream website. Please get in touch with Ant, Joby and the crew based at Tikipunga High.

Last, but by no means least, Andrea Ross and Anthony explained how People Potential is assisting locals to upskill into higher value roles. Anthony told his compelling story from starting as a security guard to becoming a cyber security IT expert and tutor. He started with People Potential 14 years ago as a student. His aspiration was to get the job of his tutor. At the beginning it seemed only like a bit of boys banter, but he ended up getting his tutor’s job and then rose within the organisation. By now he has designed and built their multi-campus IT network, has established and improved several of their IT courses, has onboarded new tutor talent and is still teaching new cohorts of local IT talent. Anthony, Andrea and their team are passionate about up- and right skilling Whangarillians. People Potential now employs over 100 locals and is helping thousands to find meaningful roles in Northland.

It is pretty impressive what today’s speaker lineup of this tech cluster session have achieved in terms of positive socio-economic impact.

We will be digging further to share more untold local success stories.

Again, many thanks for those who presented and shared their stories, as well as those who participated in the lively discussion afterwards. A big thank goes to Allister Gilbert, Deputy Principal and Josh Clark, Old Boys Coordinator from WHBS, to host the tech cluster again. You guys rock !!! Thank you for having us.

Please let us know if we missed anything or mis-stated some things.

Many thanks for joining us and we hope to see you at our next tech cluster event on 5. June.

Martin, Dave & Crew

Second Tech Cluster Meeting – 18. March @ Whangarei Boys High, Library

We had a wonderfully diverse group of about 30 tech enthusiasts and interested people joining our second Northland Tech Cluster Meeting on 18. May .

 

Here the agenda for the day:

5:00 PM  Welcome and Tour of WHBS Labs including CNC machine – Allister Gilbert

5:20 PM  Possible impact of  Hawaiiki Cable and ultrafast broadband for Northland Tech – Duncan Hamilton (Chorus)

Lightning Talks (5 min max!)/ Panel Discussion

Maori Digital Arts & Technology – Te Piha Tipene (InnoNative Business Hub)

Multimodal Transport Demo in Whangarei end of this year – Martin Knoche (Vision Zero, N3T)

Technology Education and Development in Whangarei – George Norris (Developers Institute)

Technology Eco-System in Tai Tokerau – Matt Keane

Creative Technologies in Northland – Maggie Buxton

Inventors Club – Dave Bennett

6:20 PM – Drinks, Nibbles and networking

7:00 PM – Closing

If you enjoyed the event, please tell two new people, bring your partner and friends next time to have a lively discussion on how technology can be an enabler to mobilize more innovation from Tai Tokerau.

Let’s start …

We CONNECT members of the Northland Tech tech ecosystem.

Click here to go MEMBERS DIRECTORY

 

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We INSPIRE our community by hosting local & international thought leaders.

 

If you have any suggestions on how to improve our offering to you or this web content, please contact us.
Many thanks for your awesome support to achieve our vision to connect inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs and people interested to make Northland the best place to live in NZ.
Tai Tokerau, the most sustainable region in the Southern Hemisphere by 2025