Stop, agglomerate and listen: New Zealand’s potential regional tech hubs
We have Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Silicon Wadi, Silicon Slopes, Silicon Roundabout, Silicon Glen, Silicon Cape, Silicon Savannah, Silicon Island, Silicon Sentier, Silicon Woods, Silicon Docks, Silicon Welly and many other Silicon-based nicknames that aim to show off the tech-credentials of a particular city or town. Not only is it fully tryhard, it’s also too broad. We all know about the benefits of specialised innovation precincts, where skilled practitioners focused on similar disciplines and technologies come together to play foosball, leverage synergies, embrace disruption, create multiplatform, cross-functional, cloud-based platforms and generally ‘make the world a better place’.
New Zealand needs to specialise; to spit on the graves of our generalist forebears and their useless no. 8 wire. And to do that, we need some cool names for our regional tech hubs.
With plentiful rainfall, hydro dams as far as the eye can see, straight, wide Parisian-style boulevards and a rich boganic heritage full of engine lovers, what better place to focus on the burgeoning electric vehicle industry. When this industry gets cranking, the only reason you’ll need diesel down south is to tip some on the roundabout when you’re doing a few donuts after a fight at Maccas.
The internet of things is here. Your toaster wants to talk to your fridge. Your car wants to talk to your thermostat. Your smoke detector wants to talk to your sex toy. Your security camera wants to talk to your socks. But these connected devices are not made to be secure. So if this summer hotspot focused on learning how to gain control of all these toasters, fridges, cars, thermostats, smoke detectors, sex toys, security cameras and socks with a distributed network of compromised hosts, Botueka would boom. The Botuekan botnet will extort businesses through denial of service attacks, evade Spam filters, rent itself out to criminal organisations and, most profitably, tap into the riches available through some good old-fashioned ad fraud (there’s no more powerful form of FOMO than a marketer who thinks they’re missing a trend and, with global online advertising spend to hit US$200 billion this year, that’s a golden goose worth plucking).
In an age of global cyberterror, where the information highway is basically gridlocked and full of online window washers trying to make you pay, there’s money in hacking. And those coasties need jobs. If the Macedonian teenagers can do it, so can we.
As nefarious forces attempt to steal our identities at every digital turn, government forces attempt to weed out dissent, and global tech behemoths farm our data to harvest targeted ads, we need a regional centre dedicated to the creation of world-leading encryption tools that can protect our privacy. Or, given John Key was probably right when he said New Zealanders were more worried about the Snapper quota than spying or privacy, perhaps it’s best to focus on harnessing the economic power of the darkweb. What better place for paranoid conspiracy theorists and/or the libertarian fringe to gain anonymity than among the hordes of tourists at the Great Lake.
New Zealand is renowned for its progressive civil aviation rules around drones. And Dunedin is already renowned for dangerous flying objects, making the central student area the perfect testing ground for the drone economy – whether it’s photographing leaky roofs, dropping free Speight’s t-shirts, delivering pizzas, or spraying the rowdy mobs with calming agents.
With its well-established film scene, Wellington claims to have the keys to the AR/VR castle. But the beautiful light of the winterless north means Dargaville also has a claim.
Techapuna is sooooooo 2014.