Techweek ’18

As a team we have been having more discussions on the role of emerging technologies in our mahi.  In most (if not all) sectors, technology is starting to disrupt what we do. Some jobs will no longer be around as they are displaced by new technology. However, new jobs will also be created and these new technologies can provide us with opportunities to communicate health promotion messages in a range of ways.  

During Techweek’18 the team at Toi Tangata attended a few of the 500+ tech conferences and events between 20th-26th May 2018. The key concept of Techweek’18 explored  innovation that’s good for the world. In no area is this topic more important  than in food and agriculture.

Creative Realities

Darrio, our Kaiārahi-Training and Development Specialist, attended the Creative Realities event in Wellington. This event had a focus on creative New Zealanders who are using artificial intelligence, blockchain, and augmented and virtual reality to change the way we see the world. The event was an insight into the technology systems they have created. Our intention was to look at ways to utilise the changing times to better position ourselves as Kaiārahi in hauora.

10 Million Mouths 

As the human population expands, we need to address how we’ll feed some predicted 10 billion mouths by 2050. On Wednesday the 23rd of May, food and agritech experts convened in Tauranga for a one-day conference covering the important issues facing the food supply industry. Our Toi Tangata Research and Evaluation Lead, Suaree Borell, attended as part of her workforce development training and here are few of her thoughts and ideas about this event.

What I heard/learnt

My main learning was that the human population is expanding at rates we have not seen before. I might be late to this ‘insight’ but I have caught up now and am more conscious; we need to address how we’ll feed the predicted 10 billion mouths by 2050. I learned that technology can help us with that. Through a panel of investment and agri-tech leaders we listened and explored the role of technology in meeting the world’s food needs. The key idea offered here is that technology can (and has already) drastically changed our capacity to produce food, however, the need for consumers to be satisfied and informed about the ‘how’ and ‘where’ of their food remains a critical factor in the market forces that impact on the way whanau  purchase their kai. From this platform Aotearoa offers a unique advantage and opportunity to shape food stories and leverage startup businesses that can change traditional market practices. From a te ao Māori perspective we may look at the role Agri-tech can play in protecting the taio and Papatūānuku.

I also enjoyed learning new language and concepts from a different sector, it was exciting being the outlier and listening to different perspectives. I think this was enjoyed more because after over 10 years in the public sector terms can become redundant, overused and useless. Here are some the terms that I noted down, when acquiring or exercising new language I write it down and make a commitment to use it at least three times in the next week, so here they are.

Informed by stewardship: I would use this when speaking about a way of working, and advocating for good practice. I think it is a great way to frame a concept and invite others to work alongside you.

Precision horticulture:  This is a term I might use regarding my whanau skills in  an emergent market like hemp production, medical marijuana and relaxation remedies. It appealed to me as an ‘up market’ way of describing skillful horticulture.

Logical product extension but not innovation: This statement appealed to me also because in the public sector universe we often ‘over dress the horse’ and talk about innovation like a ‘unicorn waltzing in and resting on rich beautiful pastures basking in the hue of an evening sun set’.  When in fact it may just be this…’Logical product extension but not innovation’

Common foot forward: Like the first statement I would use this when trying to generate good practice and collective goodwill. I like the way it constructed a connected practice that didnt exclude or prejudice who could be involved.

What I think

I thought the diverse panel of those at the forefront of these challenges we are starting to see made a positive impact on me. Although not a self-identified IT user, I found I understood the trends they were talking about (some clear parallels to Public Health mahi) and their interactive features that I had not seen at the conferences I usually attend were awesome.  This Q & A, in real time – via an App, the App sending reminders the session were about to begin, and where to buy beverages were great. This helped me feel included and important to the conference activities. The most important thing with the co-ordination via the app was that I could use it to make decisions about the way I engaged with the conference, it was also nice to carry a book around….I think an event like this showed be the benefits of cross sector learning and development. It was a great investment and I learnt alot, at a practice level it made me focus on how to create value and meet a need at the same time.

What I did

I made a commitment to attend another of these events next year and take a friend.  Yes, that means parting with my own money but this is worth it. If your looking for something to invest next years workforce development this is it….

As a workforce we need to ask the questions; how can whānau benefit from technologies?  Can the technology positively contribute to the growth of te reo Māori and promote te reo?