Press Release: Public Lecture Series in New Zealand

International surveillance expert to talk smart cities and big data

A world-leading expert in data protection and privacy governance from the United Kingdom will deliver the first of a series of public lectures at Victoria University of Wellington on Tuesday 16 August.

Professor William Webster of Scotland’s University of Stirling is an internationally recognised scholar for his work in the governance and regulation of privacy and data protection. As the 2016 NZ-UK Link Foundation’s Visiting Professor, he will be based at Victoria University’s School of Government during his three-month tenure.

Professor Webster’s first public lecture will set out what it means to live in a surveillance society and examine how those often subtle and hidden surveillance technologies are governed. “In modern society, surveillance processes, which are embedded in new technology, determine our life chances and impact everything we do. Being aware of it, and its consequences, are critical to understanding how surveillance can and should be governed. “For example, I’ll be looking at how public agencies have become the guardians of our digital personas and have a significant responsibility to ensure that the surveillance society works in our best interests.”

In his second public lecture, Professor Webster will discuss the new emerging phenomenon of ‘smart cities’—cities that have integrated public and private data sets to produce innovative and more efficient services and delivery platforms—such as Glasgow, Amsterdam and Barcelona. “The notions of ‘smart cities’ and big data hinge on the idea that data can be transformed in new and previously unforeseen ways to extract value for the public. “Smart cities are complex environments to work in that make the ownership of the data less clear cut than we’ve previously seen. They impact on the design, delivery and regulation of public services, and there’s a vital need for responsible processing of personal data.”

Professor Brad Jackson, the head of Victoria’s School of Government, is delighted to be hosting a scholar of Professor Webster’s calibre. “William shares the School of Government’s passion for direct engagement with policymakers and citizens in advancing better government. His expertise builds on the important work by our Chair in Digital Government, Professor Miriam Lips, to spearhead informed debate on the uses and potential abuses due to the intensification of ICT in public and private lives.”

Public Lecture 1:

What: Surveillance Matters: Your life in a surveillance society

When: 5.30pm, 16 August

Where: Lecture Theatre 2, Rutherford House, 23 Lambton Quay, Wellington

Cost: free


Public Lecture 2:

What: eGovernment Evolutions: Managing information in an era of ‘smart cities’ and ‘big data’ public lecture

When: 12.30pm, 2 September

Where: Lecture Theatre 3, Old Government Buildings, 15 Lambton Quay, Wellington

Cost: free