In September 2014, I was invited to share ideas for a better New Zealand as part of Fairfax Media’s “If I was the Prime Minister” series. I originally shared six ideas and the one on “footprint” was selected. There are other ideas that I thought could be more audacious and I decided to post them here to make them happen.
Think of this blog post as an idea bank. If you like something that you see, let’s chat and make them happen. These are all achievable and most of them don’t require innovation but integration of existing solutions that are, in cases, commercially available and off-the-shelf.
Promote the creation of a time bank for New Zealanders to leverage their trust, openness and relationships. We already live in a country that is incredibly safe, peaceful and with a lot of skilled makers and builders.Why not develop a system that can incentivize skill sharing to other individuals, businesses and public spaces? People can do good deeds between themselves and the currency mechanism is that you’d owe the community and not the individual.
Re-imagine vacant lots and neglected spaces. I’d create a registry of open/ vacant spaces for private and public use that can be booked on-demand. Anything from pop-up markets, community food forests, pop-up trade schools, after-school programs.
Revamp the energy efficiency guidelines for consumer products.
Every 18 months, manufacturers of any consumer products or appliances would have to improve energy efficiency by one-star and phase out any lowest performing products from sale at the 36 month mark. In 10 years, this would provide any New Zealander with appliances that are 30%-50% more efficient, even at the lowest energy rating. As appliances break and need to be replaced, you see the long-tail effect.
Make Education the new Water. In a world-first, I would make it mandatory for all telecommunication operators and ISPs to provide unlimited bandwidth (no data caps) and no charge for any New Zealander to access educational platforms like Khan Academy and TED.com videos. Education is our most important resource, we can grow the GDP, give any New Zealanders the resource to turn ideas into inventions in what is already a very entrepreneurial country.
Fund personalized medicine research and infrastructure.
By 2020, it will be cheaper to flush your toilet than to sequence your genome.
I would incentivize the creation of research facilities for researching personalized treatments for cancers and other ailments.Creating an autonomous and independent registry of all New Zealander’s genetic footprint will enable the discovery of common traits and potential ailments and help plan a strategy of R&D for the Ministry of Health. Much in the way that a census enables NZTE and other bodies to plan and make decisions.
In the video below, my friend Dr. Daniel Kraft outlines the vision and technologies that are making this a reality:
Invest more in rooftops and less in roads.
While transport infrastructure upkeep will continue to be of high cost, there is no need for more roads.Car-sharing services and autonomous vehicles (which will be prevalent in 15 years) will provide better opportunities to connect people and provide services. For the cost of every kilometer of new road, we can fully subsidize solar roofs in the government buildings, city council offices, schools, hospitals and in people’s homes. Shaving off the monthly cost of energy is paramount to keep up with income inequality and low wages. Building multiple solar roofs also creates resilience and redundancy in the electricity grid.
We don’t need massive energy infrastructure projects but small and distributed energy-generating sources that can be plugged to smart micro-grids that in turn, use the national electric grid as a back up.