Dr Katharina Ruckstuhl: “The technical challenge is enormous, but so is the opportunity.”
Travel restrictions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic have intensified the need to develop and manage research projects online rather than face-to-face.
It's a development that the Otago Business School's Associate Dean – Māori, Dr Katharina Ruckstuhl, is closely involved in understanding from a Māori perspective.
Ruckstuhl is leading one project within the Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge that is looking at the veracity of digital information.
“Because it was difficult to know whether we were going to be able to meet people in person, we decided to run an experiment around developing the whole veracity project online,” she says.
“One question was whether this approach would support embedding a Māori point of view, particularly as developing a project around whether you can trust data has implications for Māori sovereignty.”
Ruckstuhl is also working on a related project through the IEEE (formerly the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the world's largest professional organisation for the advancement of technology.
“I am working with the organisation's Indigenous Data Working Group, which is looking to standardise how indigenous data are recognised within and across computer systems,” Ruckstuhl explains.
“If computer systems recognise indigenous data provenance, then researchers and institutions might start to acknowledge the real-world responsibilities that come with using such data.
“Identifying that a particular set of satellite data has an indigenous provenance, for example, might support a local tribal community with water or species management,” she says.
“The technical challenge is enormous, but so is the opportunity.”