Q&A - emergent technology

General topics

What is the purpose of our commitment to Emergent Technology?

Police staff increasingly use new technology in their day-to-day work. This innovation is critical to delivering an effective police service that New Zealanders expect and deserve. Equally it is our duty to ensure that privacy, ethical, and human rights implications have been considered first. The way we police impacts every person in our community.


What is the policy?

The Policy on the Trial or Adoption of new policing technology provides guidance for Police staff who are planning to use or test new technology, and outlines the steps required before new technology can be trialled or introduced.  It also applies in situations where new functionality is being added to an existing technology.

It acknowledges that emergent technologies can play an important role in modern policing. It also takes into account our duty to ensure privacy, security and ethical implications are carefully considered before such technologies are trialled or introduced.


Expert Panel

An Expert Panel has been set up to add an external independent layer of advice to Police considerations of emergent technologies.  The Expert Panel's primary role is to provide advice and oversight from an ethical and policy perspective of emergent technologies. While advice will be received and considered in confidence, Police is committed to making the Expert Panel’s advice public wherever possible - acknowledging this may not be possible in every case, for example where disclosure would breach commercial obligations. View published advice from the Expert Panel.

Why did you establish the panel?

The panel was formed following the introduction of our trial and adoption of new technology policy. The Policy ensures that Police understands and assesses any potential technology with the Panel providing independent advice from subject matter experts where further opinion may benefit a proposal. The way we police impacts on every person in our community, so we must do our best to deliver a Police service New Zealanders expect and deserve.


How was the Expert Panel selected?

Police looked at the composition of broadly equivalent advisory bodies that already exist locally and internationally, then sought experts from New Zealand and internationally that could bring the mix of skills, knowledge, and experience that would be beneficial to the expert panel.

An independent 'Health Check' of the Expert Panel was completed in May 2023 and confirmed that the Expert Panel is highly capable and provides robust advice on proposals put to it.


Who is on the Expert Panel?

The panel is chaired by Professor Michael Macauley of Victoria University of Wellington, who is the Professor of Public Administration at the School of Government. Michael's research interests are ethics, integrity and anti-corruption within a public management and policy context.

The members are:

  • Professor Michael Macauley (Chair)
  • Dr Marion Oswald
  • Associate Professor Khylee Quince (Ngapuhi, Te Roroa, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungungu)
  • Professor Jennifer Brown
  • Dr Lindsey Te Ata o Tū MacDonald (Ngāi Tahu)

View the panel member biographies


How often will the panel meet?

The panel meets on an ‘as needed’ basis to consider proposals. This typically has been approximately four times a year.


Why is there no industry representation on the panel?

That could be seen as a conflict of interest when considering emergent technologies. There is the ability to bring on ad hoc specialist panel members where the panel feels their combined experience doesn’t cover a particular area well enough.  



Facial Recognition Technology

Facial Recognition Technology is a topic that draws strong interest; therefore, Police has sought information and advice from independent experts.  This helps ensure that the safety and security of communities is at the forefront of our thinking and decision-making.

What research has been done around Facial Recognition Technology?

Leading experts and researchers on Facial Recognition Technology, Dr Nessa Lynch and Dr Andrew Chen have provided us with a report exploring the current and possible future uses of Facial Recognition Technology and what it means for policing in New Zealand communities.

The scope of this work included:

  • defining Facial Recognition Technology
  • categorising the spectrum of use and its potential effect on individual and collective rights and interests
  • exploring what Police currently do in this space, and what planned and unused capability exists within the organisation
  • providing insights and evidence into international practice and operational advantages for public safety and crime control, as well as Treaty of Waitangi, ethics, privacy, and human rights implications
  • providing advice and recommendations on the safe and appropriate use of Facial Recognition Technology in New Zealand policing.



If you have any further questions about Police use of emergent technology and our approach to technology assurance, including with regards to algorithms or AI, please file an OIA request.