Dunedin's Digital Office faces a ''very dark day'' unless the
Dunedin City Council reverses a decision to axe funding from
its upcoming budget, councillors have been told.
The warning came from Digital Office general manager Stuart
Dillon-Roberts at yesterday's economic development committee
His comments followed an earlier decision by the council to
remove a $60,000 grant from its draft budget for 2014-15,
which was still subject to public consultation.
Mr Dillon-Roberts told yesterday's meeting the discovery the
funding had been removed from the draft budget had come as a
blow for the office, which could not survive without council
''From Dunedin's point of view, it would be a very dark day
if we don't get the funding,'' he said.
Instead, the office would be seeking a funding increase - to
$100,000 a year for three years - when the council heard
public submissions on its draft budget next month, he said.
The money would help pay for a new permanent, full-time staff
member to expand the office and its activities over the next
three years, which could be a ''game-changer'', he said.
Mr Dillon-Roberts is based in Christchurch for personal
reasons, and contracted to work one day a week for the
office, which also relied on significant amounts of volunteer
help, he said.
The council's contribution would also allow the office to
continue seeking project-specific funding from other
agencies, which last year totalled $355,000, he said.
The funding had allowed the office to push a variety of
initiatives designed to help people get to grips with
technology and promote economic growth, he said.
The initiatives included the spread of Wi-Fi hot spots to
better cater for tourists wanting to share their experiences
immediately, and pushing Chorus to prioritise the
installation of fibre broadband in Dunedin in a way that best
suited the city's needs, he said.
It also included the development of a new ''digital journey''
tool, which offered step-by-step guidance to businesses
wanting to make the most of cloud computing and other areas
of innovation, he said.
The office also ran tablets in schools, digital ambassador
and digital training programmes, among other initiatives, as
well as co-ordinating the city's Gigatown Dunedin campaign,
More projects were on the horizon, including a ''Geek Camp''
for teenagers, aimed at encouraging more interest in digital
careers, he said.
''I think the next year coming up will be a big growth year
for the Digital Office.''
Councillors voted to note the report, although deputy mayor
Chris Staynes - also the chairman of the Digital Community
Trust, which governs the office - sat back from the item.