'We start here. Day one. Gig City'

Dunedin Community Trust chairman and GigCity spokesman John Gallaher surrounded by new GigCity...
Dunedin Community Trust chairman and GigCity spokesman John Gallaher surrounded by new GigCity flags. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Mark it down as ''Day one'' - Dunedin's push to become one of the world's leading ''smart cities'' is under way.

A masterplan to relaunch Dunedin as a smart city has been hatched, and will begin with today's official launch of New Zealand's first gig-speed free public Wi-Fi in the Octagon.

With speeds more than 50 times faster than the Wi-Fi it replaced, the Octagon's service was now one of the fastest free and public Wi-Fi hubs in the world.

Other free gig-speed Wi-Fi sites would be rolled out across the city in the coming months, Dunedin Community Trust chairman John Gallaher said yesterday.

And while significant work had occurred ''behind the scenes'' since the city won Chorus's ''gigatown'' competition last year, it was time for Dunedin to ''own'' the opportunities that win created.

''We start here. Day one. GigCity.''

''GigCity Dunedin'' would replace ''gigatown'' from today as Dunedin's ''smart city moniker'', Mr Gallaher said.

Branding would initially be seen at the airport and in the Octagon, although more would soon follow around the city.

The new name heralded Dunedin's move away from the Chorus-run gigatown competition towards owning its ''digital revolution'', he said.

And understanding how significant that revolution was for Dunedin would be a core initial role of the project's leader, the Dunedin Community Trust, he said.

It was hoped the Octagon's free gig-speed Wi-Fi would help with that understanding.

''There are very few cities in the world that can give you access to these sorts of speeds. This connects us to the world in a way that we've never had before.''

That was ''a huge opportunity'' for the city's entrepreneurs, current businesses and future business people, who would ''figure out how they can best use it'', he said.

The $500,000 community development fund, opening to applications on October 10, was additional to the $200,000 development fund - some of which had already been allocated - for entrepreneurs using gig technology to create new businesses or products.

''There are a lot of very clever people coming up with ideas, and one of the huge opportunities this gives us is the chance to stimulate those ideas.

''And from that, new businesses will emerge.''

And while it was hoped the gig-technology would lead to significant business and job growth across the city, a key benefit was the low impact it would have on Dunedin's existing townscape, Mr Gallaher said.

''We don't have to flatten a big area of the city to build new factories. This isn't the industrial revolution. This is the internet revolution.

''And we're in a position where we can quite justifiably take our place in the world. Ultra-fast broadband is a powerful driver of what this city could and should become - a smart 21st-century city.

''And I honestly believe that we can do that. People that choose to be here, that live this lifestyle, can do whatever they want as we can be connected to anywhere in the world.''

While the gigatown competition created a ''remarkable epiphany'' for Dunedin, winning it was comparatively easy, he said.

''Then the real work began. People thought it would just be flicking a switch, but it wasn't like that.

''We had to figure out what would give us the best bang for our buck, and that's what we've done. And now we're ready.''



The masterplan

• Today's Octagon Wi-Fi launch, and future Wi-Fi sites around the city.

• A new GigCity website being developed by Dunedin's Animation Research Ltd.

• A ''meshing'' of the city's top tourism sites, all connected to and utilising UFB.

• The development of a ''GigCity Centre'' in Dunedin's central library, to showcase UFB's potential and be a ''shopfront'' for inquiries.

• Dispersing a $500,000 ''community fund'' in $20,000 chunks to people, businesses or groups with plans to utilise gig-technology for community development.


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