GigCity project: connecting to the world

Digital Community Trust chairman John Gallaher surrounded by GigCity flags last year. Photo by...
Digital Community Trust chairman John Gallaher surrounded by GigCity flags last year. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

The implementation of GigCity has been a complex process, but will benefit Dunedin in numerous ways, writes Digital Community Trust chairman John Gallagher.

As the organisation tasked with delivering the GigCity ‘‘Plan for Success'' we, too, have been frustrated with the pace of the project. As with many projects, the plan reflected and idealised delivery.

The trust has a responsibility to ensure the implementation of GigCity is done right the first time for the benefit of all who live work and play in our city. It is fair to say that it is a complex process, more so than was initially envisaged.

The rollout of fibre was planned to take several years, as it takes time to dig up the city and lay fibre to more than 50,000 homes and businesses. The rollout of fibre has in fact been accelerated by two years and will now be complete by 2017.

The gig is not a magic fix for Dunedin. It is the backbone of the infrastructure for a 21st-century city and will benefit the city in numerous ways, many of which will be created and driven by the entrepreneurs and innovators among us.

It will take several years to see business growth and new businesses emerge as a result of this technology. We, as a city, need to tell the rest of the country about the benefits of being New Zealand's first GigCity.

Telling the aspirational story of GigCity is an important part of the ‘‘Plan for Success''.

Chorus, as our partner in GigCity, has contributed funding and significant resources to the tune of more than $800,000. And while it acknowledges there are some issues with installation, it is working to streamline the install process. Chorus is also hosting education sessions and supplying additional contractors and technicians to assist residents and businesses to get the maximum benefit.

The Dunedin City Council is also a significant stakeholder, having contributed funds and resources to GigCity. It recognises the importance of this in positioning Dunedin and the many opportunities the city offers to its residents now and in the future.

As we look to the next phase of GigCity projects, such as the Living City Hub, Mozilla Hive and the Public Wi-Fi hot spots start to bring the GigCity vision to life. This is not a short-term project.

This is one of the ways that Dunedin will connect to the world, and will in the not too distant future, become an integral part of the city's infrastructure, in the same way as access to electric power was in the 1900s.

We should not underestimate how this could change our city and assist us in the journey to becoming one of the great small cities.

-By John Gallagher 

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