'Gigatown' competition pits NZ cities against each

Wed, 2013-09-11 06:00 -- Jesse Berst

fast fiber networkWe explained how Christchurch New Zealand was taking advantage of a recent earthquake as an excuse to retrofit the city with sensors. But of course you don't want to wait for a natural disaster to motivate the troops. Here's a different option, also from New Zealand -- namely, hold a competition. It's a time-tested approach to getting communities to create action plans. (Google held a similar competition in the United States that attracted hundreds of entrants.)

And once a city builds a plan, it will often move forward even if it doesn't win the initial competition. -- Jesse Berst

There's a somewhat complicated backstory about why Chorus – the telecommunications infrastructure company – is hosting the Gigatown competition in New Zealand. You can read the details in a GeekZone report here. But the bottom line is the company needs to encourage more New Zealand businesses and consumers to get on the company's fast fiber network.

The Gigatown competition is designed to create buzz for fast fiber by pitting communities within the Chorus coverage area against each other. The winning town will have to show via innovative ideas how it is the one that can best exploit faster Internet speeds to improve everyday living. Residents of the winning Gigatown will be offered 1 Gbps fiber connections at the same price they'd pay for the cheapest 30 Mbps plan.

Chorus even brought in a representative from Chattanooga, Tennessee to talk up what fast broadband can do to "regenerate" a community.


Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.