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Gigatown effort wins award

21 Apr 2015

Gigatown effort wins award

Fuelled by passion, coffee and pizza our community effort to 'unite and fight' for ultra-fast broadband was nationally recognised for bringing the Gisborne community closer together – despite not winning the first prize of gigabit internet.
Gisborne District Council were announced winners of the Community Relationship category for the 2015 McGredy Winder SOLGM Local Government Excellence Awards.
Judges said the project demonstrated the importance of setting challenging goals, managing a project successfully, and being prepared to go to the grassroots.
“Getting people involved and dedicated to the end-game was the key to the Gigatown competition,” says chief executive Judy Campbell.
The project brought Council staff together with Eastland Community Trust, The Gisborne Herald, innovators like Bronwen Holdsworth and work horses Yvette Kinsella, Nicky Solomon, Gavin Murphy and ExpressPR’s Nicola Chrisp to focus on gaining important social media points and email registrations.
The result was a ‘gig-army’ of committed volunteers and over 12,000 supporters locally and nationally for our bid to win UFB.
Mayor Meng Foon says he loved the community spirit shown by everyone involved and was motivated. Mayor Foon was a ‘big tweeter’ among others like Arish Naresh, tallying upwards of 100 to a whopping 1000 tweets each day in the lead up to the end of the competition.
“Which is no small feat,” says Ms Campbell
“We got Chorus to agree to tweets in Te Reo, meaning we could tap into our large Maori demographic.
“#Gigatowngis even managed to trend over the final days of the competition.
Over a yearlong campaign Gisborne came from 11th place to be the only North Island city in the finals and ultimately coming in second place behind Dunedin.
Gisborne won the best digital strategy part of the competition and only narrowly missed out on the social media section after a somewhat unexplained loss of substantial points.
“Even though we didn’t win, the new relationships and links built within our community is still a massive achievement.
“Finishing just 0.2% behind a much larger city like Dunedin in the social media share shows that we activated a much greater percentage of our population and maintained their support.
“When we took on the project in partnership with Eastland Community Trust in March 2014 we didn’t know then how big it could be,
Local businesses and individuals contributed cash and prizes for competitions to engage the community, as well as thousands worth of local advertising given for free.
Large organisations like Eastland Group, Pultron, Leaderbrand and Cedenco got involved, signing up their vast numbers of employees and along with other businesses, allowed ‘time-off for tweeting’.
A few hundred pizzas and a lot of coffee were on offer at the ‘Gig Shed HQ’ that saw hundreds of people every week.
“Providing a hub for people and families who even took their children to sign up and learn how to tweet, showed the people’s commitment to putting points on the scoreboard, says Mayor Meng Foon
“The call went out to the community to donate mobile phones which were ‘upcycled’ to families without devices so they could take part and continue to stay connected.
Schools and their students throughout the district were committed to winning. Gisborne Intermediate went on to register their entire student body of 380.
“Young people were one of the most valuable resources in the success of this project, says Ms Campbell,
“Because of this competition, we now have a clear path and enthusiasm to implement digital developments within our community,
“Our plan for gig success was unanimously judged the best and we'll be putting most of it into action even without winning ultra-fast broad band and prize fund.”
Activate Tairawhiti has been set up and will deliver the digital strategy as a key opportunity for economic growth in our region.
“The first major success was the opening of the first regional MindLab in March 2015, a pioneering digital and collaborative education lab dedicated to digital literacy and capability for school children and teachers.
“What Gisborne can take from this experience is that real change can happen when a community works together.”
The judging panel for the local government award is made up of consultants in the public sector from McGredy Winder, IPANZ, Local Councils, SOLGM and the Office of the Auditor-General.
SOLGM is the national member organisation that supports managers in local government and is committed to promoting professional excellence in all areas of the sector.