9 May 2016
Co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) John Jung spent an action-packed three days in Whanganui last week, visiting businesses, educational institutes and arts organisations.
ICF has recognised Whanganui as a Smart21 Intelligent Community for the last three years and as a Top7 Intelligent Community in 2016. The ICF is a New-York based think tank which connects communities across the world to maximise the benefits of a broadband economy.
Whanganui’s application to the ICF focused on the push by the Council to build the ultrafast broadband network ahead of larger urban centres and developing a knowledge economy as part of its Leading Edge Strategy.
The application also included information about how businesses such as Pacific Helmets, Q-West Boat Builders, Tawhero Technology, Alarm Watch and more are using ultrafast broadband and have created a culture of innovation to compete with similar organisations internationally.
Mayor Annette Main, who greeted Mr Jung at a powhiri at the airport on April 24, said the visit was to show him that we “practiced what we preached” in working to achieve our district’s vision as a digital leader.
“We squeezed in a whole lot of places for John to visit during his time here to give him an idea about where our strengths are. His visit wasn’t only to see the great things we are doing, but for us to talk to him about some of the challenges we have.
“These include retaining people in Whanganui after they leave school or tertiary education, making sure older people are able to use the internet as more government services go online and addressing town centre issues like empty shops.
Mayor Main said she also had the opportunity to escort Mr Jung to the Anzac Day service at the War Memorial Centre.
“Despite the long-haul flight John made to get to New Zealand, he told us he really enjoyed the ceremony as it is so unique to New Zealand.”
Mr Jung joined economist Shamubeel Eaqub at a public event on April 26, where they discussed how technology and how creating new industries and jobs will help provincial areas thrive.
Mr Jung also spoke about the importance of having effective town planning to bring people together and to keep the community thriving and commended the Council for the Town Centre Regeneration Project.
ICF will choose the 18th Intelligent Community of the Year from the pool of the Top7 at the ICF Summit in Columbus, Ohio, in June.