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Gigatown campaign gets serious

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Gigatown Timaru

GETTING CONNECTED: From left, Angus Westgarth, Sam Wilson, Tessa Foley, Bronwyn Hargraves (Aoraki Polytechnic Marketing and International Manager), Iain Bamber (Aoraki Polytechnic Head of School for Hospitality, Hair and Beauty) and Shaun Fisher take part in a brainstorming session in the district council chambers for the #Gigatown Timaru campaign.

The campaign for Timaru to get the fastest internet in the Southern Hemisphere has begun in earnest.

Aoraki Business Development and Tourism chief executive Wendy Smith hosted a formal presentation for the Timaru "Gigatown" campaign at the district council chambers yesterday. "Gigatown", a promotion led by fibre-optic provider Chorus, pits towns against one another for the chance of getting broadband speeds up to one gigabit per second. This is about 10 times faster than offered in the ultra-fast broadband roll-out.

Mrs Smith said it was a prime opportunity for Timaru.

"The possibilities are endless. It will allow better jobs through application of technology, attract new people to the town, better learning opportunities for our children," she said. "But the community has to get behind this. It can't just be one organisation driving it."

To win points for their chosen town, social media users have to use pre-defined #Gigatown hashtags. Each piece of hash-tagged content will earn gigapoints, as will each subsequent share, like, retweet or comment.

A website dedicated to Timaru's campaign went live this week. A Facebook page for Gigatown Timaru, as well as a promotional Twitter account ( @GigatownTimaru) have also been set up.

Timaru mayor Damon Odey said he had a "few ideas" in the pipeline, while he also planned to improve his social media skills.

"I might need Twitter lessons. Until recently, I thought a hashtag was something illegal you smoked," he said.

As of last night, the current leader is Wanaka, just ahead of Porirua and Oamaru. Timaru was in 10th place.

Chorus is also hosting a mini-competition to find the town with the most new sign-ups from today until Saturday evening. The overall winner will be decided on September 14 next year.

Matthew Littlewood - Timaru Herald