Social media push lifts city to third in Gigatown bid

03:29, Mar 14 2014
Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter
FAST TRACK: Nelson Gigatown campaigner Clare Atkins is amazed how Nelson has gone from 27th to third in four months.

Nelson has moved up to third in the nationwide Gigatown competition, and "things are getting more serious", campaigners say.

The nationwide competition in which Nelson is vying for top place has the grand prize of ultrafast broadband.

Offered by broadband installer Chorus, the competition is reliant on people using social media to promote their town or city.

If Nelson wins, internet speeds will be about 80 times faster than an ADSL connection. Chorus will award one New Zealand town or city the internet connection and $200,000 to help take advantage of the winning prize.

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology information technology tutor Clare Atkins is one of a core group of 20 Nelsonians who have been dedicated to the campaign since the beginning.

Nelson was at 27th place four months ago, so to see the city climb up to third was "pretty amazing", she said.


With Wanaka in first place, Dunedin second, and "Queenstown always biting at our heels" in fourth, she said they would not risk getting complacent now they were in the top three.

The Facebook page was generating more traffic each week, with 480 new "likes" last week. There were almost 2400 this morning.

She said the hard work of the campaigners had shown "word was getting out into the community" about the competition. They held Twitter "tweetathons" where "everybody just goes for it" having conversations which included the hashtag #gigatownnsn.

"We are really, really pleased. It's about showing them [Chorus] which community wants it the most, and we are showing there are a lot of people who really want it here." She said the Nelson group was starting to discuss logistics if the city won the competition. "Things are getting more serious."

Dr Atkins expected bodies like the Nelson City Council and the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce would be crucial in deciding how to roll out the ultrafast internet if they won, and attracting businesses to Nelson to make use of it.

She said they had received plenty of support, from businesses, NMIT and individuals who all saw the benefits in winning. Sealord and Mint Dining Room had also been helpful by promoting the campaign on social media, she said.

Gigatown Nelson campaigners would be at MarchFest next weekend with a stall and an iPod Shuffle to give away. They were also giving away a free haircut from Salon No 4 this weekend. Entrants needed to take a photo that "showed off the Nelson region" and uploaded it to the Gigatown Nelson facebook page with the #gigatownnsn hashtag.

In September the top five towns in the competition will become the Gigatown finalists, and go on to compete for the winning spot.

All scores will be reset to zero and the finalist towns will need to collect the most points before the close of the competition to become the winning Gigatown.

During the finals, Chorus will take one representative from each of the five finalist towns to Chattanooga, Tennessee, which has the highspeed internet on offer, to see how it works.