Wanganui one of world's smartest

By John Maslin

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Being smart has brought its reward for Wanganui, with the city in line for worldwide recognition as an intelligent community.

The city is one of 21 towns and cities on the planet named as semifinalists in the 2013 Intelligent Community of the Year award and is the first community in the country to reach the semifinals since the awards started in the 1990s.

The selection underlines the city's work to embrace the challenges of broadband and developing strategies to use the new technologies for the benefit of the community.

Wanganui's Mayor, Annette Main, who also chairs the Wanganui Digital Leaders' Forum, said it was "fantastic news" for the city.

Ms Main said Wanganui has gone up against much larger centres, many with universities and significant digital networks already in place.

She said it recognised the progress Wanganui had made in economic and social terms through adopting a pro-active approach to acquiring and using new technologies.

"The flow-on effects from the use of this new technology will see changes we could never have imagined. Just as the telephone changed the ways we work, find information, do business and communicate with each other, access to ultrafast broadband will create opportunities that will change the ways we live our lives," she said.

"Our work in the digital field is wide and varied and ensures that all parts of our district, both urban and rural, will be able to see the benefits that flow from the use of new technology. We're partnering with local organisations, businesses and individuals to ensure that Wanganui will achieve our goal of 100 per cent connectivity."

Ms Main said among these innovations was the Computer Clubhouse, Computers in Homes, wireless broadband projects, community access, and hosting TechEx, the country's first highly successful broadband expo.

News of Wanganui joining 20 other communities was made in Riverside, California, which was named the 2012 Intelligent Community of the Year.

The Intelligent Communities Forum is a global movement celebrating and supporting communities that show how they have embraced broadband to benefit residents.

"Being included as one of the Smart21 puts Wanganui on a footing with other communities across the world in terms of our digital leadership," she said.

The forum said a place among the year's Smart21 was considered a "badge of honour".

Wanganui will be judged against towns and cities from the US (3), Australia (3), Canada (4), Taiwan (3), Portugal, Brazil, Greece, Finland, Estonia, China and Albania. In January the forum will name seven finalists at the annual conference of the Pacific Telecommunications Council in Hawaii, with the announcement of the winner of the 2013 Intelligent Community in June.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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