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Locally and globally connected post-earthquake development – Submission to CERA

Picture: JAZZ coffee by Mark Kazav

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has called for submissions on the Christchurch City Council’s Central City Plan. The following is a submission by John Gallagher based on recent blogs.

This submission draws on the “Campus Central”, the Epic Business Campus and the Circus Arts projects described in the Central City Plan. These projects are covered in the plan’s section 8 on “City Life” and section 10, “Market City”.

1. Campus Central & Business Campus as global hub for CBD and suburbs: a vision

What will be sketched here is a vision of contributions that could be made from the locale approximately encompassing of the Polytech in Moorhouse Avenue through to the proposed Epic Business Campus and Circus Arts site in Tuam Street.

It is relevant to note that between these amenities and proposed amenities there is already the Polytech Jazz School, and there are proposals as referred to in the Draft Plan for a Student Village and a “Circus Arts Site”. I notice also in the news, an intention to set up a 420 seat ArtHouse theatre and café in the old High Street post office building in the area.

What I wish to draw attention to is the way that this locale could be made to function as a very smart and lively two-way hub for local and  global flows of knowledge and data, encompassing regular education, business services, along with cutting-edge innovative development across various fields.


2. More detail available in blogs

This submission distils material from several blogs on the website.

The following provides a quick view relevant to the Central City Plan: Christchurch Post Earthquake Developmental Ladder Award Three: “Campus Central” in the Draft Central City Plan

If a more detailed overview is wanted, three directly relevant blogs, including the above, are summarised in the blog Three post-earthquake technology development ladders proposed for Christchurch projects

Two other relevant blogs that will be referred to in the submission below are: Christchurch Post-Earthquake Developmental Ladder Award Two: The Science Alive Educational Trust


Ladder Award to eight local Hornby schools in Christchurch New Zealand


3. A Campus Central ambiance where creative people generate projects and ideas

The dynamism for development would come from a concentration of a great many diverse people engaged in technological, business, and artistic, learning, living and performance rubbing shoulders in streets with sociable ambiences and amenities where there is plenty of quality entertainment sustained by “tuned-in” Jazz School and Circus Arts amenities, and possibly others.

Such amenities could provide settings conducive to many conversations in which creative relationships, ideas and projects could be generated. Especially, as appears likely, where there will also be ample cafés and similar social amenities that spill out onto street ambiences and open till people want to go home – the sort of thing that happens in Silicon Valley. (cf Cafe Culture and Fueled Entrepreneurs)


4. A hub for global developments

More specifically, I would like to draw attention to the potential for the Moorhouse-High Street-Tuam Street area to become a hub for cutting-edge, two-way, global- through-to-local and back flows.

From the global end, potential for flows (of contemporary developments, needs and agendas for development) is exemplified by the presence and interest of Canterbury University graduate and now Google engineering director, Craig Nevill-Manning. He came to meet a group of earthquake-displaced IT businesses planning to set up the collaborative hub on the former Para Rubber site in the central city. He said he and Google engineers from its crisis-response division came to the city after the February quake to provide technological support and equipment to officials and businesses. (The Press, 3 August, 2011)

5. A hub also that can connect (very) locally

If the Campus Central and Business Campus can cluster itself into a globally-connected hub, can they also develop spokes that reach out into the suburbs of Christchurch?

It is worth noting that there are many interesting technology service and development firms in suburbs like Riccarton and Hornby. There are also keen-to-learn students and teachers in schools all around the city, as well as the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University which also engage in research. These universities are interested in transport that connects well with this central city area, as well as the student accommodation amenities to be located there.


6. Connecting and synthesizing local and global flows – e.g. Science Alive

It will pay handsomely to have a globally-connected central city hub that can also connect well with its environing suburbs. The result will not only be a city able to involve more people, knowledge and skills in creating more, better products, resulting in a better spread of know-how and income around the city. The result will also be local people able to better articulate and have their needs met by drawing on the best of what is available from both local and global sources.

Ways of supporting this to happen would be well worth looking into and developing. People at Village-Connections have some creative ideas as to how this might be done that have been researched, or have grown out of research, carried out up to doctorate and post-doctoral levels.

To illustrate one way in which things can be done, I would like to draw attention to the example of Science Alive, which is keen to locate itself in the Epic Business Campus.

Since earthquakes forced it to move out of its former location at the old Moorhouse Avenue Railway Station, it has developed its outreach programs and goes out into any and all areas of the city where it is asked. It takes demonstrations of science and technology out on request to all sorts of venues or events, including executive or work training sessions and functions, schools, and birthday parties.

My point is here is that an organization, located in a globally-connected central city hub could be in touch with the latest developments literally in the world. This would situate it well to take knowledge of such developments anywhere in the wider city where, I would like to stress, new issues could be raised and suggestions made to be taken back for consideration at the central campus. Localities could in this way help to set agendas and directions for both city and global technological development that was also more attuned to the needs of localities.

7. Case study: connecting through to a suburb via Hornby Schools “Village Cluster” project

One very productive visit made by Science Alive was to Hornby schools. This begins to indicate some new possibilities.

Hornby schools at all levels have networked themselves in a “village cluster”. This was done to support a vision of “smooth transition from early-childhood centres through to high school and tertiary levels.” (News item: “Hornby schools share resources in cluster” “ in The Press, 8 October, 2011).

The schools are helping to develop local village connections and identity across the ages and schools by sharing facilities, and having Hornby High pupils coach primary school sports teams.

The Press report continues that one of their first joint initiatives was a Science Alive-led robotics tutorial for 28 gifted and talented pupils from years 6 to 10 from the eight schools.

This encounter illustrates how contemporary global innovation could be taken through to very local levels, penetrating all the more deeply into suburban areas and cultures through local organizations like schools that were themselves well networked locally. Research has been done on how community groups of a new and different kind could also develop local networks, but that would take me too far afield for this brief submission.

8. Trail-blazing potentially two-way flows

The point is that here an organization is, in effect, trail-blazing the creation of channels that could be used, in the context of the proposed globally-connected business campus, to transmit and develop new knowledge between local and global levels.

Hornby students will have their own questions to ask of Science Alive and be able to bring up their own ideas. Science Alive could then take such questions and ideas back to the central hub, from where they can reach global organizations connected to it. Meanwhile, local students with new knowledge would be stimulated to carry on thinking in new ways about technology, its applications, and its possible effects on society.

This is an example of how two-way, local-through-to-global connections could be made by an innovative and smart city.

Will the new Christchurch be up to this? That is something I would like Cera to consider in planning, prioritizing, and any relevant funding.

Many express concern about the huge cost of Christchurch recovery; new ways of generating income are now all the more needed.


Appendix 1

Brokering international relations and online services framework to open up opportunities

The two-way networking process between local and global dimensions described in this submission is one that could be carried out to good effect in Christchurch.

If Christchurch followed up on the kinds of proposals in this submission, I believe it could take a lead in showing the rest of the country how to move in new and highly productive directions in the digital age.

I would like to take the opportunity presented by this submission as being a Christchurch process in which the central government is directly involved, especially involving Mr Gerry Brownlee as a special Minister for Earthquake Recovery.

In my very considered view, there is a move that could be made at national level that would make a massive difference to what could be accomplished in Christchurch, along with other parts of the country.

That national-level change would involve developing New Zealand’s foreign relations around an international brokerage framework, one in which this country could clearly and simultaneously engage strongly, as well as our traditional friend the United States, also China and, for that matter, India amongst others.

As things stand, New Zealand wants and needs to relate well to all of these powers, although they do not always relate well to one another. Both the United States and India in particular have at times quite tense disagreements with China. New Zealand absolutely needs to avoid having to make invidious choices between these nations if they get off-side with one another; it literally cannot afford, economically or diplomatically, to get seriously offside with any of them.

With the emergence of China into the world economy and its projection into the wider Asia-Pacific region generally, I would suggest that it is an excellent time for the central New Zealand government to review its international diplomatic and economic relationships, and to look closely at a new diplomatic option.

It could be extremely productive in general not to get caught up in the conflicts of others so as to be available as a neutral nation to help them to find diplomatic solutions. This would enable New Zealand to avoid expectations that it should take sides over conflicting policies or in confrontational situations. Most importantly, it would also position it to make constructive and significant contributions to helping reduce tensions in a region where there are no many problems but no readily available peace-brokers.

The value of becoming a neutral broker of trusted diplomatic, conflict resolution services is that this would provide a base from which trusted professional information storage and broking services to all could also be developed.

These services could include cloud-storage and -processing services.

These services could also be further developed over time by building up international seminar, conference and academic study programmes, both physical and on-line, about scientific, business, social and other issues for which new, relevant and useful, globally-accessible and shared databases and cloud computing could be built up or backed up in New Zealand.

Finally, the kinds of development sketched in this appendix would require prioritization of high-speed digital cabling to places like the United States, China and India. If these countries became interested, it could be anticipated that they would also help substantially to provide the needed moral and tangible support.

The New Zealand Herald report in appendix 2 below provides some documentation of the potential for New Zealand as pointed to in this appendix.

Appendix 2

NZ ‘well positioned’ to be data centre of the Pacific

By Hamish Fletcher

New Zealand has the chance to boost its economic growth by becoming the data-storage hub of the Pacific, says the company planning the country’s second international internet link.

Pacific Fibre chief executive Mark Rushworth said New Zealand should follow the lead of Iceland, which is setting itself up as a key data site between Britain and the United States.

The services of international data centres, or giant warehouses filled with servers, are in hot demand as the amount of information stored on the internet skyrockets.

“Iceland is very much positioning itself at the moment as the data centre between London and New York. It has an abundance of electricity and, of course, you can’t export electricity so what they’re saying is that they can export data,” Rushworth said.

“We see a similar vision for New Zealand as it’s politically safe and neutral and would be a fantastic location for data centres between Asia and the United States.” [bold added by submitter]

End of submission

This submission sketches a way in which local and global flows might be connected – do you think could this work, or not? Would it be useful, or not? Your comments very welcome.

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