Posts tagged ‘wifi’


One year on, the same issues remain pressing

23.04.2011

In 2011, the issues that I spoke about during my campaign remain as pressing as they always did.
   We still need better, wider and earlier consultation, whether we streamline current processes or create new ones for citizen engagement.
   We still need to build a city-wide wifi network, one which exists but needs a few top-level negotiations to make it work—with a real plan for expanding it to both lower socioeconomic areas and the eastern suburbs. It’ll create an infrastructure which will encourage more businesses built around teleworking, with a consequence of helping with traffic.
   It is a long-term plan, but just as roads were once the solution for 20th-century problems, the internet infrastructure is the solution for early 21st-century ones.
   Although, I must say, the ability for New Zealand to attract international investment for technological businesses has been hampered severely by central government and the copyright amendments.
   If you were an investor, you’d now think twice about investing in a country that has a presumption of guilt with an ill-defined concept of file-sharing. If you wanted a legislative minefield, there’s always the People’s Republic of China.
   If you were in the high-tech industry, you’d think twice if an MP equated the internet to Skynet, which, I might add, did not become self-aware on April 21, 2011. (Was this the reason for rushing the bill through under urgency, Mr Young?)
   I don’t know the government and the opposition’s motives, unless their will is to see New Zealand remain a low-wage, primary-products-focused economy bending to the whims of American lobby groups.
   New Zealand needs to capitalize on its creative advantage, Wellington even more so. We’re already behind the eight-ball on this, but our small population means we should be able to move more quickly.
   And start doing things that are right not just for three-year outlooks, but 30-year ones.

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Posted in business, culture, internet, leadership, New Zealand, politics, technology, Wellington | No Comments »


Creative or reactive? Your choice

13.09.2010

Back Jack Yan for Mayor The Fairfax Press has been very interesting in its coverage since the beginning of my mayoral campaign. A Miramar Wharf hotel–training centre development that I pushed for missed any quotes from myself, while today’s announcement of wifi for the waterfront by the incumbent and the Fairfax Press itself again does the same.
   But, you might be asking, does this change any part of my mayoral strategy? No. We knew there could be the possibility of such a move since April 2010, and it came up in our Vista Group conversations in August as ‘a done deal’.
   We simply have to ask one question: does Wellington want a creative mayor, or a reactive mayor?
   I know, a few of you cheeky ones will be posing the question back to me since I seem to be reacting to a newspaper article! In my mind I am preempting the questions you may have for me about my campaign.
   Let’s say we have wifi: do we want it as part of a political move, or something that has been integrated into a proper technological strategy for Wellington?
   Something well thought-out or something done for political reasons?
   Looking at the early Tweets, the tech community who would benefit first from such a programme seems to recognize just where the impetus came from.
   I consider it a partial victory that this has even come up on the radar at Wakefield Street, because if it were not for my pushing for it since September, I doubt it would even be on the political agenda. Or why Fairfax has kept wifi out of its pages during my campaign till now. The game has changed.
   And those of us in the creative community who value originality and a global vision for Wellington won’t want someone who can now be branded a copycat, moving out of desperation.
   In 2010, in a decade that is more complex than ever, and where processes and politicking have far less effect than they ever did, will you vote for creative, or reactive?

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Posted in business, internet, leadership, media, New Zealand, politics, publishing, technology, Wellington | 5 Comments »


Making free wifi pay—at no cost to ratepayers

16.08.2010

Victoria Street billboard backs Jack

With the first billboard going up in town, I’ve been asked about whether my free wifi programme will cost ratepayers.
   In a word, no. The wifi programme will be supported by selling the space on the home page.
   Upkeep of such a service, and I am looking at several alternatives, is in the low five figures, though considering the benefits to Wellington’s GDP is measured in the millions, it’s a sound investment.
   Where it could wind up costing Council is in the expansion of such a network. However, there are low-cost ways of doing that. The high figure is NZ$250,000 to roll it out to different areas, but lower figures have been proposed.
   I would like to roll out free wifi to more than the central city, targeting neighbourhoods that could benefit from the educational uses of the internet. Newtown and Johnsonville seem to be communities that could benefit most greatly.
   I’d do this after the central city programme was successful and I think the figures will support my intentionally conservative estimates. There will be rates’ gains to Wellington City thanks to productivity, improved businesses, and new businesses. If all indicators look good, then the rollout will continue to cost ratepayers the grand sum of zero dollars.
   There are other ways, too, to make free wifi pay. Last week, two of my supporters sent me an article on Starbucks’ plans to capitalize on its free wifi service.
   In Starbucks’ case, it’s launching a network that has premium content in news, entertainment, wellness, business and careers, and ‘My Neighborhood’.
   No money is changing hands: instead, the companies, such as Apple, are paying Starbucks for the opportunity to get new business.
   And if Starbucks can do it, why can’t Wellington City? The idea of opening up the home page to advertisers (incidentally, there is already interest, and we haven’t even launched) is the same principle, albeit in a limited way. Expanding it during year one to include premium content from Kiwi creatives can only be a good thing for how we see our city.

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Posted in business, internet, marketing, media, New Zealand, politics, publishing, technology, USA, Wellington | 5 Comments »


Getting Wellington out of debt—by growing the right businesses

01.07.2010

Back Jack Yan for Mayor In plain English, when a city is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt—depending on who you believe, the figure is between $200 million and $400 million—how do you get out of the hole?
   1. You can sell the family jewels, and there’s water left. We tried this in the 1980s, and now so many foreigners own New Zealand companies that the profits go offshore and we lose a source of tax revenue. Not good, doesn’t work.
   2. You can put up the rates for residents to the tune of 5·58 per cent and hope they cover some of this. (The figure was 5·5, then 5·75—so much for transparency.)
   3. You can keep praying that the Rugby World Cup will give a temporary boost and hope no one notices that the other years aren’t as prosperous.
   4. You can look at what the city has in terms of creativity and intellectual capital, and build on that, especially if the world values the innovative thinking of New Zealanders.
   Of the four, I prefer (4). This present mayor and council favour (2) and locked in that rise for us a wee while ago.
   I know in some circles my name has become associated with the free wifi for the central city promise, but it goes a bit deeper than that.
   Free wifi is like having roads in a city in the 21st century, and right now, what we have is like paying tolls on every single road we drive on.
   Compare this to Finland, who enshrined in law the right to broadband, which became effective yesterday (July 1). This means every citizen in Finland has a legal right to having broadband at a minimum speed of 1 Mbit/sec. With netbooks and cloud computing on the rise, this seems to be the logical thing to do. The old ways of having programs on your computer are disappearing.
   Get the infrastructure right—after all, Singapore and numerous US cities have done it, and Wellington has to play catch-up with Dunedin and Whanganui—and we can get other things right.
   The sectors that have the greatest potential in the 2010s, and in my mind are the biggest earners for New Zealand companies, are the tech and creative sectors. Both rely on the ’net and a more visionary direction for Wellington in a huge way.
   Clustering, mentoring and financing are the things we need to do, and they have to be driven from the top. Some are done through lobbying by a business-minded, pro-Kiwi mayor and council (rather than a pro-foreigner one). Others can be driven through council itself. But we need a shake-up in order to do this.
   They are all possible solutions, and some are happening now at an ad hoc level.
   I’d want to help those companies that are Kiwi-owned or will remain majority Kiwi-owned—this helps with job creation, with the city’s rates and with the country’s tax take. And if Wellington becomes a centre for this activity in the 2010s and demonstrates that we are an advanced economy, who knows what else we can inspire around the nation?
   It’s not an overnight solution. But I know we have businesses out there that can generate millions for the New Zealand economy. Thanks to our social consciousness, many are sustainable. We already have examples in businesses I’ve cited many times before: the Sidhes, Wetas, Silverstripes, Catalysts of this world are creating jobs for Wellington. We just need to expand on that and stimulate innovation.
   Equally important are the need for transparency and changing the culture within the Wellington City Council, topics for other posts.

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Posted in business, culture, internet, leadership, New Zealand, politics, technology, Wellington | 5 Comments »


Chatting to TV, radio and internet journalists for the mayoral campaign

11.06.2010

There have been a few times in the history of this blog where I stepped away from writing regularly. At the end of 2006, I had a pretty good excuse: I was in France. This time, my reasons for stepping away for a few weeks do not include: (a) I was spending too much time with the Miss Universe New Zealand contestants; (b) laziness; (c) being trapped in 1983 and discovering that DCI Gene Hunt controls the Lost island.
   I was, however, chatting to a few more of the parties that we needed to realize some of my election promises. And doing a few media interviews. And looking at more ways Wellington could get nearer balancing its budget, as our deficit has ballooned over the last decade.
   On May 15, I joined my opponent, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, on Access Radio’s Espace Français, in what was my first political interview in French. I expected a nice-natured chat till our hosts said they wanted a political debate. So the Councillor and I gave the audience one, coming from very different angles. I believe we are the only two Francophone candidates. And I don’t think Access does a Cantonese programme.
   You can listen to the interview here, though they only store the programmes for six weeks. You can also download from this link.
   I kept Leauna Zheng waiting for weeks while I prepared my emailed responses to her interview for Skykiwi, the leading Chinese expats’ site in New Zealand. Despite her wait, she wrote a marvellous article (in Chinese, here), and for those of you relying on Google Translate, please note that the term Chinese expatriate is not translated correctly. (I believe this is the first Chinese-language interview to include my name in Chinese ideographs.)
   And, finally, my interview with Bharat Jamnadas on Asia Down Under aired last Sunday. He’s very kindly put it on YouTube, though the aspect ratio is a tad off and I look thinner than usual. There are very nice comments from two members of the Wellington business community, Laurie Foon of Starfish and Brent Wong of Soi, to whom I am extremely grateful.

   The conversation at the end about Wellington v. Auckland was a good laugh, but there were some serious bits.
   And this Tuesday just gone, it was a pleasure to play a “dragon” in a Dragon’s Den-style setting analysing some of New Zealand’s entrepreneurs for New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.
   My thanks to Bharat, Leauna, Kenneth Leong, Laura Daly at Access Radio, Jean-Louis Durand and Arlette Bilounga, and Maria Gray and David Powell.

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Posted in business, China, culture, humour, internet, leadership, media, New Zealand, politics, technology, TV, Wellington | 1 Comment »


Wellington wants free wifi

17.02.2010

While I’ve been a LinkedIn member for many years—my LinkedIn ID has six digits, which gives you an idea of how long ago—I have to confess that I did not browse the brilliant Wellington, New Zealand group till quite recently.
   And free wifi is being talked up there, too, as something Wellingtonians genuinely want.
   We hear from expats who feel Wellington needs this as a major city, from Wellingtonians who believe this would be great for growing business, and from some concerned citizens who wonder where the money comes from.
   Fortunately, two of the posters there have experience in the wifi space, and can attest to the fact that the infrastructure already exists. As mentioned on my mayoral campaign site, we can make this profitable for the city. Secondly, it will provide an additional avenue for Wellington businesses to be found.
   Indeed, one of these experts notes that it was exceedingly rare for anyone to go mental over downloading things; in any case, I propose there will be a daily data cap on the service.
   When I made wifi one of my core issues last year, I knew instinctively it would be right for Wellington.
   I don’t live in a bubble, and I’m not part of the political élite. Which means I haven’t learned how to distance myself from the needs of Wellingtonians. I’ve been engaging with people for a long time with an eye on this campaign. Anyone with one’s pulse on the city knows that free wifi and new jobs are things that a world-class city needs—and I firmly believe Wellington is potentially world-class. I would hate for us to miss the opportunities that are before us right now, which can catapult us into the big league to become one of the world’s great cities.
   As those of you who came out to the two Asian Events’ Trust shows at TSB Arena in Wellington over the weekend know, I have returned to our shores after a wonderful trip to Europe. The warmest it got, I should note, was 2°C, which makes even a foggy, overcast day like today seem dreamy. (The coldest was –15°C.)
   Some of the conversations I had in Sweden still can’t be revealed yet (this isn’t about transparency—this is about legality), but I was there studying some benchmarks for transportation and the environment. I want Wellingtonians to know I travel on my money and I use the opportunity to benefit my city. I don’t miss these opportunities. (And yes, I was in København, too.)
   As some of you who have followed my career know, I am not talking about incremental improvements.
   After all, as early as 2001 I was talking about Fair Trade and social responsibility. By 2003, I had talked to the United Nations Environment Programme and convinced them that the best way of making environmental issues cool was to mainstream them through the world of fashion and celebrity—and Lucire’s partnership with them was born. The same year, we at the Medinge Group decided that Beyond Branding should be a Carbon Neutral book. The previous decade I was doing everything from web publishing (1993) to launching the country’s longest running online fashion title (1997).
   So when I talk about these ideas in Sweden, I am talking about game-changers that can benefit Wellington.
   You have to be a few years ahead of your time, given what politics is like. No one who seeks public office can afford to be reactive or behind the times. And I hope that in the last 23 years, I’ve managed to demonstrate a fairly good record of identifying the next big thing.
   And I owe a debt of gratitude to my good friend (and one of Sweden’s outside-the-box marketing thinkers) Stefan Engeseth for arranging my speeches and meetings. Thank you for entrusting me, Stefan, for being your first speaker in your Unplugged Speeches session—it was an extremely good, interactive morning. It’s not every day I get to interact with someone who works for NASA. (If you thought I was good, you should see speaker number two, who has a Ph.D. and is very easy on the eyes.) But mostly, thank you for inspiring me even more, because you, too, always seem to be a few years ahead of the game.
   As to France, the other country I spent heaps of time in on this trip, it was an honour to talk at the Sorbonne–CELSA campus with my colleagues at Medinge.
   While part of the Paris trip was occupied by a board meeting and with the 2010 Brands with a Conscience awards, I had the opportunity to discuss my mayoral campaign with the world’s leading brand thinkers in a meaningful, collegial presentation. Medinge, too, is filled with those forward-thinking from people who are nearly always right about their predictions of how the world would look in three to ten years’ time.
   And the session at La Sorbonne was, in my mind, a true highlight—where, again, Wellington got plenty of promotion, and I was able to share some thoughts with a smart, young audience.
   I’ll be letting voters know ahead of time what else was discussed with the Swedish companies, so you can be even better armed when you fill out your ballot forms for the local elections later this year.
   In the meantime, let me give my Facebook campaign page another little plug: click here for more. My heartfelt thanks to all those who have joined and have given me amazing encouragement for this campaign.

At the Sorbonne–CELSA
Cat Soubbotnik

Above At La Sorbonne–CELSA in Levallois. Below Presenting to my Medinge Group colleagues at MIP.

At Medinge Paris
Sergei E. Mitrofanov, copyright

StockholmRight I wasn’t kidding about Stockholm hitting –15°C. It was around –9°C when this pic was taken.

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Posted in branding, business, France, internet, leadership, New Zealand, politics, social responsibility, Sweden, technology, Wellington | 4 Comments »