Digital Future Forum


Digital Future Forum 4 – Digital is good for business


DFF4 was held at Bar One7Five in Palmerston North on 7th May 2014. Over 60 people attended and took part in the lively discussion. They included educators, creatives, community and interested individuals and council staff. Five City Councillors took a break from Annual Pan submissions to attend the second half of the event.

Key points

  • Connect Everyone in Palmerston North to the Internet
  • Grow Networks of Digital Movers and Shakers and be Visible
  • Show Digital Leadership and Vision
  • Grow and keep local talent
  • Support Digital Diversity


Peter Griffin and David Brebner kept everyone engaged as they probed the tremendous opportunities digital technology and the Internet brings to our city. They showcased the world leading examples of digital innovation happening here in our city.

Peter Griffin and David Brebner at DFF4

Download Peter Griffin’s Powerpoint Slides: Palmerston North – Digital City

Key points emerging from DFF4

Connect Everyone to the Internet

Universal digital connectivity has been shown to be a major contributor to innovation and social and economic development in cities. New York and Chattanooga are among the best known examples. NZ examples include the Manaiakalani Education Trust. Getting everyone in the city connected (to affordable, quality Internet connection) is a top priority. It’s not OK for a third of school children in our city to get left on the wrong side of the digital divide. We need cross sector collaboration to add capacity to the good work of Computers in Homes, PN Digital Inclusion Trust and other digital literacy initiatives in the city.

Grow Networks and be Visible

It was emphasized in the meeting with the speakers and the Mayor and again during the presentations that business and other sectors are largely unaware of the great digital work that is being done in our city. Innovative and world-class endeavors are largely happening in silos, invisible to each other. Ironically much of our city’s world-class work is better known abroad than in our own city.

Wellington’s high tech networking environment was held up as an example of what happens when digital movers and shakers meet regularly and share expertise and experience. Examples show that stronger networks directly increase levels of innovation. Clearly, events organized by DFF and others have a role to play but we should focus on creating a networking culture in Palmerston North.

Show Leadership and Vision

City wide leadership and goal setting in the digital space was discussed in the Mayor’s meeting, the presentations and discussion afterwards. Does Council have a role to lead in the digital arena or is it up to the community to take the initiative. Examples were given where both approaches have worked. For example, free Wi-Fi in the CBD was lead by the community and supported by Council; NYC’s digital road map is an example of courageous leadership from the Mayor to set a high level digital vision that filters down to all sectors of the city and which has developed NYC as the leading digital city in the world. All sectors and Council need to collaborate and set some high level digital goals we can all subscribe to and work towards.

Grow and keep local talent

The message that Palmerston North must become the city where talent is grown and wants to live was stressed during the Mayor’s meeting and the presentations. Gigatown is a competition we should try and win but we’re in a much bigger competition to keep and retain talent and be the vibrant city where digital natives want to live and work in knowledge economy companies.

Support Digital Diversity

It was stressed that while there’s a focus on Agri Business, Bio Commerce and being Food HQ, digital diversity was very important to maintain. We can be innovative and be part of the global digital knowledge economy. All sectors in our town can and should benefit hugely from digital technology and the Internet.


Our next forum will be Digital Success Stories. Do you have a digital success story to share? Shout out about it! Perhaps you’re doing something new and exciting in your school. Tell us about it. Maybe you’re doing world-class digital business – we’d love to hear about it. If you’re using technology in a new way and it’s improving the quality or effectiveness of your life or work – give us a bell!