Earlier this month I spent a day in Christchurch meeting people for a series of articles about the city’s technology companies. I visited eight companies, ranging from innovative start-ups to the stalwarts of the ICT community.
I used the opportunity to talk about an event we had planned, but which we have now had to cancel — it was a debate with the moot “South Islanders will be the most innovative when it comes to fast fibre networks”.
We had decided to hold a debate in Christchurch because the city has always been a hot-bed of innovation. A draft report from the Canterbury Development Corporation says 16 of the top 100 local technology companies are based in Christchurch and collectively they contribute $1.18 billion to the economy. We also wanted to show support to the community following September’s earthquake.
I spent several hours in the Christchurch CBD on February 2, and the damage caused by the September earthquake was obvious — the closed shops in the retail centre, the scaffolding around crumbling building facades.
But the people I spoke to, while acknowledging the earthquake’s affect on them, didn’t appear to have let it slow them down any. They were getting on with business, hiring staff, coming up with new ideas, talking up their business case.
And then last week there was another earthquake, and this time it is much worse. There is a high death toll. Search and rescue teams continue to scour the rubble for survivors. Aftershocks are many and frequent.
Civil Defence Minister John Carter says the best way for New Zealanders to help Christchurch is to send cash.
“Businesses wanting to offer expertise, and people wanting to volunteer, are asked to please wait and not send staff and resources, or go to Christchurch themselves.
When local authorities have a clear idea of what is needed and are in a position to manage goods and volunteers they will advise publicly what is needed and where.”
Telecom has started a campaign to collect analogue landline phones from around the country to distribute to people in Christchurch without power, who only have cordless landline phones that are reliant on power. The ‘old fashioned’ corded analogue phones plug straight into a jack-point and don’t require mains power.
John Ferguson from Trade and Enterprise is collecting laptops to send to businesses in Christchurch. He is asking people with working laptops they wish to donate to send them to New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, well packed with the hardware and software specifications listed on the outside of the box to John Ferguson, Sector Manager — Digital Content & Technology, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, Level 11, 23-27 Albert St, Auckland.
Other businesses and organisations are offering their support, and equipment is being collected so that it is ready for when it is needed. In addition office space is being made available in cities around the country. Computerworld is running an article under the banner “ICT Christchurch Earthquake Support” on our website, which gives businesses, ICT interest groups, CIOs and IT managers the opportunity to express support and provide offers of help to their colleagues in Christchurch.
Prime Minister John Key said it best the day after the earthquake: “It will be a difficult journey, but progress is certain, things will get better, Christchurch will rise again. On behalf of the Government, let me be clear that no one will be left to walk this journey alone.”
The team at Computerworld sends everyone in Christchurch our very best and we repeat what is being said all over the country – our thoughts are with you.