Xtra has unveiled the first phase of its "online community" project - an-all-about-Auckland site called aucklandlive.
The first phase of the site, which launches on July 1, will offer news, traffic reports, sports, entertainment and restaurant listings, real estate and classifieds, a shopping section and links to a range of community organisations and schools.
Xtra says the second phase of the project will introduce tools allowing organisations and members of the public to add information to the site themselves. The success of the project will probably dictate how quickly Xtra expands the initiative to the other centres for which it has registered domains - from Wellington to Greymouth.
The first confirmed content providers for aucklandlive are the Met Service, whose reports will be free to users of the site, and the street mag Lava, which will provide gig and club listings. Spokesman Quentin Bright says a local news provider is about to sign up, and he expects "about a dozen" content partners to line up in the next few months.
Xtra marketing manager Ian Scherger says the project aims to be "complementary, rather than competitive with," other content providers. "The news we carry will be short-cycle headline-style. For depth, people will still go to newspapers."
Although aucklandlive is shaping up as a model Web portal, Scherger says Xtra will not be actively encouraging Auckland-based Xtra subscribers to choose aucklandlive as their Web browser start page.
"People will decide what they want to do on the basis of the value they get," says Scherger.
Scherger says the site will strive for "local relevance", with bus timetables and other information provided where appropriate. Community and sporting groups and schools with Websites are listed in various sections on the site. Having a Website is not regarded as a prerequisite for a presence on aucklandlive, but it's not clear how far Xtra will go to bring community groups online.
The site's classified section currently links through to Trade and Exchange's site, and restaurant listings come from NZ Host, which charges charges for listings on its index. Xtra's registration of domains relating to major Auckland shopping centres such as Manukau City, St Luke's and Queen Street may give an indication of plans for the shopping section.
Although the current site is built on Xtra's existing platform, an expansion later in the year, which will see local content to flow in from different centres, will be built on new technology.
The URL of the site on launch day will be www.aucklandlive.co.nz, and the rest of the project will follow the "live" theme, with variations such as aucklandonline.co.nz and aucklandworld.co.nz likely to be relinquished. Domains registered so far this year in the name of Telecom Internet Services include those relating to the Bay of Islands, The Bay of Plenty, Blenheim, Central Otago, Christchurch, Dunedin, Gisborne, Greymouth, Hamilton, Hastings, Masterton, Napier, National Park,
Nelson, New Plymouth, Northland, Palmerston North, Rotorua, Tauranga,Timaru, Wanganui, Wellington and Whangarei
What, no Queenstown?