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Creating a deep infrastructure tool and asset for Christchurch – a (relatively) cheap idea well worth NZ Inc considering


Here’s an idea, so time topical it deserves much more thinking about by Christchurch, government and NZ Inc.

The Cement & Concrete Association of NZ’s (CCANZ) education and development manager Joe Gamman spoke at the recent Multicore World 2013 conference in Wellington. He’s been working alongside Callaghan Innovation on a potential ‘big data’ project for the past few months, and MW13 was, comparatively speaking, its first public airing. (Here's the publicly available 'Smart Idea' project that received funding)

The general topic of his talk was around ‘Networked Infrastructure – Connecting Christchurch to the World’.

Dr Gamman’s pitch is to use the rebuilding of Christchurch as the world’s first test validation site for a ubiquitous sensing of the built environment. (Some of his presentation can be found here).

In other words, with standalone sensors able to be placed in any number of structures, buildings, roads, underground infrastructure (well, just about anything really), and the data about stresses, uses, traffic, changes over time (anything you want to measure) being collected, why not make this data available to the world.

What Dr Gamman sees being created is a piece of knowledge infrastructure; which only grows more valuable over time, and helps other people design new cities and improve old ones based on the learnings gained by having abundant infrastructure sensors as part of Christchurch’s rebuild.

“We have the opportunity to be high-touch as well as high-tech,” Dr Gamman says. “Such a curated data set would itself become an asset. A networked-Christchurch project would create a city where people will want to come to see what cities of the future will look like.”

Dr Gamman says there are a number of issues to address – not the least the legal framework around the data, who and how it can be accessed, and how it is protected.

Now, data security will become increasingly important as we develop an ‘internet everywhere’ society.

But security is just one component of an extremely good idea that would take advantage of the opportunity that Christchurch’s rebuild now provides.

Dr Gamman (and a hat tip to CCANZ for giving him the means to explore this idea) is now stress-testing the proposal, looking for corporate and government backers, and generally running the idea up the flagpole to see who salutes.

It is an idea, which, if implemented will benefit everyone, everywhere.

It will especially benefit Christchurch and provide huge economic spillover benefits for the city and New Zealand.

Gerry Brownlee, this would seem like a low-cost, high-profile and high return project that would be a real focal point in Christchurch’s rebuild.

As a government, National plays free and loose with the word ‘innovation’ – well here’s one that deserves a boost.

Creating a deep infrastructure tool and asset for Christchurch – a (relatively) cheap idea well worth NZ Inc considering

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