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Friday 7 March 2014 12:15pm

sarah tapp 650Sarah Tapp is taking on the world, while becoming a Master of Planning.

Sarah Tapp happily counts off the advantages of doing an Otago Master of Planning: the job she's landed, international study, her Gigatown research project, and inspiring supervisors.

Sarah reflects on her luck in timing her Master's with Dunedin's win in the New Zealand Gigatown competition.

I saw it as a good opportunity for a research project before heading to Umea, Northern Sweden, to complete my final papers.

“Otago's 'MPlan' is a two year course; the first year is all papers, and the second year can be a full-year thesis or a 25,000 word research project and two papers overseas to finish it off. Dunedin won Gigatown, becoming the first city in the southern hemisphere to have access to giga-bit speed internet. I saw it as a good opportunity for a research project before heading to Umea, Northern Sweden, to complete my final papers.

“I started looking at how smart technology can be a catalyst for online interaction about how to develop Dunedin further.”

Delving into Gigatown

Encouraged by her “wonderfully supportive” main supervisor, Professional Practice Fellow Ros Day-Cleavin, Sarah conducted interviews with the Gigatown competition hosts, local City Council staff, and Gigatown competition campaigners, the Digital Community Trust. She also surveyed the Gigatown database for supporters' views regarding barriers to Gigatown success and how they foresee using the increased internet speeds.

“I found a big gap in public perception of what Gigatown was going to mean for the city and the reality of the prize. People thought they'd get instant free connection to high speed internet. The competition hosts, including Chorus, which has the Dunedin contract to roll out the required fibre optic facilities, weren't ready. Its roll out plan allowed years for implementation. They've had to speed that up markedly.”

Sweden's reputation as a Town Planning leader made Sarah regard it as a logical destination for completing her degree.

“I'm doing papers on reconstruction after a crisis. I'm from Christchurch and given our earthquake recovery work, I thought these papers offered an opportunity to learn from the experts.”

Sarah will return to New Zealand next year, straight into a Graduate Resource Management Planner position at Christchurch's GHD Resource Management Engineering.

“They've only hired Otago graduate planners for the past three years. MPlan and the networks I've developed through it definitely got me the job.”

Find out more about Otago's Master of Planning

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