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Action Hobson Takes Message To Shanghai

Wednesday 25 August 2004

Action Hobson Takes Message To Shanghai

Action Hobson, the new political vehicle set up to oppose the planned Eastern Motorway and to promote Rapid Transit Solutions to Auckland’s traffic woes, has taken its campaign to Shanghai, China.

Richard Simpson, one of the world’s leading experts in geospatial information technology and urban design, and an Action Hobson candidate for the Auckland City Council, is a guest speaker at this week’s MapAsia 2004 conference in China’s leading city.

Mr Simpson said the conference was a great opportunity to learn how other leading international cities were dealing with congestion and population growth, and to bring those ideas back to Auckland.

“There is enormous economic growth and infrastructure development in Shanghai but it seems to be avoiding the congestion Aucklanders suffer everyday," he said. “For example, Shanghai is the first city in the world to successfully implement a Magnet-Levitation Train, which connects the airport and CBD at 450 kilometres an hour. It’s important that when Aucklanders hear Action Hobson talking about Rapid Transit Solutions, they don’t think of our existing train service, which is too slow, if the trains show up at all.”

Mr Simpson said Auckland, a much smaller city than Shanghai, did not necessarily need such expensive technology as a Magnet-Levitation Train, but it demonstrated there were options available other than motorways that destroy the environment and community without solving congestion problems.

“My work has taken me to countries all around the world, including, China, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand, and I don’t think Aucklanders understand that the congestion we suffer is often much worse than found in the major cities of those countries. We won’t get anywhere staying on the same ‘motorways-first’ track we’ve been on for the last 50 years.”

Last year, Mr Simpson was one of only two private-sector speakers to be invited to present a paper to a special United Nations conference in Japan on the theme “Evolving into a New Stage – Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific”. He was also invited to speak at the New Zealand Institute of Architects Annual Conference on his 20 years as a pioneer in New Zealand’s computer graphics industry and its evolving application to architecture and urban design.

Earlier this year, Mr Simpson was also a keynote speaker at the GITA conference in Tokyo speaking on the topic of “Critical Infrastructure Protection”, along with some of the top international experts in anti-terrorism and Homeland Secrurity. The conference focussed on the need for city infrastructure to not only be well engineered, but built to minimise risk of terrorism – bio, physical, and cyber.

In Auckland during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mr Simpson was part of the original design team for the first Sky Tower proposal on Symonds St, and led the team to resolve the complex computer simulations establishing environmental performance controls governing the buildable height envelope over the Central Business District. The original work was a world first.

He plans to bring this experience to the Auckland City Council as a Councillor after this year’s election.

“Through learning about what works and what doesn’t overseas, we really can get Auckland moving again, and make it the great place to live that we all believe it should be,” he said.

Mr Simpson, who was committed to the Shanghai trip before being selected to stand for Action Hobson, returns to campaigning in Hobson next week.


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