Albury and Wodonga have recently released their digital economy strategy for public feedback. In the spirit of advocating and sharing digital information, we spoke with Matt Taylor, Manager of Economic Development at the City of Wodonga, about the report and its implications going forward for the cities of Albury and Wodonga.
The full report can be downloaded from the City of Wodonga here, and community feedback is highly encouraged. An executive summary is also available for those with limited time. Matt Taylor emphasised that the report highlights that the potential benefits of the digital economy are extremely significant.
“The upper limit of our forecasted benefits from the digital economy is $571 million per annum in value added. The impact that could have on our community is enormous.”
The Albury Wodonga area is well placed in terms of digital readiness, largely due to a number of key business leaders who are setting the example in embracing digital technologies along with council digital initiatives such as the ‘Snap Send Solve’ app for reporting incidents to council. But as with all communities in Australia, there are a number of challenges to be faced in order to reach the upper limit and unleash the full benefits of the digital economy.
One of the biggest challenges is communicating the realistic benefits and costs to the community to facilitate adoption. A 2013 local business survey revealed that 30% of respondents believed there would be no benefit from digital training, while 10% of respondents believe the costs of implementing a digital strategy will outweigh the benefits.
Education and digital leadership therefore need to comprise a large part of the digital strategy. Digital success will partly be a product of a digital culture in the region that supports and grows itself. Local collaboration around digital best practice and good news stories should be facilitated through networking events, discussion forums and the creation of an online digital business portal for learning and sharing.
An integral component of the digital culture will be the establishment of a Digital Economy Strategy Working Group. The group should be comprised of key members from government, business, health, education and the community to promote ownership of the strategy and appropriately coordinate the digitisation of all sectors in the Albury Wodonga community.
There are 31 key actions in the delivery project plan. Some interesting actions include:
- The establishment of the working group as discussed above
- Delivery of an eGovernment project to expand Council services online
- Delivery of a desktop client video all/booking project for community engagement and internal corporate use
- Establishment of a “Digital Retail Champions” network for collaboration to address barriers to digital retail
- Review of Wi-Fi in Wodonga
- Increased awareness of health models and the introduction of NBN funded telehealth scheme
The full delivery project plan is available from page 52 of the strategy.
If you are doing some great work with digital technologies in the Hume region, submit your story to Digital Hume to share your wisdom with the rest of the community.