The National Broadband Network (NBN) will deliver High Speed Broadband speeds to everyone in Australia. By 2015 farmers in the remotest parts of Australia can expect to start receiving high speed broadband services that will change the way they work and live.
To help business owners understand the benefits of the technology Digital Agriculture are running a webinar on the 13th of June.
Visit the webinars event page to learn more about registering for the event and who should attend.
With 12 keynote speakers and 58 breakout and poster presentations the conference offers the chance to interact with some of Australia’s most innovative business leaders, academics and regional development organisations, as well as farmers and farmer peak bodies, to set the scene and increase general awareness of delegates across a range of challenges and opportunities. See Professor David Lamb from UNE talking about the Conference running in Armidale 26-28 June 2013.
The goal of the Broadband Smart House project is demonstrate the use of the real-world applications of the NBN, including home automation, remote health monitoring, video-conferencing, rehabilitation, education, remote business, sensor monitoring, and environmental sustainability.(Source: RDA Northern Inland, 2013)
A smart home in Armidale, NSW has been created to conduct live workshops & demonstrations on the benefits of this new technology. The house is fitted with functioning installations where a typical family of four can try out the new technologies. At first instance the house will also be used by local TAFE and University students to trial and demonstrate various cutting-edge projects across a range of areas.
For today’s update, we spoke to Clayton Neil about the NBN, business and local government in the Alpine Shire Council.
Clayton spoke about how increasing numbers of people are moving to the Alpine Shire region for a ‘tree change’ – relocating to the mountains for a lifestyle change, but often bringing their work with them as well. Where existing infrastructure has allowed them to, many have relocated entire businesses away from Melbourne. These are typically the businesses that are most excited about the NBN rollout, as it gives them better access to staff and customers.
Many traditional business challenges still apply, such as finding appropriately skilled staff and evolving business processes to keep up with industry changes. Clayton notes that new technology is not a panacea – while new tools can bring many benefits, they are still just one part of the mix for each business. As the NBN rollout continues, councils can play a valuable role as conduits during this period – linking local residents and businesses with relevant information, research and contacts.
In our latest update, we speak to Peter Fitz – project manager for Moreland City Council‘s Digital Local Government project, in Brunswick. Brunswick is home to one of the early test sites for the NBN, and the council is looking at how the network can be used most effectively.
Moreland Council will use the NBN to improve their customer service via a tool called Moreland Connect. This allows residents to connect to council staff via a video-calling system, using computers at home or work. This allows staff to consult with residents about council issues, such as planning or service improvements. The project pilot is currently limited to the small NBN footprint, but will treble in size in the next 12 months .
An additional benefit will be the ability to film some of those customer encounters, with appropriate permissions, to create video stories that can be watched later – particularly important for after hours communications, when council offices and staff aren’t directly accessible. Later, they will also use the service to give people access to forms and other documents, allowing them to do business with the council after hours.
Peter notes that YouTube is currently the second most popular social media site, attracting hundreds of millions of viewers – and it is an important area for local government to explore. However, the content that we put online will be important. “If we make things boring,” he explains, “no-one is going to use it. Part of our challenge is to increase the content, make it interesting, and use the medium.”
Earlier this week, we covered Peter’s award-winning work on “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communications” – using visual storyboards and animations to communicate across language barriers. If you missed it, you can read that article here.
Following on from yesterday’s interview with Sue Beatty, we also spoke with Matt Taylor – acting Economic Development officer at City of Wodonga.
Wodonga is due to have NBN access in September 2014, and the council has been preparing for the digital economy over the past year. To date, they have already have conducted information sessions for local businesses, including visits to the Melbourne NBN Discovery Centre and the RMIT Advanced Manufacturing Precinct.
The council is currently planning a series of digital seminars with their local chamber of commerce, covering a range of topics including marketing skills and more effective use of business management functions.
Local businesses mostly fall into two categories: those on the “front foot” where new technologies are concerned, and those that worry about being overwhelmed. Matt’s advice for business managers is to embrace the change: look closely at what the digital economy can do for their business, and what they can do to utilise the digital economy to open up new markets – interacting not only with the local economy, but with markets across the country and overseas.
Some of Wodonga’s manufacturers, retailers and education bodies are already well positioned to take advantage of the digital economy. The council is looking at how they can most effectively facilitate introductions between these groups, helping to link businesses to the services and tools available to them.
The three preparation areas: skills, participation and access
Research and consultation undertaken by ARUP in the Hume region in March, April and May 2012, indicates that there are three broad areas that the region must focus on to prepare for the NBN and the Digital Economy*. They are:
Access can be viewed as the platform on which participation and skills are built. Access requires initiatives to ensure that the whole community gets access to high speed broadband. This may include partnerships between organisations (eg a collective of businesses, or businesses and local government) to supply interim broadband services to sectors of the community that won’t get NBN services in the short term.
Participation looks at initiatives that will ensure effective use of digital services. This includes leadership initiatives that drive the required change in the community to adopt digital tools . This may include initiatives at a regional level similar to the national Digital Champions initiative.
Skills focuses on developing training and services that improve digital skills and understanding in the community and promote the importance of the digital economy to the future well-being of the region.
*The Digital Economy Strategy for the Hume Region will be published in July 2012.
Do you have any ideas or comments as to how we can build digital readiness in the areas of skills, participation or access? We’d welcome your input via our comments form below.