Tag Archives: social media

Learn How Digital Technologies Will Help Your Agribusiness

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.

Prepare Your Business For The Opportunities With The NBN

Fergal Coleman – Director of Symphony3 recently presented on the how businesses can prepare for opportunities presented by the NBN.

Below are the slides of the presentation. Some great information there on using the NBN, how your business needs to change and what are the benefits.

After you view the slides let us know via twitter how you have OR plan to prepare your business for the digital economy.

[slideshare id=22101633&doc=digitalbusiness-broadband-20may20130519-130528224135-phpapp02]

Run through some of our diagnostics to prepare your business for the NBN.

Visit The Digital Rural Futures 2013 Conference

With 12 keynote speakers and 58 breakout and poster presentations the conference offers the chance to interact with some of Australia’s mostDigital Futures Region 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.

Click here to learn more about the conference.

Case Study: BIG4 Shepparton East Holiday Park

For the latest in our series of Hume region business case studies, we spoke to Kaye Bernardi - owner of the BIG4 Shepparton East Holiday Park.

Business overview

Kym & Kaye Bernardi have owned and operated the BIG4 Shepparton East Holiday Park for 14 big4-shepparton-east-logoyears. They are an independent member of BIG4 Holiday Parks franchise, which has parks all around Australia. They currently have 23 self-contained cabins, 12 ensuite  powered sites, powered caravan & tent sites and 12 mobile homes. The park predominantly caters for the family market. Both Kym & Kaye have made significant capital investment into technology and their park ensuring it has some of the best family friendly facilities like giant jumping pillow, solar heated pool, synthetic grass tennis court, pedal go-karts, recreation room and camp kitchens.

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Falls Creek – a digital economy contradiction

For the latest in our series on digital economy planning in Victoria’s North East we spoke to David Herman, CEO of Falls Creek Resort Management. This article explores some of the issues that we discussed with David, looking at current and future infrastructure needs for Falls Creek, and more generally at broadband connectivity issues for alpine communities in Australia.

Falls Creek is a location facing a major challenge with digital infrastructure. In 2012, the Australian ski industry is highly developed in its use of digital media to communicate with visitors from Australia and around the world. This has been vital for marketing the regions in the lead up to and during each ski season, and for communicating with visitors after they arrive. Victoria’s alpine resorts have also looked to develop sustainable industries outside the main winter boom, such as all-season tourism options. However, their plans for the future are overshadowed by the potential for limited or no access to the high-speed broadband services that are expected to transform the economies of other regional towns.

In many regards, Australia’s alpine resorts are some of our most sophisticated regions in terms of their adoption of digital technologies. Weather reports, snowfalls, news, events and other information is sent out hourly via the Falls Creek website and social media accounts. This year, the resort became the first Australian town to be equipped with Near-Field Computing (NFC) technology – allowing visitors to over 50 local businesses to instantly access resort information via their smartphones.

The town transforms during the winter, as visitors flock to the region. Each year, telecommunications infrastructure is placed under greater strain as visitors bring more mobile devices with them. This year telecommunication services could not keep up with the increased demand – leaving Falls Creek visitors with limited access while the company struggled to increase capacity. The resort’s mobile network is expected to improve, but it demonstrated the problems that Falls Creek faces when demand from visitors outstrips the resources available to the town.

Currently, Victoria’s alpine resorts are not included in the NBN rollout plan. The remote location and low permanent population of each resort count against them, and Falls Creek Management has been informed that the resort is not listed at present to receive NBN access. The town has a relatively small population outside of the peak season, with only 250 permanent residents – although they are an important tourism hub, receiving approximately 600,000 visitors each year. During the 18 week ski season alone, close to 400,000 people arrive in the resort village.

Regional advantages

The benefits of living 1,600 metres above sea level aren’t limited to snow on the slopes. Around the world, alpine regions are beginning to use their low temperatures and high altitude locations as competitive regional advantages. The development of sustainable all-season tourism options has been a priority for Falls Creek.

Falls Creek is already used by many athletes for high altitude training, between November and March each year. High-profile teams like the Melbourne Rebels and Geelong Football Club have begun sending their players up to the mountains for physical conditioning on the region’s running trails, cycling routes and lake courses. To further develop their capacity in this area, the resort is planning a $30 million Altitude Training Facility – incorporating football field, gym, swimming pool and sports medicine facilities. This would fill a local niche for specialist high altitude facilities, such as those offered by the USOC’s flagship training centre in Colorado Springs.

Even outside the ski season, low temperatures can be an advantage. As Australia moves to a more service-oriented economy, cloud computing options for software and data storage are increasingly important. Data centres generate a lot of heat, and cooling them to workable temperatures requires vast amounts of energy. Across the northern hemisphere, tech giants have begun to build their newest data centres in cold regions – making use of the low ambient temperatures to reduce their energy consumption. These include Facebook’s new data center in Lulea, Sweden, Yahoo’s hydro-powered facility in Lockport, New York State and Google’s €200 million investment in Hamina, Finland. The scale of these developments show that major players in this industry are serious about the benefits of operating in these regions.

With only 0.01% of Australia’s surface area in alpine regions, we have a limited number of communities that could take advantage of their natural cold climate; developing new industries to service a digital economy while reducing our environmental impact. Leaving resort communities like Falls Creek ‘off the grid’ of the national broadband network seems a short-sighted plan: successful alpine towns around the world are showing that the mountains are far more than just a winter holiday destination.

Regional promotions – social media and tourism at the Regional City of Wangaratta

For the latest addition to our series on local government in Victoria’s North East, we spoke to Emma Keith – Tourism Development Officer at the Rural City of Wangaratta.

 

Key facilities in the Wangaratta council all have active social media platforms, chosen to complement their existing promotions. These are being used to build and engaging with local audiences, and to reach out to prospective visitors. Wangaratta’s visitor information centre currently uses a YouTube channel, lists their walking tours on TripAdvisor and Facebook, and has begun dabbling in Twitter and Pinterest. Similarly, the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre has built up a successful Facebook presence, with over 900 followers and 1,000 location check-ins. They have taken a personable approach, sharing ‘behind the scenes’ photos and stories with friends of the Arts Centre.

Another example of successful online activity in the region is the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail – a cycling route connecting Wangaratta, Rutherglen, Beechworth, Myrtleford and Bright, linking visitors to local food, wine and accommodation. The trail is actively promoted on many social media channels, such as TripAdvisor, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Emma notes that the local wine makers are very active in regional promotion, particularly through initiatives like King Valley Prosecco Road wine trail. Wineries like Dal Zotto, Pizzini and Brown Brothers use Twitter to share stories from the region, helping to raise awareness of the region, and engage people during their stay. “When they come to the vineyard, they feel like they are already part of that conversation – like they already know the people behind the cellar doors.” The council has also heard of local wineries using Twitter to organise direct sales to B2B and wholesale customers.

While many of Wangaratta’s arts and tourism promotions are highly active on social media, Emma also discusses ways to help those who are still lagging behind. Some businesses are reluctant to start as they feel that setting up and learning to use a social media account may be too complex or time consuming. Improving access to social media training and mentoring helps to overcome this barrier, giving businesses the confidence to get involved in this new economy.

Wangaratta Council is beginning a 12 month project on YouTube that will encourage local residents to contribute user generated content in the form of a 90 second video grab. These give people the opportunity to share the “best things in their own back yard” in their own words. For this, the council hopes to act as facilitators – allowing people to talk within the community, instead of sending official messages in to them.

The council also began trialling Facebook ads earlier in 2012, for tourism promotions around the NAB Cup match to be held at the Wangaratta Showgrounds. They created a series of ads with destination-focussed imagery, designed to inspire and motivate different groups, improving attendance at these events. Initial ads targeted fairly broad demographics, aimed at people in Melbourne and regional NSW. Local operators saw an immediate increase in demand, with some selling out events across the long weekend. The range of statistics available from these campaigns provide a great deal of insight to council into the demographics for these events, such as the location, age, and other interests of the people involved. These can be used to further refine the promotion of other events in the region.

Social Media at the City of Wodonga

We recently spoke to Sue Beatty, Community Relations Manager at Wodonga City Council. She explained how social media has become an important part of her council’s communication strategy.

 

Wodonga Council’s social media campaigns have allowed them to reach and engage with an audience that previously had little involvement with council services and affairs. They adopted a measured approach to building their social media presence – making sure that each development had been properly considered, and putting policies in place before acting.

Like many councils, one of Wodonga’s earliest social media forays involved a Facebook council page. In order to overcome initial difficulties in getting enough Likes for their content, they ran Facebook competitions that helped them attract more followers.

Wodonga Council was also the joint winner of the 2012 Government Communications Australia award for Best New or Digital Media. This award was received for their YouTube channel, featuring “Mrs Mac’s story time.” Every fortnight, new story book readings are added to the channel – watched by local primary school students, and a growing audience of fans around the world.

Sue’s advice to other councils that are considering their move into social media is to take your time making sure that you have appropriate processes in place. Resourcing is particularly important to consider – make sure you have the staff to react and respond as needed.

Local Government thoughts on the digital economy

Local Government has an important leadership role to play in ensuring the digital economy becomes a reality  in the region. We recently met with Murrindindi Shire Council (Economic Development Officer, Bob Elkington) and Strathbogie Shire Council (Economic Development Officer Phil Howard, and IT Manager Richard Bianco) to get their thoughts on the digital economy and the opportunities and challenges it presents.

Listen to the videos below to hear their thoughts.

Some recurring themes include:

  • Fear among the local community and local businesses about the digital economy
  • The lack of skills among many small organisations
  • The need for local governments to upskill, and to change their cultures to better embrace the digital economy
  • The need for champions, advocates and case studies highlighting those businesses and organisations that are maximising their use of the internet
  • The need to share skills, expertise and resources across organisations and to collaborate where possible; and to provide a framework to do that
  • The need to bring in outside expertise where skills don’t exist
  • The importance of getting the discussion started – what does the NBN and digital economy really mean for the region?
  • The need for innovation and creative thinking needed to take advantage of new ways of doing business

Examples were given of organisations effectively using the internet  in the farming, tourism, equine, health, and leisure industries.

Strathbogie Shire Council

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5dOFEg4xEo]

Murrindindi Shire Council

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsEDfVncylw]