The Federal Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has taken its regional online portal idea to market, seeking outside expertise to design, develop, and manage a new tech information Hub for regional communities.
The all-encompassing Digital Technology Hub will, it is hoped, offer a number of digital knowledge-building and infrastructure planning services for regional, rural and remote users, offering an array of functions to, for example, assess telco plans, improve digital literacy and online connectivity, and engage community members in the local digital planning process.
The Hub will be operated by a contracted third-party provider for the Department, and will offer its services to a range of users – including businesses, local council members, and the general public – across regional Australia.
An industry consultation paper released earlier this year by the Department said a dedicated Hub could cater to different requirements and groups within Australia’s regional communities.
Among the proposed features for the Hub include an independent repository housing information on community-relevant digital technologies and apps. This would enable end-users to build their skills and confidence to make the most of digital technologies, the Department said.
The Hub is to be complemented by a social media plug-in, enabling users to benefit from an instant messaging functionality.
Resolving communication concerns
On the telco front, the Hub will seek to resolve longstanding telecommunications issues across Australia’s regions, offering community members access to relevant resources, as well as a chance to air concerns and share insights through a dedicated social messaging service.
Using the Hub, the Department said it seeks to help consumers understand the complex array of network connections, plans, and technologies in their area – many of which sit within communications blackspots. These incorporate phone, mobile, and broadband services.
Information will be shared for regional businesses to clarify the potential of digital technologies for regional areas. Local communities and councils, it is hoped, will also be able to more readily engage in the digital planning process.
Maximising regional connectivity
The Hub’s broader goal will be to maximise the benefits of connectivity for regional businesses, the Department said.
“Innovative digital applications exist today that could have immediate positive impacts on regional business sectors if they are taken up,” a Department briefing paper said.
In agriculture, for example, technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) applications, automation, and collecting and using “whole-of-farm data” helps with better decision-making, while increasing production capacity and reducing the input costs.
For tourism, better connectivity enhanced the visitor experience, enables better targeting of marketing, and helped businesses respond more readily to new opportunities and challenges.
The industry tender for the Digital Technology Hub closes 6 July.