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An autonomous, prosperous and sustainable community and council

Priority Area Five - Digital Transformation & Connected Islands

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the issue? 

Geographical positioning of Torres Strait Island communities and complex reef systems pose a significant challenge for conventional telecommunication solutions, quite literally requiring digital bridges between islands. Inadequate or bandaid style investment approaches in connectivity will drive an even greater digital divide for community members in economic participation, social inclusion and access to essential services like allied health and tertiary studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Why is this important for our communities? 

All communities, whether they be in the major capitals or in regional towns, need to be future ready. Linked-up, smart communities will foster innovative approaches to environmental and societal issues and ensure equitable access to the benefits of the knowledge economy. It is not uncommon for several and at times all 15 council footprints (and satellite office on Thursday Is.) to experience communication blackouts, sometimes lasting several days, requiring workarounds for essential services like power card provision and grocery purchases. Business continuity and disaster management activities within the outer islands are currently restricted to satellite telephony which is costly to operate and often not completely effective.

 


What we are seeking:

- Support for an expedient upgrade of basic telephony and data access to all outer island communities, creating parity with mainland infrastructure.

- Bi-partisan State and Federal support for investment models such as the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, with a strategic focus on regional, remote and inter-island infrastructure development.

- Leverage return on infrastructure investment through new tech and pilot programs that foster renewable energy, digital adaption and automation opportunities for remote communities.

- Establish a Digital Local Government and Rural/Regional Telecommunications Program to increase the community benefits of improved technology, connectedness and innovation.

 


What we know:

The Torres Strait is only at the precipice of its digital transformation journey with the Telstra Digital Expansion program, currently provisioning access to mobile and fixed line broadband services to some residents for the very first time. This consists of 12 separate projects on 10 of islands, providing radio link upgrades on multiple islands, which lays the foundation for future telecommunication improvements. The original program scope is currently not expected to reach its full potential and has suffered several delays, the most recent delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Whole-of-Government business transformation strategies that result in an interconnected government and collaborative citizen-centred approaches will underpin tomorrow’s smart cities.

 

Rural and regional Australia and its telecommunications connectivity capabilities will also underpin business transformation and interconnectedness.

 

Uptake of electric and autonomous vehicles in Australia will be limited by patchy telecommunications services in rural, regional and remote areas.

 

 


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