CDU is part of a new project that will pave the way for investment in communications infrastructure across Northern Australia.
Funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), the project aims to improve the profitability and competitiveness of producers in the North and attract investors to put in place affordable digital networks.
The 12-month “Northern Australian Communication Analysis Project” will mobilise a consortium of research, business and industry partners including CDU, the Centre for Appropriate Technology in Alice Springs and Regional Development Australia Northern Territory.
It will identify barriers and provide solutions to enhance telecommunications and internet connectivity, as well as digital inclusion more broadly, in the North.
CRCNA Chair Sheriden Morris said digital inclusion, which comprised access, affordability and digital ability, was essential to economic prosperity, social inclusion and community cohesiveness.
“We know Northern Australians are missing out on the benefits of being connected to technology or lack the skills and means to access the sorts of technology many Australians living in cities and some larger regional centres take for granted.
“Given Australia’s digital economy is estimated to be worth $139 billion by 2020, digital inclusion is an essential component of the task of developing Northern Australia,” Ms Morris said.
Researchers will spend the next year working with a range of industry and community stakeholders across the North, including all levels of government, telcos, regional development associations, agricultural organisations and bodies, education service providers, health and human services organisations and Indigenous groups.
These stakeholders will be engaged at forums, including one to be held in Darwin hosted by CDU’s Northern Institute.
The project team expects the research will help identify opportunities for efficiencies across key agricultural supply chains and help drive investment in digital technologies that are affordable, accessible and user-friendly for people living and working across the North.
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