Southern Grampians Shire Council - A Smart Connected Rural Community

Funded

Southern Grampians Shire Council

Southern Grampians Shire Council, entire LGA , Victoria

Project stage

In progress

Timeframe

Start date: 01 January 2018
End date: 31 May 2019

Project value

Australian Government funding:
$150,000
Total:
$300,000

Partners

  • Meshed
  • OpenDataSoft
  • WideBand
  • Naeus
  • ICT International

Focus area

  • Visitor experience
  • Innovation and economic development
  • Public administration and customer service
  • Public safety (crime and disaster prevention and management)
  • Education and public health
  • Natural environmental data and measurement (air quality, dust, noise, waterways)
  • Other

Project type

  • Smart lighting
  • Community engagement
  • Visitor experience
  • Smart parking
  • Smart waste
  • Smart amenity management
  • Environmental monitoring
  • People movement
  • Other

Technology type

  • Internet of Things
  • Wi-Fi
  • CCTV
  • Data Management (Data platform, open data, data privacy and security, blockchains, standards)
  • Smartphone applications
  • Hardware
  • Wireless sensor networks
  • Environmental sensors
  • Smart poles
  • Online portal
  • Other

Open data link

Project link

Project summary

Southern Grampians Shire Council (SGSC) is building a local Digital Ecosystem to transform our rural, aging and declining community into a thriving Smart Connected Community.

Leveraging the Council provided LoRaWAN IoT network and public WiFi, SGSC is investing in smart technology to drive innovation and economic development.

With the limited resources of a rural council, SGSC is taking a ‘Do it yourself’ approach to Digital Transformation, ensuring that we bring our community along for the ride.

The challenge

Like many smaller rural councils Southern Grampians Shire Council (SGSC) have challenges around investment attraction, population growth and providing our community with the same opportunities and connectivity as larger metro councils.

Leveraging the SGSC Digital Strategy (2016) and the ‘SGSC Smart Community Strategic Framework and Roadmap’ (2017), Council is working hard to invest in and build a local digital ecosystem to support and boost our community. SGSC is looking to transform into a Smart Connected Rural Community.

The goals that SGSC are aiming to achieve in transforming into a Smart Connected Rural Community are:

  • Reducing the digital divide between metropolitan and rural councils, providing our rural community with similar connectivity and digital opportunities as a metro based community.
  • Generating population and business growth. By providing a ‘Connected Community’ we aim to attract more people to relocate into our region and enjoy the fantastic lifestyle that a rural community can offer but importantly still feel ‘connected’. By providing key connectivity infrastructure such at SGSC’s free LoRaWAN IoT network we aim to attract new business into our region especially focusing on the agriculture sector.
  • Retaining our youth. Currently there are no pathways for our youth to study and pursue a career in the digital space, if our youth wish to study coding, graphic design or other digital streams they need to leave the region and then we struggle to attract them back. We need to work hard and create opportunities to attract businesses to the region so there are employment pathways in these fields locally.
  • Enticing greater tourism to our region by providing engaging and interactive experiences that stand SGSC apart from the rest of the market, creating safe, enjoyable experiences that can be shared with others.

Solution

SGSC’s digital transformation is aimed at benefiting the entire community and the broader region. Council services will definitely gain an advantage as internally we look to leverage off the technology put in place to improve service delivery, but most importantly transitioning to a Smart Community is for the benefit of our community, supporting local businesses and attracting innovative businesses to our region.

Benefits

As we are still in the implementation phase it is hard to measure results, the biggest impact we have seen however has been the shift in perception of Council by our community. Our community which are always our hardest critic have been really positive and supportive of Councils Digital Transformation goals. They are excited that their Council is taking the initiative and lead in this space and are keen to see the outcomes.

The long term future outcomes we see of transforming SGSC into becoming a Smart Rural Community are:

  • Shift from a declining population to a growing population
  • Retaining our youth in the region
  • IT/Digital education opportunities offered locally
  • Innovative new business start-ups in our region, especially in the smart agriculture sector
  • A community that is connected and engaged

Lessons learned

Our biggest challenge is still to come, the community engagement/education process that SGSC will need to perform. Our Digital Strategy shows that our community/local businesses are coming from a very low digital capacity/understanding base. We need to work extremely hard to showcase the benefits of technology like the LoRa IoT network and free public WiFi and help open their minds to the opportunities available to them.

As Council looks to move more services online we need to ensure we bring our community along with us so that they are comfortable and understand. That is one reason why we have invested in the ‘connectGH’ public WiFI solution across all townships, we need to provide equality of access for all of our community to use future Council services.

Vendor selection is also challenging, many vendors are aiming solutions at Councils much larger than SGSC with much bigger budgets. Vendor section is crucial to ensure what we implement is sustainable into the future.

Outcomes

Foundational connectivity infrastructure implemented with six LoRaWAN gateways operational, ‘connectGH’ public WiFi solution has been launched in each township.

Smart Technology pilots underway

  • Weather stations implemented in each township. Providing localized real time weather data being released via Open Data.
  • Parking sensors installed to provide usage data of car parks in our CBD. Economic Development are using this data to evaluate CBD revitalisation. Data also used by Local Laws to analyse optimal staffing requirements for street patrols.
  • IoT community platform invested in allowing our community to easily access, analyse and visualize IoT data
  • Self-walking tour solution invested in providing a boost to tourism with an engaging digital solution, allowing them to experience and explore the wonderful natural surroundings we have in SGSC.

More pilots to come around Smart lighting, Security, waste, watering and a large effort around community digital capacity building.

Contact details

Name: Russell Bennett
Phone: 03 5573 0455
Email: rbennett@sthgrampians.vic.gov.au