Region in prime position with release of smart centre plan
IN ALL his time working on digital economy strategies throughout Australia and the world, Neil Glentworth has never seen a regional centre so committed to capitalising on evolving technologies.
The Glentworth Consulting founder and executive chairman and Rockhampton Regional Mayor Margaret Strelow yesterday launched the Smart Regional Centre Strategy aiming to boost jobs, increase residential living and visitor nights and nurture innovative business start-ups.
While the strategy has been in the making for months, its release coincides with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's call for investment in start-ups and developing technology.
Mr Glentworth said the strategy put the region in prime position for future Federal and State government grants.
The strategy aims to facilitate business growth as well as providing support to the agriculture, education, health, manufacturing, mining and retail industries.
The strategy states several initiatives are expected to create at least 288 full-time equivalent jobs, including 95 direct jobs and 193 flow-on jobs.
Part of this will include a smart hub, providing "a high-tech facility for teleworking, collaboration, networking and learning opportunities".
Council will also continue discussions on establishing a not-for-profit community Internet Service Provider.
But the strategy isn't just focused on the economy, aiming to improve arts and tourism to make the region a desirable destination.
Cr Strelow said there had already been "tangible interest" in the smart hub.
"The talk about jobs in this plan is not pie in the sky," Cr Strelow said.
"It really is a tangible future and a natural direction for a city which has been proud of its diversity."
Cr Strelow said the strategy was focused on the region as a whole.
"This is not just about the CBD, although that's where fibre in the ground and start-ups may begin their life," she said.
CQUniversity is expected to become one of the first organisations to partner with council on the strategy, with a memorandum of understanding to be signed in coming days.
The Smart Regional Centre Strategy includes;
- Smart billboards across the region's entrances will showcase local attractions and highlight events throughout the year.
- Council will consider creating a multi-language mobile application to promote the region internationally. The region would also be promoted at major Australian and some international airports.
- Working with the Queensland Government, council will investigate an "intelligent traffic management system" which could alleviate traffic congestion through traffic light sequencing.
- Council will research a cost-benefit study for the development of a smart city parking map, which could display real-time information about available car parks. The analysis will determine if the expected costs of that project would outweigh the cost of providing additional parking or discounting paid options.
- In the CBD, council plans to install 100 iBeacons. Low emission Bluetooth technology allows iBeacons to locate mobile devices. Businesses in the area can utilise the technology, using mobile applications to send discount vouchers. A map of the iBeacon locations will allow businesses and organisations to develop their own applications for the technology.