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Southern Grampians Shire Council - Leaders in Digital Innovation

23 June 2017

Council has been officially recognised as a leader in digital innovation for regional Australia at the national awards for Local Government in Canberra this week.

The National Awards for Local Government is an annual celebration of Australian local government achievements. Through the awards, the Australian Government celebrates local government projects that demonstrate leading practice, deliver better outcomes for communities, have the potential to be rolled out across the country and which make a meaningful difference to their regions.

Southern Grampians Shire Council won the Digital Innovation award for its ‘Digital Transformation of a Rural Community’ project which aims to ensure that the community takes advantage of the opportunities that digital transformation provides.
Council’s Manager Business Systems, Russell Bennett was in Canberra to collect the award and said it was pleasing to be recognised for the work being undertaken to try and establish Southern Grampians as Victoria’s first Smart Connected Rural Community.

“We partnered with Glenelg Shire Council in 2015 to build a Digital Strategy for both shires, which was funded by the Victorian Government. Based on the recommendations of the strategy, we began working with Telstra to deliver a tailored Smart-Cities framework and strategic roadmap,” Mr Bennett said.
“Digital transformation of our community will open up so many new opportunities. We are looking for digital transformation to retain population, to attract ‘tree-changers’, spark innovation in our industries, attract new industries and encourage tourism to our region.

“We have a lot of work to do to build the capacity of the community and ensure infrastructure is in place to take advantage of the possibilities,” Mr Bennett said.

Initial pilots and projects completed or underway include:
• The building of the Greater Hamilton community IoT (Internet of Things) network, which will allow anyone within range of the gateways to connect their own LoRaWan (Long-Range Wide Area Network) compatible sensor devices and access the data captured at no cost. The initial pilot includes gateways in Hamilton, Coleraine, Dunkeld and Penshurst allowing council and the community to trial sensor technology to drive innovation;
• A land capability interactive map showing a number of commodities and visually displaying their suitability to be grown in our region from now to 2050, combining data like soil type, topography and predicted climate variations. This interactive map provides valuable information to existing and prospective produce growers;
• 50 datasets published via Open Data, fourth behind Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat Councils in the number of datasets released by Victorian Councils, setting the foundation for entrepreneurs to easily gain access and use Council data in innovative ways; and
• Educational and Professional development partnerships with the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, working to establish an opportunity for the youth in the region to pursue further education in game development, 3D animation and visual effects within the Shire.

Council has commenced ‘Phase 0’ of the Smart Connected Rural Community project roadmap and has laid the foundation for applying for state and federal funding for further phases. Additionally, a commitment has been made to fund phases 0 and 1 of the project in the proposed 2017-18 Council budget.

“We had a lot of buy-in from the community in the development of the Digital Strategy and we will be relying heavily on strong engagement from our community throughout each phase of the project. This will ensure we take the transformation journey together and fully embrace the possibilities digital transformation has to offer,” Mr Bennett concluded.

A copy of the Smart Connected Rural Community project roadmap is available here


Media Contact: Alison Quade | 0429 601 208 |

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