Adapting rural Australia to the internet of things

The concept of home and business automation across wireless networks doesn’t feel like it should be an outlandish concept. Often a mainstay in sci-fi works spanning the past several decades, even Disney produced a small-scale look at the concept of automation in Smart House, a made-for-TV movie that debuted back in 1999.

Yet for many living outside of the largest hubs of civilisation, jumping into the Internet of Things simply isn’t an option. Rural communities across the world have struggled to keep up with the quickly-advancing level of communication required to take part in a world where online connectivity dominates most aspects of our society. As the focus on smart cities and always-online connectivity grows, rural Australia is trying its best to keep up.

The old standard of rural connectivity

Australian homeowners aren’t the only ones used to fighting to stay connected to the internet, as evidenced by farmers fighting for connectivity to bring their businesses into the 21st century as smoothly as possible.

While the concept of one of the oldest and most labour-intensive industries struggling to adapt to technological advances may seem like par for the course, the issue didn’t seem to be the fault of the farmers. If anything, the lack of available infrastructure had failed them.

Australians took notice and have continued to work towards adapting to meet the standards necessary to join the IoT thanks to industry experts working to spread awareness and present the ups and downs of adaptation to those who stand to benefit from it the most.

Experts even cited the benefits of connectivity in relation to tracking herds of animals and monitoring farming progress remotely as some of the most basic improvements to the quality of life for those running agricultural businesses.

The IoT Alliance Australia has predicted a potential boost to the Australian economy to the tune of $116 billion by 2025 owed in no small part to the adaptation and implementation of IoT technologies. This would stand in stark contrast to Australia’s occasional lack of turning local innovation into solutions to wider-reaching problems.

Catching up with the times

Implementation has been slow, but that’s not to say Australian connectivity will always be stuck in the standards of the past. With services like the National Broadband Network working to update last generation standards of internet delivery to a level that opens up more homes and businesses to IoT-friendly standards, the future is slowly starting to brighten. If anything, NBN plans have given a shot in the arm to complacency with existing networks.

These improvements come at a time when the world of sensors and processors working together to provide us with critical information that is difficult to measure traditionally may reach a scale where working off of old networks simply won’t be feasible.

The IoT continues to grow and something as simple as a network of sensors can scale beyond a scope most people might imagine, necessitating a serious look at what the future of networking holds and how standards should be evaluated with future-proofing in mind.

Are we looking at a potential future where bridges with embedded sensors are capable of warning us when water levels are too high or that wind conditions could lead to uncomfortable drives? It’s entirely possible, as projections for the year 2025 show zettabytes of data generated primarily by consumer devices, including those in vehicles and phones.

Finding ways to help rural Australians reach a level where their businesses can report vital sensor data across reliable and trustworthy networks isn’t an overnight process.

Pushing the importance of connectivity and the potential benefits to consumers both private and public helps to reinforce the importance of foresight and adapting to changing standards as they arrive rather than struggling to adapt years after those standards have fallen to the wayside. With a touch more encouragement, that future could very well become Australia’s present.

Andrew Jems
Andrew Jems
Worked in the technology field for 12 years as an employee of a digital innovation technology company in Melbourne. Now, I'm a small business owner developing business apps.
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