While city dwellers may take having ubiquitous mobile phone coverage for granted, for farmers on the land it’s often a very different situation. Having zero bars of signal strength means simple tasks like making a phone call or checking email are impossible.
Determined to overcome this challenge, Wagga-based entrepreneur Dan Winson has developed a wireless networking system which boasts city-like data speeds for users in remote locations.
Wilson said his aim is for the service to help farmers both in Australia and worldwide.
“We use traditional Wi-Fi technology to create a farm-wide wireless network,” he said. “A user can make and receive calls on their mobile phone and access the internet as they would when connected to a conventional mobile network.”
Winson’ noted that his company, Zetifi, has already completed 40 trials of the tech which features a gateway device to link to a nearby 3G or 4G mobile tower and repeaters extending access farm-wide through a Wi-Fi network.
The company also offers a repeater unit designed to be installed in a vehicle that delivers network coverage within a 200-metre range. “Wi-Fi is a stable technology that has been in use for more than 20 years,” added. Winson. “We have packaged together off-the-shelf and customised components to create a farm-wide network that can be easily deployed in remote locations.”
Winson and his team have focused their efforts on making the equipment as power efficient as possible with many of the network devices being solar powered, which means they can be deployed just about anywhere.
“You certainly don’t need to be an electrician or a data engineer to get a network up and running,” he said. “In many cases, farmers will be able to deploy their new network themselves and be operational very quickly. Because a Zetifi network can deliver 3G or 4G-like speeds across the entire coverage area, users can stream video and downloading large files in places they previously could not have even made a mobile phone call.”
Key benefits of the Zetifi offering include:
Dramatically improved mobile phone and internet coverage.
The ability to make use of Wi-Fi connected video cameras to improve security around the farm.
The ability to ramp up productivity by making it possible to install precision guidance technology on tractors and other farm machinery. “
The Zetifi team is continuing to develop its technology and has applied for both Australian and international patents. It is also developing relationships with a range of channel partners to distribute equipment more widely. The company expects to undertake a retail launch of its offerings next year.
Last year Zetifi, then known as Agrinet, became a member of the SparkLabs Cultiv8 agriculture technology accelerator. Cultiv8 works with entrepreneurs to foster new AgTech ideas and grow them into successful businesses.
The SparkLabs Cultiv8 program, which accepts a new cohort of businesses each year, offers a combination of mentoring support, legal advice and access to a network of agricultural research stations at which new technologies can be trialled.
“The support and advice we received from Cultiv8 has been invaluable,” Winson said. “The business mentors have valuable knowledge expertise in building a high-growth company from the start-up phase. They have really helped us to prioritise both our time and our funds.”
Cisco has struck a partnership with La Trobe University to drive technology innovation, and equip students with the industry-ready and digital skills required in the knowledge economy with a focus on IoT.
In addition the agreement, which will feature a new position of a Cisco Chair of the Internet of Things, will also showcase what is possible in research and learning through a range of education initiatives.
The partnership will also include a Co-Innovation Centre presence at the University, bringing together researchers and industry to facilitate collaboration and create opportunities to solve real world problems, through technology innovation.
Under the agreement, La Trobe University will be able to access Cisco’s best in class global programs such as its Networking Academy modules with IoT, cybersecurity and entrepreneurship, as well as its Digital Schools Network enabling local educators and students to digitally connect with their peers locally and globally.
The partnership builds on Cisco’s ongoing focus on innovation and research in Australia and expands the company’s Co-Innovation Centre footprint. There is currently an Innovation Central in Sydney, and in Perth.
“By teaming with La Trobe University we’re supporting the development of industry ready skills that are required, today,” said Cisco ANZ VP Ken Boal.
“The Internet of Things presents new research and innovation opportunities and will transform industries right across the globe. The Chair of IoT combined with the world class co-innovation capability, further our collaborative approach to innovative teaching and learning and open up the door for world leading research.”
DIGITAL HEALTH MONITOR
The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has called on its members and counterpart associations throughout Asia to consider contributing seed funding to establish a new centre to commercialise digital health and devices into Indo-Asia.
“The vision for the Centre is to foster global partnerships, remove barriers to market entry and facilitate faster deployment of digital health solutions to clinicians, patients and carers in the WA health system as well as the burgeoning Indo-Asia market,” said AIIA CEO Ron Gauci.
The proposed Indo-Asia Digital Health Centre for Innovation and Commercialisation (IDHC) which will be based in Western Australia, will seek to help researchers and innovators in that state navigate into a 4-5 billion population market.
The AIIA said the Sustainable Health Review released by the Minister for Health, Roger Cook, in April highlighted the need for investments in digital health care and the need to nurture a more vibrant innovation, research and translation culture in WA.
The Indo-Asia DHC will be an incorporated not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, will hold charity status, be an attractive tax-deductible gift recipient and be ARC registered. It will collaborate with public and private health providers, universities, research organisations and medical technology companies to develop and commercialise digital health technologies.
According to the AIIA, it will attract industry grants, funding and venture capital to fund Proofs of Concepts to solve critical health challenges for both the WA and Indo-Asia markets. “Investors are being sought for early incubator funding as well as late stage Series A and B investors to improve the success of innovators and have access to royalty free licences and equity returns on IP,” it added.
“We have members who are proven to be the most innovative in the world, yet face real headwinds in collaboration, and require specialist advice on innovation, product development and commercialisation.
They will benefit greatly from access to venture capital to export internationally and create jobs locally in WA. They also need timely help from the Department of Health to validate pilots, proofs of concepts and facilitate innovation in this State. If we can’t convert investment into ideas and ideas into commercialisation, we cannot create jobs,” Gauci said.
“As a national industry body, we represent a $3.2 billion export industry made up of both the major multinationals as well as a significant base of small to medium sized enterprises of which Western Australian organisations are well represented,” he added.
The Indo-Asia DHC will aim to:
- Bring together leading WA medical researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to build on the output of the many early stage innovation hubs and incubators to promote investment and scale commercially ready innovations.
- Focus on the export of WA digital health innovations to create trade with Asia and WA job creation opportunities in a $400 billion market which is growing at 21% p.a. Venture capitalists contributed $2.4 billion in January 2019 alone in North America into this sector, yet in WA there is a lack of scale and networks into Asia.
- Collaborate with a consortium of leading organisations with health and international research capabilities such as CSIRO, University of Western Australia, University of Notre Dame, Murdoch University, Curtin University, St John of God Health Care, Telethon Kids Institute, a private health insurer and others.
- The Centre will link leading research capability around Proofs of Concepts to tackle the major digital health challenges in the region and offer returns to investors in validated solutions, as well as preferential placement in subsequent Series A and B investments.
- Work closely with public and private health providers, hospital-based Innovation Hubs, the WA Health Translation Network, independent medical technologists, researchers, innovators, institutions, government, philanthropists and venture capitalists to create a collaboration environment and commercialisation network.
- Focus on the biggest challenges and largest market demand around:
Precision/personalised medicine, Bio sensing and wearables, Lifestyle and patient apps, Telemedicine, Predictive analytics & AI, Digital Health Clinics, Digital Health for Mental, Digital Health for Ageing/ Dementia; and Digital Pharmacy.
In addition, the Centre will create academic pathways to develop digital health education and training in WA collaborating with universities and academic institutions to ensure that digital health research informs and aligns with training, workforce and patient care, in order to create a sustainable, evidence-based, high quality health system of the future.
Sydney-based critical network specialist Vertel has appointed Tony Hudson as its commercial director with a brief to lead the firm’s sales, marketing and customer experience teams.
A member of the Metro Ethernet Forum, Vertel specialises in the design, build and operation of wireless networks for corporations, government and service providers.
Vertel said Hudson – who has some three decades experience in the information technology and telecommunication sectors – joined its ranks in 2016 as Head of Government.
Prior to Vertel, he worked at Singtel Optus for 15 years, with eight years in the role of industry manager, NSW government. In addition, Hudson has also held positions with IBM and WordFlow Information Liquidity, an Australian start-up, as director of sales.
Theo Belekas, Managing Director, said, “Tony brings a unique combination of industry experience, a strong focus on customer success and an understanding of Vertel’s vision of smarter, healthier, and safer Australian communities. Tony will help Vertel continue to service organisations that place significant value on highly-available, reliable and secure network connections, and Quality of Service-enabled managed networks and services, backed by strong networking expertise and support. “
Thaicom-owned rural and regional satellite internet service provider IPSTAR Broadband has launched a new unmetered and non-speed-restricted broadband option dubbed Sky Muster Plus, providing data for essential services such as emails, general browsing, social media and PC and smartphone software updates.
NBN Co, which announced the new wholesale offer at the same time, said a Sky Muster Plus trial, which ran from 7 June until 8 August 2019, revealed four out of five existing Sky Muster customers reported an improvement in their online experience, “with many reporting the unmetered data was particularly helpful when it came to managing their overall data usage.”
NBN Co said three wholesale plans with different metered data allowances will be available to participating retail service providers based on a wholesale speed tier of 25/5 Mbps, adding “customers will from time-to-time experience wholesale speed bursts above 25/5Mbps, subject to available network capacity.”
IPSTAR Broadband Managing Director Shannon Fisher said the company was committed to ensuring rural and regional Australians were better able to stay connected, educate their families and grow their businesses.
“Customers have told us their monthly data allowance is sometimes used up by their children, grandchildren or even them streaming videos and gaming, leaving them unable to complete tasks crucial to running a business, like sending and receiving emails to and from customers and suppliers,” Fisher said.
“Sky Muster™ Plus will remove the monthly download cap for essential services, allowing rural regional businesses – many of which operate from home – to rest easy knowing their operations won’t be disrupted by too many streamed episodes of Stranger Things or battles on Fortnite.”
While its Sky Muster™ Plus package maintains on the top plan a monthly cap of up to 150 GB peak and 150GB off peak for streaming , the firm said there will be no data limit for regular web activities like accessing emails or internet banking.
According to IPSTA, community advocacy group Better Internet for Regional Rural and Remote Australia has been instrumental in helping the Federal Government and NBN Co to develop Sky Muster Plus.
Co-Founder Kristy Sparrow said the new service will make a significant difference to users who have been faced with limited data allowances, especially the 42 per cent of Sky Muster users who have no other internet option.
“We appreciate that NBN Co and the Minister for Regional Services have listened to regional advocacy groups and understood that data allowances on Sky Muster have restricted essential services for regional users and we thank them for listening to our concerns” she said.
AustCyber, an independent not-for-profit cyber security growth network, has laid bare urgent vulnerabilities within the Australian economy due to politicians, bureaucrats, as well as industry and academia not taking a whole-of-economy approach to cyber-security and cyber resilience.
Speaking at a media round table on cyber security in Sydney, AustCyber CEO Michelle Price highlighted serious weaknesses around how to ensure the Australian economy is cyber-resilient, and “also then making sure that we can be globally competitive in what is a shrinking world.”
“[We] are not taking a holistic picture – in my view – of what all the inter-dependencies and intersections [in] all of this landscape.” Price warned, raising the question of significant impacts to the economic competitiveness.
“How much are we losing from the innovation side of things, and commercialisation opportunities, by having unknown and untold, unintended consequences, that are coming from what is a train smash of a legislative landscape?” she asked.
“We need to take a pause and understand the legislative, regulatory, standards and guidance environment that we have created for cyber-security, but also for the rest of the economy, knowing that cyber-security is the true horizontal; and recognise that, yes, we have made a few mistakes,” Price added, while acknowledging there had also been some notable wins.
“But let’s evolve it because we actually can’t continue the way it is now,” she urged, however. “Right now what we are facing is a whole series of legislation, regulation, standards, and guidance, that is causing extreme confusion across the economy. “
“It does touch every single part of the economy and we’re not conceiving of legislation, regulation, standards and guidance with that in mind,” she added, emphasising that the way in which cyber-security actually plays out across the economy varies “from one moment to the next, from one incident to the next, [and] from one sub-sector and sector to the next, [from] one organisation at the low end of the scale to the high end.”
Price argued the pressing need to a strategic approach along with an understanding the job of the economy is to provide benefit to Australians. “Not to other countries, not to service free trade agreements. not to service alliances; but to actually service the Australian community,” she said.
“I’m not sure that we have that front of mind any more when we look at the confluence of all of this landscape, notwithstanding the fact that it doesn’t take account of whether or not we have a business that is a sole trader, right through to the largest employer of the country, which happens to be the Department of Defence, and everyone in between.”
“So we have an environment here that is highly complex, but we’ve created it,” Price said. “It’s all of us.”
Ultimately, the AustCyber chief executive said ‘”we’re in the game now, more than anything else, [of] one that does not have a perimeter. We’re also in a game where we have complex and dynamic supply and value chains in play. And this is all in the environment where we have people who don’t know how to trust each other anymore.”
Price said underpinning this shifting economic narrative was the ability, or otherwise, of stakeholders to choose to trust, adding “but do we actually know what the definition of trust is anymore?”