Free wi-fi for a smarter city

Saturday, 2nd September, 2017

By Daniel Stringer

Free wi-fi will soon be available in the city as council looks to build a smarter community. 

City Council announced yesterday that their plans to install free wi-fi was progressing, with Telstra recently putting in the required hardware. 

The wi-fi will be available at the airport, in Argent and Patton streets and in Patton Park. 

The installation is set to cost $100,000 and is being funded through council’s innovation reserve. The project is the first step in council’s Smart Communities initiative, which aims to make Broken Hill a better place to live, work and play through investment in smart technology. 

Council’s General Manager, James Roncon, said that installing the wi-fi was just the start of council’s push to bring Broken Hill into the age of smart technology. 

“There is a huge focus right across Australia on making smart technology available for both locals and visitors, be it through wi-fi, energy-efficient lighting, CCTV for security, or a host of other measures,” Mr Roncon said. 

“The free wi-fi rollout is an initiative we’re proud of and it will be a very convenient service for locals and tourists alike,” he said. 

“But we also have a full suite of other smart technology we’d like to introduce in the coming years, and we’ll pursue all available funding streams to deliver them to the community.” 

Council has applied for $210,000 in funding from the Federal Government’s $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, which its plans on putting towards the installation of 90 smart poles in Patton and Sturt Park. 

Mr Roncon said that despite the heavy competition for the funding, he believed council had presented a strong case. 

“The reality is we’re up against 170 other projects and the government has already said that the response has exceeded their expectations.

“But we were very proactive and completed our Smart Communities Framework early in the year to ensure we’d be ready to put a strong case forward as soon as this funding opened.

“I think the Framework shows we have an innovative, cohesive, and informed plan to improve our city through smart technology.

“We all know Broken Hill has its own unique challenges and I believe our community deserves the best possible technology to make our city more liveable and attractive.”

The successful projects are expected to be announced in October and council said if its proposal is approved they will match the funding dollar for dollar. The free wi-fi is now in the testing phase and is expected to be made available later this month.