Regional Telecommunications Project Newsletter 3 - February 2016

State of the build

As at 20 January 2016, eight Regional Telecommunications Project mobile base stations have been completed and are now providing much needed mobile coverage to regional Western Australia. These are located at Gracetown (Shire of Augusta-Margaret River), Wongan Hills (Shire of Wongan-Ballidu), Wickepin (Shire of Wickepin), Tammin (Shire of Tammin), Westonia (Shire of Westonia), Bolgart (Shire of Victoria Plains), Albany West (City of Albany), and Nyabing (Shire of Kent). The remaining 15 mobile base stations will be commissioned by 30 June 2016.

First 8 basestations cropped
First 8 basestations cropped, by ggodsman

Mobile base stations

Eight of the first 23 priority mobile base stations are now in place.

Wickepin tower upgrade to eliminate mobile black spot

A mobile black spot has been filled in after Wickepin’s telecommunications tower was upgraded to give residents enhanced mobile phone coverage and high-speed wireless broadband.

The improved connectivity is another step forward in realising the full potential of regional businesses and communities in Wickepin.

Launched on Friday, 18 December 2015, at the Wickepin Hotel, the mobile base station will ensure local businesses have access to necessary technology.

The Shire of Wickepin’s CEO, Mark Hook says that telecommunications connectivity is vital to social and economic development in Wickepin. “It will be easier for family and friends to keep in touch, people travelling on our roads will be safer and better equipped and emergency services will have improved response times. Wickepin really needed this boost,” he says.

The tower upgrade will provide next-generation service availability and improved call quality in Wickepin, and also provide motorists on the Williams-Kondinin Road with reliable 3G coverage.

Wickepin upgrade
Wickepin upgrade, by ggodsman

Wickepin tower upgrade

LtoR: The Hon Terry Waldron MLA, Member for Wagin, Boyd Brown, Telstra, Dr Graham Jacobs MLA, Member for Eyre and the Hon Paul Brown MLC, Member for the Agricultural Region.

Gracetown now better connected than ever

Residents and businesses in Gracetown now have enhanced mobile telephone coverage and high-speed wireless broadband, with the new phone tower officially switched on as part of the State Government's $45 million Royalties for Regions Regional Telecommunications Project.

At an event at the Gracetown Community Hall on Friday, 11 December 2015, Ms Libby Mettam, Member for Vasse co-launched the 'switching on' of the new mobile base station along with the Hon Terry Redman MLA, Minister for Regional Development.

Deployed by Telstra, the new Gracetown Mobile Base Station will benefit the community through better and more reliable connectivity and improved safety in the town. The Gracetown Bush Fire Brigade says firefighters can now be contacted immediately if there is a bush fire incident reported within the community. They no longer need rely on landlines or knocks on doors in the middle of the night to deploy firefighting crews in emergencies. 

According to Peter Delfs, Fire Control Officer at the Gracetown Bush Fire Brigade, a house fire was reported in the early hours of a morning, only two weeks after the new tower was switched on. For the first time in Gracetown, the fire brigade was able to communicate with each other, in real time, and use their smartphones to coordinate the response and extinguish the fire before it took hold.

“Mobile SMS enabled us to immediately alert the crew members closest to the site of the fire to attend there as soon as possible. We could never do this in the past,” he said.

“This improved mobile connectivity also meant that an officer was able to turn back several other brigades who were also alerted and deployed.  In previous fire occurrences, multiple brigade units would arrive at one fire call-out when they could have been utilised at other urgent emergency call outs,” said Peter.

The new Gracetown mobile base station will help the brigade manage its resources and time more productively.

Libby Mettam
Libby Mettam, by ggodsman

New Gracetown tower

Ms Libby Mettam, Member for Vasse, speaking at the 'switching on' event of the new mobile base station in Gracetown.

Recommended mobile phone apps

A mobile app is a computer program designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Whether you use them to work, play or just to help you get somewhere, they all rely on mobile connectivity to function. Here are three apps that could be really useful to you, your family and work mates.

Emergency + app

You’re driving along a rural road and you suddenly come across the scene of a motor vehicle accident.  You find that there are passengers in the car that are notably injured. You need an ambulance urgently but you don’t know where you are. There are no street signs and you have no idea what road you’re on. How is the ambulance ever going to find you?

This is just one of the many scenarios where having the Emergency + (Emergency Plus) app for smartphones may truly save your or others’ lives in the event of an emergency. The Emergency + app is the official application produced by the National Triple Zero Awareness Work Group.

The app has been developed to encourage people in Australia to call the correct number for help in emergency and non-emergency situations, such as Triple Zero (000) for emergencies and 132 500 for SES flood and storm situations.

Free of charge, it uses the existing GPS functionality of smartphones to enable callers to provide emergency call-takers with their location information as determined by their smartphone. Latitude and longitude details appear on the opening screen and can be relayed to an emergency operator along with address and suburb details.

Statistics show that nationally, 66 per cent of all incoming calls to Triple Zero (000) are made from mobile phones. Many of these emergencies occur in circumstances where callers are unfamiliar with their exact location. This includes places like beaches, parklands or  long stretches of highway.

The Western Australia Police proudly supports the Emergency+ app, which is also endorsed by state and territory governments.  It encourages everyone to install Emergency+ on their phone to ensure help can be sent as soon as possible to the right location in an emergency situation.

It is worth noting that mobile coverage is not universally available outside major population centres and people should not assume they can be located accurately and quickly anywhere in Australia. If people travel into areas without mobile coverage, they should take personal safety precautions and consider using other mobile safety devices such as personal locator beacons. Visit the Emergency+ site or click on your phone's store to download the app.

Emergency + app
Emergency + app, by ggodsman

Emergency + app

Save the app that could save your life.

New tap app for growers

The Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA), with an investment through Royalties for Regions, has worked with selected growers to assess their current water use efficiency as defined by the amount of product produced per mega litre of water used.

A critical part of improving water use efficiency is correct irrigation scheduling. The Irrigate WA app was developed to help growers use water more efficiently.

It will assist with the implementation of correct irrigation scheduling for a variety of crops and soil types in Western Australia, using real time weather data from DAFWA’s network of weather stations to calculate localised evaporative demand.

Using farm specific plant spacing and irrigation system parameters, it is then possible to estimate crop water use and provide a guide to correct irrigation duration and frequency. This application should be used in conjunction with soil moisture monitoring technology, as verification and modification of the schedule provided will be necessary.

Fruit and vegetable growers, as well as pasture producers and turf providers, can use the app to water their crops at the right time with the right amount of water on any given day.

Irrigate WA features

  • Offline access to historic data
  • Recommended irrigation events displayed in schedule log 
  • Runs in the absence of mobile reception, (synchronises later via Wi-Fi).
  • Ability to create multiple production areas for each property
  • Data synchronisation with server for real time updates
  • Easy entry of property details
  • Production area features - soil type, crop variety and irrigation type
  • Standard mobile navigation
  • Ability to create multiple properties
  • Easy setup of production areas associated with a property 
  • Real time weather data from weather station 
  • Ability to record water meter readings

Download the Irrigate WA app now.

Irrigate WA
Irrigate WA, by ggodsman

Irrigate WA app

The Irrigate WA app will assist with the implementation of correct irrigation scheduling for a variety of crops and soil types in Western Australia.

Welcome Wi-Fi Coverage at Pilbara Rest Stops

Rest Stops
Rest Stops, by ggodsman

Pilbara Rest Stops

Welcome Rest Stops, Wi-Fi hotspot.

Taking a break on your driving adventure is now a lot more appealing with the completion of a network of new Welcome Rest Stops across the Pilbara region of Western Australia, thanks to the Pilbara Regional Council and Country Local Government Fund through the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program.  What is even more welcoming is that some of the rest stops along major highways in the Pilbara provide free Wi-Fi hotspots so you can catch up with friends or plan the next leg of your trip while you rest.

A number of the Wi-Fi Hotspot Rest Stops are powered by mobile base stations recently deployed under the Regional Mobile Communications Project, made possible by Royalties for Regions. The project successfully delivered 113 mobile base stations across regional and remote Western Australia, improving connectivity along major highways and in some small communities.

These striking rest stops celebrate the Indigenous cultures of their location through original artworks immortalised in the steel canopies. They cast interesting shadows by day and solar-powered lighting plays through them after dark. 

Have you road tested these facilities?

We would love to hear your story on how these Wi-Fi hotspot rest stops made your trip even more enjoyable.

Send your story to Digital.Economy@commerce.wa.gov.au

For more information, visit the Rest Stops website.

Rest Stops map
Rest Stops map, by ggodsman

Rest and Wi-Fi

Rest stops in the Pilbara Region equipped with Welcome Wi-Fi hotspots.

Industry Development
Newsletter
Last updated 18 Feb 2016

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