From where I sit, a digital entrepreneur aching for the future to unfold, the Australian digital technology bottleneck is tightening.
I’m searching constantly for press releases, blogs, videos on what is coming in civic tech for our regions. I’m hungrily reading about the US, London & Barcelona, about technology for people, true smart city developments with smarter data collection, a focus on the Internet of Things, and the sharing of said data for the advancement of society.
2015 was the year of exploration for civic tech, with 2016 being hailed the year of investment. Big investment!
An estimated $285 million was raised in capital for U.S. civic tech companies in 2015 (according to Omidyar Network’s internal analysis using PitchBook.) And this with only 23 identified Civic Tech companies!
But in Australia, the dialogue seems focused on simply getting basic internet established. Forget 5G and collecting real time data on citizen habits! Forget technology to allow locally delivered medical solutions! We’re just struggling to send an email.
However I believe this will all change quickly. The activation of change will stem from the vision of a few.
My vision is to see technology connect regional Auatralia to save small towns. Instead of being left behind, and their voices removed, regional Australia should lead the nation. As our voices are silenced in the face of regional media decline, it’s time to adapt to new platforms. People are consuming their news live through Facebook & a dedicated digital news service is required.
Small business are expected to be found online, actively telling their heartfelt local story. Granular Facebook boosting favours small towns, who only have to pay to reach their town, a surprising bonus not afforded big city counterparts, who have to fund a whole city campaign.
The potential is there for small business to really impact their customers and create a following, both in their region & beyond. IF that video loads! IF they can even do their tax online!
The creativity and inventiveness of our members, once they are given the tools to blog & use social media, has been limitless! And support has quickly followed. Simply providing the access to communication channels opens the door to opportunity.
Now is the time to develop the next stage of digital technology, in readiness for the coming boom. As small towns come online, potential to really connect & engage people can bear fruit for community resilience. The resulting economic impact would be felt nationally.