Locating Tasmania in the Global Information Economy
Tom Worthington FACS HLM
Director of Professional Development, Australian Computer Society
For the ACS Tasmanian Branch
Hobart, Tasmania, 5.30 pm,12 September 2007
Tom Worthington will discuss the role of ACS in the ICT community and where it should go next. He argues that Tasmania needs to give up on the idea that it can find unique features which would give it a competitive advantage for industry. The primary raw material for 21st century industries is well educated, well connected information professionals, as fostered by the ACS. Tom will look at how far we have come and what we still have to do. It should lead to some interesting discussion as to how we, as a Branch, tackle the issues of the role of ICT in Tasmania's future.
- ACS Director of Professional Development
- IT consultant and Visiting Fellow at the ANU
- Member ACS Telecommunications Board
- ABS ICT Reference Group
- Presented on Internet regulation to Senate
- Recommended Tasmanian Premier sell salmon online
- Helped Incat selling ships to the US military at the Sydney Olympics.
Tom Worthington is Director of Professional Development for the Australian Computer Society. He is past Director and a member of the ACS Telecommunications Board and ACS's representative on the Australian Bureau of Statistics ICT Reference Group. Tom presented the ACS position on Internet regulation to the Senate. He is a past president, fellow and honorary life member of the ACS. Tom is an independent IT consultant and Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University. In 1996 he recommended to the Tasmanian Premier selling salmon on the Internet and in 2000 helped Incat selling ships to the US military at the Sydney Olympics.
One Wide World of the Web
In 2005 I spent three weeks living in an Indian village. In the narrow unpaved village lanes I met people with relatives all over the world, children with a thirst for educational qualifications and a respect for engineers and IT professionals rivalling that of pop stars.
Outside a traditional performance by an Indian Navy Band in the state capital, I saw the shield of the Indian Navy Information Warfare squadron. They fly locally made aircraft of German design, fitted with advanced electronics to monitor signals from India's enemies (and friends). These aircraft have the same Israeli radar as Australia's most advanced Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
India is full of IT and engineering entrepreneurs. In the same village I saw a battery electric car made in Bangalore. The village was in range of wireless Internet and the Indian state of Goa is now cabling with fibre optics to villages.
Australia may feel remote from the world and in some ways protected from the global economy and in other ways isolated from it. However, it is part of the same world as India, China and other developing economies. We have no natural advantages, apart from some limited supplies of minerals and plants. Australia has a renewable resource of well trained people. We need to harness that resource for economic benefit , cooperating and competing with other countries.
In 2000 I undertook an a
ACS as a Renewable Resource
The Australian Computer Society (ACS) was founded in 1966 to further the study, science and application of the technology. The ACS represents the IT profession in national government and industry forums. ACS is a member of Standards Australia and can represent members views on issues such as if Microsoft's OOXML format should be an international standard. Australia in the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), and the South-East Asian Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC). If Tasmanian industry or government want to have their views on ICT to be known in Canberra, New York or Bejing, they can do so through the ACS.
The Tasmania Branch of the ACS was founded in July 1975 and Tasmanian members have been an active part of the society ever since. Companies and governments can exploit these national and international links to further development objectives. Access to the Internet and the web makes this even easier. As an example there are more than 20,000 references to ACS and Tasmania on the web. The ACS publishes conference papers and journal articles by Tasmanian researchers.
Areas for Economic Growth
In his keynote address to the Influence Forum 2007 recently, Paul Twomey, CEO of ICANN, suggested the Australian discussion of broadband needed to move from how, to the useful services, such as education and health care which could be provided by it.
- Education: The ACS provides undergraduate online education globally:
- Computer Professional Education Program: This uses Australian developed open source software to provide training to IT professionals in technical and business areas. This materials can be prepared and staff work on this and similar courses from Tasmania as well as anywhere, as long as they have the needed skills, experience and network access.
- Diploma of Information Technology: The Diploma is awarded by examination. Training providers can offer training materials suitable for those studying for the diploma, in Australian and worldwide.
- Green ICT: A study sponsored by the Australian Computer Society has shown that computers and telecommunications equipment in Australia generated 7.94Mt of carbon dioxide in 2005, 1.52% of national emissions. The ACS issued a Policy Statement for Green ICT, which includes suggestions on initiatives ICT professionals, government, consumers and ICT manufacturers can take to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions attributable to the use of ICT equipment. The ACS Green IT Group, is looking at practical steps which can be taken. There is scope for Australian business, in conjunction with researchers, to produce ICT products and service for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
- Resource mapping Tasmania happens to be the location of resource mapping projects by CSIRO and university researchers. The University of Tasmania is leading Australian work on the BlueNet national distributed marine science data network. The ICT standards applied to the scientific work are also applicable to resource mapping on land for conservation and minerals discover and even working out where the nearest pizza shop is on your car navigation system. This is an area where Tasmania could bring to together the researchers working in various labs, with business to build products and services.
- Wireless: Whoever happens to win the next federal election is likely to sponsor extensive wireless broadband networks in regional Australia. In 2002 the ACS awarded the ANCCAC Medal, to Professor Arthur Sale of University of Tasmania for his paper "Broadband Internet Access in Regional Australia". Tasmania makes a good location for working up products for regional Australia, as it is regional, but not too big. ;-)
In many ways the problems of providing ICT in regional areas of Australia are similar to those of developing nations. Australia learn from efforts such as those for Mobile Web in Developing Countries and also offer products and services for these countries.
Selling Warships on The Web
In addition to tourism and primary produce, Tasmania can market itself online as a source of high technology. Very expensive and complex goods and services can be promoted online. Tasmania is a manufacturer of complex and expensive products, such as mining equipment and high speed military ships. The customers of these products will not simple click on a web ad and order with their credit card, but they will seek detailed information on the companies invovled, their products and infrastructure of the location, as part of deciding to investigate further. The web is a very cost effective way to provide this information. Two examples are the leasing of Tasmanian transport ships by the US Military and the selection of two aircraft carriers by the Australian Navy.
Incat on the Web
During the 2000 Olympic Games, Austrade organized the "Business Club Australia" at Sydney's Darling Harbour, including functions on a Tasmanian made Incat fast ferry. Incat were demonstrating the ship to visiting US military (who later leased two). I was able to send some web links about the Incat ships to my former colleagues operating the web service aboard the flag ship of the US 7th Fleet.
Since 2000, the web has become an important selling tool for all sort of products, including complex ones, such as military warships. Web advertising can be targeted at readers with specific interests in specific locations, such as all those interested in military warships, within a 30 km radius of the Pentagon.
Selling Aircraft Carriers with Web Ads
In Aril 2007 I was contacted by the military supplier Tenix, asking if I could put a link to the two bidders for the Australian "Landing Helicopter Dock" (LHD) ships project. I had prepared a short web page about the project to build two small aircraft carriers for the RAN. This page had become very popular. I added the links and Tenix later purchased web advertisements on the site. Tenix won the $3B contract and a few dollars of web advertising may have helped.
Hi tech Affordable Buildings from Tasmania?
Dr Tony McCall, of the University of Tasmania has suggested that an "... IKEA-like proposal for the down-stream, value-adding of our distinctive wood products ..." is needed to add value to the timber products which Tasmania exports. One wood product which Ikea makes are BoKlok flatpack houses. These are assembled in much the same way as Ikea flatpack furniture, but on a larger scale for apartments and terrace houses.
Tasmania could look at applying design and manufacturing skills to high quality affordable homes and community buildings made from Tasmanian materials including timber, cement and aluminium. This could be used to implement the Tasmanian government's policy on Affordable Housing. The buildings could be prewired for broadband, as well as energy and water efficient services.
As well as homes, Tasmania could build prefabricated Flexible Learning Centers, pre-wired for broadband and designed for advanced learning techniques. These could be tested in remote communities and sold world wide via the web. The same modular technology could be offered to the Australian and US military to provide command and control centers on the Incat fast military ships and the new Australian aircraft carriers.
Tasmania could compete with Ikea and other kit building makers by using superior web based promotion and low cost delivery by fast ship.
Tasmania could also provide training courses to be delivered online in the learning centers and training for teachers on how to teach this way.
ps: Work by UTAS on High Technology Wood
- Utas Architecture school researches advanced timber technology
- Could work on computer classrooms with broadband
The above presentation was prepared for the meeting of the 2007 Annual General Meeting of the Tasmanian Branch of the ACS on 13 September 2007. At the AGM there was a discussion of how the ACS could help those in need in developing nations and in Tasmania. The members discussed the best way to provide financial and other assistance. After the meeting in Hobart I went to Launceston, to talk on Broadband. Before the talk I visited the University of Tasmania Architecture school, where Helen Norrie showed me the Computer Numerical Control router used to cut wood for architectural models and small buildings, under program control.
At this location research is carried out on advanced timber building technology. As an example, this technology could be applied to modular buildings with broadband cabling. The University itself has a need for more flexible teaching rooms which can be used for a blend of computer based and person-to-person teaching. The ACS could support work by IT students with architects and timber researchers to design buildings and systems for classrooms. This could include wooden modular flooring to allow for broadband cabling to be added to existing buildings and prefabricated buildings.
- Why Max? Demystifying Broadband options for Tasmania, For the ACS Tasmanian Branch, Burnie and Devonport, 10 September 2007; Hobart 12 September and Lanceston 13 September 2007, Tasmania
- This document is available at: http://www.tomw.net.au/technology/it/information_economy/
Slides for these notes are also available.
Copyright © 2007 Tom Worthington
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.