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.

Tom Worthington

Tom Worthington

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.

A Good Place to Live

University of WA Albany Center

In 2000 I undertook an a IT Industry Attraction Project/a> for the Great Southern Region of Western Australia. After weeks of work and two visits I concluded that the region had no special advantages for ICT businesses. However, what it did have was a pleasant place to live, with good infrastructure. Tasmania is in a similar situation.

ACS as a Renewable Resource

ADSL Modem

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

Neo 1973 Open Source Phone

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.

Selling Warships on The Web

Tenix-Navantia Landing Helicopter Dock Ship Cross Section Diagram

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?

TempoHousing two bedroom two container home

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

CNC Router at  	
Architecture Workshop, Inveresk Campus, University of Tasmania

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.

More Information

Slides for these notes are also available.

Copyright © 2007 Tom Worthington

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