Posted Monday 22 November, 04:08pm

Residents, visitors and local businesses in Ararat and Lake Bolac will soon see workers installing a world-class free public WiFi network that will improve connectivity and drive innovation.
The Hon Jaala Pulford MP, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, and Steve Tinker, Regional General Manager of Telstra, joined Ararat Mayor, Cr Jo Armstrong and CEO Dr Tim Harrison last Friday in Ararat for the announcement.
The Victorian Government’s $1.56 million investment will see Ararat Rural City Council and Telstra design and deliver an advanced public WiFi network that will activate ‘smart city’ and ‘internet of things’ (IoT) capability.
Connecting key economic, tourism, recreation and cultural places, including Ararat’s retail precinct, the Visitor Information Centre, the Ararat Active Corridor and the Lake Bolac foreshore, the fibre and cellular WiFi connectivity brings council to the forefront of new digital innovation.
“The substantial investment by the Government and our partnership with Telstra, has enabled us to design one of the most advanced public WiFi networks in the world, here in Ararat,” Dr Harrison said.
“We like being leaders in Ararat. We are going to be the mouse that roared – that small community that bats well above its average.
“It’s because of our ability to get things done, that we will be working in partnership with Telstra and Cisco to deliver what I understand is the first public trial of OpenRoaming technology in Australia.
“This means users will be able to seamlessly roam across cellular and WiFi networks, providing fast, secure and dedicated free public WiFi that will benefit businesses, residents and visitors.
“Telstra’s trial of OpenRoaming and IoT technologies puts us at the forefront of ‘smart cities’ services, further amplifying the new network to deliver community benefit.
“This includes track and monitor units to protect council assets; digital screens to onboard visitors, connecting them with dining, retail, accommodation and events; and sensors to monitor everything from car parking, drains and flooding to capturing detailed data on peak periods of visitation.
“The IoT partnership gives us the opportunity as a small rural community to invest in a whole range of things that we never thought possible.”
Ararat Rural City Mayor, Cr Jo Armstrong said this project marks an important milestone in the transformation of our municipality.
“Council has set ambitious plans that focus on delivering value for money for ratepayers and creating new opportunities for Ararat,” Cr Armstrong said.
“The Ararat Jobs and Technology Precinct partnership with Federation University Australia and the Grampians Gas Bioenergy Project are great examples of how we are combining our local initiative with new ideas to increase agricultural output and retain profits here.
“High-speed public WiFi takes us to the next level, transforming the way people connect. From showcasing the latest technology for businesses, through to engaging tourists and making it easier for people to access the information they need.
“This underpins Council’s plans to be Australia’s rural innovation capital, making Ararat an even better place to live, work, invest and visit.”