- Report launch on Thursday 7 April will reveal Charles Sturt University research findings about regional and rural consumer understandings of ‘smart technology’ in north-west NSW
The findings of Charles Sturt University research about what regional and rural consumers in north-west NSW understand about ‘smart technology’ will be made public on Thursday 7 April.
The report launch presentation will take place at the Charles Sturt campus in Dubbo and will also be live-streamed.
The research conducted in 2021 included more than 130 participants, and the report focuses on Dubbo, Narromine, Wellington, Peak Hill, and Gilgandra, and includes Local Aboriginal Land Councils.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) funded the research project and the report ‘It Just Works!’: Regional and Rural Consumer Understanding of Smart Technologies in North-West New South Wales.
Its author is Senior Lecturer Dr Holly Randell-Moon (pictured, inset) in the Charles Sturt School of Indigenous Australian Studies in Dubbo who researches community engagement with digital infrastructure and what this infrastructure means for First Nations regional development.
“This report is one of the few public awareness benchmarks of regional and rural consumer understandings of ‘smart technology’,” Dr Randell-Moon said.
“It examines a consumer segment not typically included in existing literature and policy on ‘smart cities’ and ‘smart planning’.
“The report contains local information on smart technology awareness, and, for example, it looks at the differences between Dubbo and Wellington and doesn’t assume that what works for Dubbo is the same in all places.”
Dr Randell-Moon explained a key aim of the project is to develop a regional definition of smart technologies and applications.
“Based on the project data, this definition is ‘practical confidence’,” she said. “Regional and rural consumers want technologies that ‘just work’ and ‘do their job’, with practical applications for regions and rural areas.”
She highlighted some key findings from the report, noting that while there was high awareness of smart tech there was relatively little use of it and thus there is a need for more opportunities for community to use smart tech.
“The research also found there is a polarisation in perceptions of telecommunications quality, by which participants either saw quality as ‘pretty good actually’ or ‘ordinary’,” she said.
“I note that quality telecommunications is essential for smart tech to work well.”
The research found some confusion regarding consumer rights in relation to remote data monitoring.
“As I note in the report, consumer rights regarding smart technologies and applications overlap in several different areas ─ health, information privacy, data collection,” she said.
“Part of the complexity here is not just the number of organisations and instrumentalities involved ─ and therefore no single entity accepting responsibility ─ but also the multiple levels of governments involved which makes coordination difficult.
“Essentially, the current framework for smart technologies and applications is not fit for purpose, with the responsibility falling to consumers to learn about, and enact, their rights.”
Dr Randell-Moon said First Nations people are important stakeholders in telecommunications and smart regional development, and she argues there is a need to recognise the opportunities for engagement with First Nations communities and Local Aboriginal Land Councils as stakeholders in smart planning.
“First Nations are adept at managing communication including the transmission of information across large distances over thousands of years,” she said.
“Including Local Aboriginal Land Councils as stakeholders in these developments has implications for managing the digital processes associated with information and infrastructure moving across different Countries.”
The report will be launched at Charles Sturt University in Dubbo at 3pm to 4.30pm on Thursday 7 April by Ms Fiona Nash.
Please register to attend the report launch in-person at Charles Sturt in Dubbo.