Three groups have collaborated to bring Wi-Fi to Towrang village.
Representatives from The Goulburn Group (TGG), Towrang Park Committee and Towrang Rural Fire Service were on hand on Saturday for the installation.
Building on the success of Goulburn Free Wi-Fi in the city, TGG wanted to test the viability of connecting a regional village. The village was chosen as the first test site when critical elements fell into place thanks to the data feed from the Towrang RFS.
The concept of Goulburn free Wi-Fi was developed by TGG in 2011 and ongoing implementation in the CBD has been made possible by funding from the council.
“To connect free Wi-Fi in Towrang village was a logical next step,” said TGG President Mhairi Fraser, who was onsite to oversee the installation.
Local resident and TGG member Mark Collins has long advocated for Towrang to be a test site and was keen to stress the benefits for all regional villages during the installation.
“Having a free Wi-Fi hot spot in the villages is attractive for visitors and locals. It is great for our young people and critical if we are serious about a smart city agenda.”
Ms Fraser said it offered the opportunity to enhance social capital and livability across the region.
“People wherever they are need to check their emails, search the internet and stay in touch with work and family. Free wifi supports the concept of an intelligent community, connecting people living, working and visiting the region,” she said.
Free Wi Fi is available throughout the world even in the most out of the way locations. It empowers communities to do more with the data available, not necessarily increase more data. In Towrang village it creates opportunities to promote local tourism values as well as providing an emergency backup for the RFS during flood and fire events.
“The RFS is a strong supporter of local communities,” Mr Collins said.
“They are already pushing weather data out through their Davis Weather Station to the internet, and their willingness to provide internet feed to Goulburn Free Wi-Fi demonstrates a further commitment to the local community,” Mr Collins said.
Goulburn Free Wifi is designed to support quick searches, checking emails and small downloads. Time access is limited to one hour and is monitored to ensure that the data use is kept within limits. It will not impact on private internet arrangements of local residents.
Ms Fraser said she was proud of what the project had achieved.
“Goulburn Free Wi-fi is run by TGG volunteers and support from local businesses,” she said.
“We’ve stretched the technology with solar powered free Wi-fi at Goulburn Wetlands and now an installation in Towrang village. Council’s Smart Cities Action Plan will no doubt include the expansion of free Wi Fi. With funding to TGG coming to an end it may be time for the council to play a bigger role in expanding the project within the city and to other regional villages.”