November 26, 2020

Rural connectivity workshop

Rural connectivity workshop
Image Credit:
Supplied

Whanganui & Partners is bringing a rural connectivity advocate and industry watchdog to Whanganui to facilitate a LARFS@4 workshop to present on the good, the bad and the ugly of the rural household’s experience.

Craig Young, CEO of TUANZ  (Technology Users Association of New Zealand) says rural communities suffer under significant constraints and digital gaps are increasing, particularly as more seek access from home.

Young will facilitate a workshop and gather information to build understanding on where investment and outcomes would benefit greatly.

“Future proofed investment, ongoing maintenance and fast-paced infrastructure upgrades are needed for people in rural areas to catch up to the vast changes in technology,” he said.

Whanganui & Partners’ Strategic Lead – Agribusiness, Colleen Sheldon, recently carried out a survey in the district, showing that although 77% of rural people have internet, a vast majority have intermittent and inadequate speeds to conduct business or online meetings.

Rural businesses and families are at a disadvantage to urban dwellers who can connect immediately to the latest information through fast internet and good mobile coverage, she says.

“A lot of farmers are running their businesses on 20th century technology, yet we are asking them to be the solution for 21st century issues, with very little digital infrastructure support,” Sheldon said.

Despite the limitations, Sheldon says the rural sector is aware of the need to adapt to new technology. Increasing equality in digital access for rural people is a critical step in developing the sector’s potential.

“Our survey revealed many rural folk do not evolve in their knowledge of technology as the limited digital access is a barrier to progress, yet more than half the respondents saw software, traceability and technology as a large part of the future for their business activity and land use decision-making,” Sheldon said.

The workshop is free to attend and will be held on Thursday, 3 December from 4pm to 6pm at Stellar Restaurant and Bar. For further details, register at whanganuiandpartners.nz/larfs

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