2024 ‘Regional Growth’ Category Winner

City of Launceston, TAS

Connecting Communities - Launceston's Public Wi-Fi Network

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2024 ‘Regional Growth’ Category Winner

The Initiative

The City of Launceston Public Wi–Fi initiative started as a service supporting tourism, as many similar initiatives do. However, over the last decade it has expanded to cover some of the most disadvantaged suburbs in the country, providing them with vital services and helping to bridge the digital divide.

The initiative began a decade ago as a small–scale, low–budget trial in the central city area, with a focus on activating community spaces and supporting tourism.

In 2018 the project received a significant boost with grant funding secured via The City Heart Project, a Launceston City Deal Commitment. The City Heart Project allowed for network coverage to be extended across the whole CBD including paths that visitors may take to the CBD. The network was made more robust, applying project learnings and community feedback.

In 2020 the network was further extended with support from the My Place My Future program, also a Launceston City Deal Commitment. The My Place My Future program has a goal of improving the liveability of the seven northern suburbs in Launceston through infrastructure, public spaces, transport and supporting improved lifestyle, social and economic outcomes for the community.

Launceston’s northern suburbs include some of the most disadvantage areas in Australia, with low rates of connectivity, high unemployment and other challenges†.

A hallmark of the initiative is the continuous engagement with the community, and the My Place My Future expansion enabled 10 new hotspots to be deployed in areas the community deemed there was the most need. Throughout the deployments, the ongoing partnership between the community and the council led to extensive promotion, feedback, and shared learnings.

A recent survey found that the top four purposes for using Public Wi–Fi include searching for employment, accessing government services (e.g., MyGov), connecting with family, and engaging in education or training. These activities rank higher than streaming services, online shopping, and general web browsing. The Public Wi–Fi network has grown to include in excess of 50 wireless access points, averaging over 1,500 unique devices connecting each day.

†Three Launceston suburbs have Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) disadvantage scores in the lowest 2% in the entire country.

About the Category

The ‘Regional Growth’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • improve the liveability of a region and take advantage of region-specific opportunities;
  • empower vibrant and connected regional communities by promoting diversity and inclusion; and/or
  • strengthen investment and development opportunities, share resources, build local capability, and create jobs.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • improving productivity, employment and workforce skills throughout the regions;
  • valuing, protecting and promoting diversity, in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, cultures and traditions; and/or
  • fostering the development of self-reliant communities and regions with strong economic futures.

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