State boost for vital digital data service

State boost for vital digital data service

Agribusiness
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The WA government will continue to fund the service for the next 4 years.

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Grainbelt Internet of Things project manager Darren Gibbon (left) with Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan and Agricultural Region MP Darren West at DPIRD's Northam office for the funding announcement last week.

Grainbelt Internet of Things project manager Darren Gibbon (left) with Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan and Agricultural Region MP Darren West at DPIRD's Northam office for the funding announcement last week.

THE State government will continue to fund the eConnected digital data service for the next four years, committing $8.1 million to the program last week.

The investment in the eConnected Grainbelt project, which provides essential digital data to Western Australia's primary industries will include the upgrade of 187 automated weather stations around the State.

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan travelled to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) Northam office with Agricultural Region MP Darren West last Thursday to make the announcement.

Ms MacTiernan said the weather stations provided essential and accurate information to WA's farmers and agribusinesses, helping them to make informed decisions and also assisted in improving the State's emergency services responses.

"The government will be continuing to invest and improve this area because the backbone of modern farming is having access to highly reliable data upon which you can make all your complex decisions," Ms MacTiernan said.

"Much of this $8.1m is going into the application program interface which is that digital intellectual property which underpins the program.

"The weather stations are going to be upgraded to an even higher quality of data and this money also provides for all of the backroom work that has to be done to keep the platforms retained.

"The automated weather stations have become an integral resource for farmers, emergency services and the public, with more than 11,000 visits per month to the DPIRD's weather website."

The program's digital platform also provides commercial app and software developers and State departments with access to data sources to develop a range of online tools, models, programs and decision-making aids for the State's primary industries, emergency services and the public.

"It's important for our PestFax program, black spot management and our statistical seasonal forecast - so a lot of work that we are doing in the department is very dependent on this IP," Ms MacTiernan said.

In 2019 the platform processed more than 92.2 million data requests, more than double that of the previous year.

The eConnected digital data services project continues to be supported by the State government's Digital Farm Grants program which has been rolling out high speed broadband to regional areas outside of the National Broadband Network footprint.

Under round two of the program, the Central Wheatbelt was awarded a $500,000 grant to boost the region's digital connectivity last week.

CRISP Wireless will install the broadband infrastructure in the Shires of Merredin, Bruce Rock and Narembeen to improve internet access across an area of up to 9800 square kilometres.

The investment is expected to benefit 65 agribusinesses in the area.

"Whether it is getting real-time data from in-field sensors or accessing web tools, the one essential ingredient for today's high tech farmer is having decent access to the digital superhighway," Ms MacTiernan said.

The eConnected project team also manages the WA Internet of Things DecisionAg Grants program which awarded funding to 13 growers groups, agricultural schools and colleges in 2019 to trial various on-farm connectivity solutions.

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