Ex-Sydneysider STUART PEARSON looks at Bathurst and its future from the perspective of a new resident.
I RECENTLY caught up with a good friend of mine and neighbour, David Ten Broeke (Brijid Media). He had just returned from a visit to the innovative University of Wollongong, to learn about some of the latest technology that is making the world safer, friendlier and more efficient.
According to David, Wollongong is the number one “smart city” in Australia. But then he stunned me by saying that Bathurst must be number two!
I couldn’t let a claim like that go unchallenged, so I asked him to clarify. It was a robust conversation and in the end both of us were able to share details about Bathurst’s innovation and forward-thinking.
Here is the list that we came up with. It’s not meant to be definitive, as I’m sure there are other initiatives that we missed.
Smart meters for gas, water and electricity are beginning to be rolled out across the Bathurst region, allowing up-to-the-minute accurate measurement of consumption at any time of the day.
After a slow start, CCTV is progressively covering the CBD. Not only will the technology benefit the police, it will have a significant commercial application: counting the numbers of attendees at events or customers entering and leaving shopping centres will assist planning for future events and commercial property development.
Smart street lighting is on its way, where the light is only activated when a car, bicycle or pedestrian approaches and it switches off after the person or vehicle has safely passed.
This will not only cut down on light pollution, but also save the authorities millions of dollars in efficient electricity usage.
Even the humble lightpole is no longer just for illumination. Now, they integrate cameras and audio that can be used to tell stories in historical precincts, as well as issue warnings in emergency situations.
Bathurst is the first inland city to run a “business incubator” - where young start-up companies can operate and share ideas. Brijid Media is just one of several entrepreneurial firms that have taken advantage of locating at the Upstairs Hub above the Reliance Bank in Russell Street.
A second race circuit at Mount Panorama is not just for sport. Marrying the racetrack with a technology park full of high-tech, innovative, leading-edge companies will boost Bathurst’s employment of automotive experts, designers, engineers and scientists.
Tesla installed its first supercharger west of the Blue Mountains in Bathurst and other motorist organisations are negotiating with council to install electric rechargers too.
Rolling out a free Wi-Fi network across the CBD is almost complete. And NBN has come to Bathurst and is revolutionising business.
Bathurst is even the location of one of Telstra’s most significant call centres. Based in Bentinck Street, the call centre oversees the NBN’s complex rollout across eastern Australia. Telstra’s Bathurst call centre employs more than 110 highly skilled customer service operators and is seeking to grow.
Bathurst Regional Council has spent the past eight years and $300,000 progressively reducing its dependence on electricity sourced from fossil fuels in favour of renewables, such as solar. So far, council has installed more than 200Kw of solar panels on the roofs of its own buildings, saving about $100,000 on its electricity bill each year.
There is still a long way to go before council becomes totally free of coal-burnt electricity, but even so its efforts were recognised with Bathurst Regional Council becoming a finalist in the 2016 “Green Globe Awards”.
Council’s environmental, planning and building services director Neil Southorn has been quoted in the Western Advocate recently saying: “Bathurst is well on the way to becoming a national leader in Smart City development.”
How about second smartest city in inland Australia.