Ararat in regional Victoria is opening a Digital Co-Working Space alongside a free WIFI network including 48 hotspots, set to fast track ‘smart city’ services. 

Victorian Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Jaala Pulford, visited the Community Hub and Digital Co-Working Space that has been delivered in partnership with the Ararat Rural City Council through the Victorian Government’s $3.5 million Regional Digital Fund, which supports small-scale digital projects identified through the local Regional Partnership.

The Hub will provide a central location for local businesses and individuals to better connect and collaborate.

It comes as residents, visitors and local businesses in Ararat and Lake Bolac prepare to enjoy access to a world-class, free WiFi network, funded by a Victorian Government initiative to improve connectivity in regional Victoria.

The Victorian Government’s $1.56 million investment will allow the Ararat Rural City Council to deliver the project in partnership with Telstra, building 48 WiFi hotspots to connect Ararat’s retail precinct, the Visitor Information Centre, the Ararat Active Corridor and Lake Bolac foreshore.

Due to be complete in early 2022, the fibre and cellular WiFi connectivity will also give Council the opportunity to fast-track more “smart city” services like visitor touch-on screens, CCTV and real-time updates on important road closures and emergency alerts.

Ararat will also benefit from a trial of OpenRoaming technology in a partnership between Telstra and Cisco, which will allow users to seamlessly roam across cellular and WiFi networks.

Ararat Rural City Council CEO, Dr Tim Harrison, said, “Ararat and Lake Bolac are going to be among the first communities in Australia to benefit from this world-first technology, amplifying opportunities for local investment and innovation.”

Through partnerships with industry and local councils, free WiFi services have been delivered in Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton to better connect regional Victorians. 

Work is currently underway to deliver free WiFi networks in Geelong and the Latrobe Valley.

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