Andrew Connor 4 MVC

Friday, 26 February 2016

WiFi Popular with Firies at Mole Creek

Since last week, interstate and local fire fighters have been enjoying free Wireless Internet (WiFi) at the Mole Creek Fire Staging Area to stay in touch with loved ones while away from home.
The service I setup with the assistance of others has been popular with up to 39 concurrent users during periods of downtime for the fire fighters and support staff.
WiFi allows personnel to reliably stay in touch with their family, friends and businesses while they are helping fight Tasmania’s bushfires. Mobile coverage in the Mole Creek area can be patchy at times, which is a big problem for interstate visitors.  WiFi provides more data availability and capacity while relieving the mobile networks of congestion for essential use.
The free WiFi service came together in just 48 hours with the assistance of Tiers Technology for installation, Meander Valley Council loaning equipment and the Mole Creek Hotel supplying the Internet connection.
Since being installed on February 17th, around 150 unique devices have used the service and over 35 gigabytes of data have been downloaded or uploaded.  The most popular times for use are 6-8pm & 6-7am.
Access to Public WiFi in times of emergency for frontline service personnel and the public is essential for modern communications. Meander Valley Council has plans to introduce Public WiFi in locations across the municipality this year.

The Mole Creek Fire Staging Area was established at the Mole Creek oval in late January as a helicopter base for firefighting activities around Lake Rowallan & Lake Mackenzie. Since then it has grown to service more helicopter traffic and accommodate over 100 volunteers overnight.
I'm Unit Manager of the SES Northern Region - Incident Management Unit and a member of the Meander Valley Council - Emergency Management & Community Recover Committee.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

NBN Cost Estimate Info & Prospect Vale meeting

Information and commentary on some key issues covered in today’s Meander Valley Council meeting.

NBN upgrade for Westbury and Hadspen
Council decided to release cost estimate information received from NBNCo for a potential upgrade of the NBN rollout in Westbury and Hadspen.  It revealed that the incremental cost to install fibre-optic broadband rather than second-rate copper (Fibre-to-the-Node) broadband was between $2,200,000-2,750,000 million for Hadspen and between $2,750,000-$3,300,000 for Westbury.
These amounts are clearly beyond the resources of a small council such as Meander Valley to fund. Furthermore, there was little substance as to how the figures were arrived at and it appears that no on-the-ground investigation was undertaken to support these estimates.
Council will write to NBNCo and demand a refund of the $10,000 application fee due to the lack of information supporting these estimates.  Ballpark figures such as those provided could have been arrived-at with publicly available information, we needed more substantive figures and supporting information to even consider progressing this upgrade.

NBN Cost Estimate - Hadspen [PDF]
NBN Cost Estimate - Westbury [PDF]

Holding a Council meeting in Prospect Vale – Rescinded
Council today rescinded their decision made in the November meeting to hold one regular meeting in 2016 in Prospect Vale.  Usually council meetings are held monthly at the chambers in Westbury during the afternoon, however in recent years’ council has opted to hold one meeting per year in Prospect Vale during the evening. This was done to make the democratic workings of council more accessible to the 42% of the Meander Valley ratepayers who live in the urban areas of the municipality. 
Some Councillors sought to overturn their earlier decision on the basis of a minuscule cost saving and supposed safety concerns of staff driving in the dark.
Council needs to be open and accessible to its community. It needs to accommodate community needs, not dictate them.  It is disappointing that council time is wasted on this kind of motion when there’s far more important issues to consider he added. 

I foreshadowed a motion that will mandate Internet streaming of council meetings using recently installed audio-visual equipment that will make all meetings more accessible to ratepayers.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A new term of council begins

A new term of council has commenced, here are my questions without notice from the November meeting:

Question 1

Has council been approached; or made approaches to the State Government or other councils to discuss mergers or amalgamations?   Will it participate in meetings upon invitation from others?  This council needs to be aware and in control of this process lest it be forced upon us without consultation.

Verbal Answer:  No & It will participate if council decides to.

Question 2
Can council officers provide an update on the project to install audio equipment in the council room which will facilitate internet streaming of council meetings. This was budgeted for in the 2013-2014 financial year.

Verbal Answer: Tenders have been sought from several providers and one quote has been received so far.