Grassroots techies growing internet innovation in …
On a cool night in Perth’s north a crowd gathers beneath an array of white painted satellite dishes.
Motors whirr and gears click as the dishes swivel in their arcs, linking up the invisible connections that keep Perth online.
The Perth International Telecommunications Centre has been connecting Perth to the world for 30 years. Photo: Tammy Zorde
The Perth International Telecommunications Centre near the pine plantations at Gnangara houses antennas and satellite dishes that support the city’s internet and even helps the European and Japanese space agencies conduct missions.
For the past thirty years this sprawling complex has been Perth’s electronic link to the world – but the crowd gathered there is looking much further ahead, and looking to strengthen that connection using new kinds of technology.
Products like smart fridges are part of the Internet of Things – but what else will be thought up in the future? Photo: Bloomberg
“The Internet of Things is where you have devices that have sensors and they collect information and send it up to the cloud – and the Internet of Everything is another layer on top of that, where you find ways to actually use the data that’s been collected.”
Tom Zorde is the co-founder of the Internet of Everything Community in Perth, a group of people from all walks of life who are interested in developing and using new technologies they reckon will drive the future economy of Australia.
As the internet gets bigger, faster and smarter, concepts like the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything (IoE) are gaining traction as businesses seek new ways to collect information and use it smartly.
This could have huge implications for WA’s sliding economy, helping create new kinds of technology that could generate the jobs of the future.
Tom Zorde (middle) is part of Perth’s growing Internet of Everything community. Photo: Tammy Zorde
“In fields like mining where a company can use sensors to gauge the wear and tear of its gear and use that information to replace things when the actually wear out, rather than just rely on time or distance measurements. They can be much more efficient and cut down on wastage,” Mr Zorde said.
“Or in agriculture you can have sensors measuring soil quality or water use and then feed that information back and find out exactly where you need to water and where you don’t. The ability to understand the environment allows organisations to optimise their businesses.
The Perth International Telecommunications Centre has helped the European and Japanese space agencies conduct missions. Photo: Jonathan Petale
Just like how the emergence of smartphones led to the creation of technologies like apps and social media, Mr Zorde reckons the potential of IoT and IoE is only just being tapped and will throw up unheralded innovation as it progresses.
“The data is the resource and we see it now with ‘the cloud’ and business intelligence and analytics, simulation. There’s two parts to it – collecting the information and then finding ways to actuate it. That can be anything from an app to robotics. The possibilities are all about working smart.”
To help fuel that, the 840-strong Internet of Everything Community is affiliated with other groups in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore, Sao Paulo in Brazil and Johannesburg in South Africa, a network of more than 6,000 people, with scores more global groups on their radar.
Between them start ups, IT professionals, business leaders and enthusiasts come together to share ideas about the shape of things to come.
And for Mr Zorde, the future prospects for Perth and WA are as bright as the satellite dishes twisting under the twilight sky.
“There is a real sense of innovation in Perth, it ‘s quite vibrant and there are people doing all kinds of exciting things and the community is really supportive.
“There are start up groups like Morning Startup who meet to generate ideas and build businesses, and we are just one of the many groups looking at these kinds in things in Perth. People are hungry for knowledge and we have a lot of talent and passion here.”