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SEGRA 2018

SEGRA 2018 - Save the date

We are delighted to announce the SEGRA 2018 conference will be held from 22 - 25 October in Mackay, QLD at the Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre.

More information will be revealed in the coming weeks.

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Insights from SEGRA 2017

Voted one of the best speakers of SEGRA 2017

Ian Aitken was voted as one of the best speakers of SEGRA 2017. Ian's presentation was on Disruption and the 21st Century, click on the link below to view his presentation.

Ian was recently appointed CEO of Unisono Pty Ltd which is primarily focused on the Sofihub Behavioural Learning platform. Unisono has developed Sofi to allow people to live empowered, independent lives in their own homes. Layered on IoT based sensor technology Sofi is enabling people to stay in their homes longer through the use of this AI based Digital Assisted Living technology. The Sofi AI platform has been developed over the last 19 years with industry leading experts and is applicable in multiple markets including Assisted Living, Aged Care and many other markets.

An industry veteran, Ian brings with him over 24 years of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) experience with global companies including Samsung Electronics, Cisco Systems, Lucent Technologies and Concerto.

Mr. Aitken studied (badly) electronic engineering in Australia at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (RMIT) and is a passionate technology evangelist and avid listener of good quality music. Informally studied human psychology and early childhood development. Ian is keenly interested in helping and developing people communicate better, interact better and develop deep human relationships.

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Around the Regions

RED Toolbox updates

First "Can it work? session for councils (there will be more)
Last week, a group of councils worked through a 3-hour “Can it work? brainstorming session in Brisbane, to determine how new digital decision solution tools, including blockchain can work for councils and regional organisations.

Blockchain - distributed ledger technology including smart contracts - is now being used by organisations across the globe for many things, including digital rights management, energy markets, board governance, crowd funding, identity management, auctions, chronic disease management, emergency management, community management, IP and copyright protection, privacy and finance. Blockchain offers new possibilities through its distributed ledger (distributed database) technology, which allows data and applications to be shared across a network privately and incorruptibly. It was one of the main discussion subjects in Davos last week.

The "Can it work?" session was designed to identify problems and pain points shared by councils, and define the journey from operational pain to possible solutions – at the same time unlocking verifiable value from the adoption of a new approach - and capturing new tradable digital assets. So we asked the question “Can it work?” for councils and regions.

The objective was to define a project applicable to all participating councils and a roadmap for next steps including project cost (shared across participating councils) and timetable.

Project Framework
The solutions group – RDA Brisbane, The RED Toolbox , Stephen Alexander (Can it work?) and ConsenSys – can engage, define and create “solutions” to problems and issues for regions - “communities of interest” using blockchain and other solutions.

Discussion with councils
The framework for the session was established:

  • What are the common problems for councils?
  • Is there a root cause for each problem?
  • What is it?
  • Can we fix it?
  • Can we establish one or two projects based on this information?
  • Let’s “do it”

There was agreement that:

“The root problem for all local governments is not being able to reconcile the cost of regional government and the ratepayer ability to pay, with the demands of building a sustainable and constantly improving economic and social, regional environment. And at the same time missing out on the opportunity to create new value streams for council and citizens, because of being locked into legacy ICT systems. And missing the opportunity to be a conduit for state and federal government for services back into the community”

Examples were given of blockchain use for land registry, energy, citizen identity, emergency services and licensing.

If individuals give informed consent to council to act as broker for their selected interests within the region, then there is an opportunity to elevate a CRM from one way engagement into a two way “trust broker”, managing trust through legal instruments of consent = with people allowing councils to do more things on their behalf.

Blockchain can be used to manage information so that it can be:

  • used by individual citizens,
  • used for the common good
  • and to generate value for the community now and in the longer term – through tokens and other means (a reward system)

Governance can be created collaboratively, with limits defined and customised to stop manipulation and monopoly. Effectively all parties involved in a blockchain project own part of the system. Digital rights can be legally assigned to individuals in the region. In return, individuals can give digital rights back for use under certain specified conditions.

Create a demonstration project
The session discussion led to agreement on a demonstration project of value to all councils.

The Dog License and its ecosystem – the demonstration project
In Queensland all dogs must be registered with the local council. Registration is lodged along with registration fee and description of status – dangerous, menacing, restricted, desexed (with certificate from vet) and microchipped.

Additional permits are required for breeding or selling dogs and for keeping guard dogs.

A project will involve:

  • Defining the “pain points” and “value” in putting the licensing process into a blockchain solution
  • Defining liability and the legal framework
  • Looking at commercialisation opportunities for councils
  • Deciding the “rules” for data generated through the project
  • Scalable (“rules” for use by other councils in Queensland and other States)
  • Tokenise activity (Reward system for involvement/Reward points - ether) – involving vets, RSPCA, insurance, microchips, banks etc
  • Tokenise the goodwill generated through the ecosystem – vets, RSPCA, insurance, microchips, banks etc
  • Demand aggregation (how can aggregated/permissioned data be used for public and commercial benefit eg insurance deal)
  • Extension – the model can be used in other licensing areas – boating, fishing, hunting etc

This project is open to additional councils. If interested, please contact for more information. Other projects are now in the pipeline for supply chain, IP protection, agribusiness, emergency services etc.

Become a RED Toolbox partner
Become a RED Toolbox partner, collaborate, create a GROUP or multiple GROUPS for your region, sector, business or organisations, connect to other regions and groups, and promote your region and its exporters.

Help set the agenda on future projects.

Join the RED Toolbox, add your ideas and become part of the solution today.

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Regional Development Resources

Rural suicide and its prevention: a CRRMH position paper

Rural suicide causes enormous distress to individuals, families, workplaces, and communities and needs to be addressed seriously. We would like to start by expressing our sympathy to all whose lives have been touched by the suicide of a family member, friend or acquaintance.

In 2016, the number of suicides per 100,000 people in rural and remote Australia was 50% higher than in the cities. This rate gets higher as areas become more remote and has been growing more rapidly than in the cities. The rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is twice that for non-Indigenous people.

The CRRMH believes that five focus areas are needed to address this situation. Two are for immediate action to prevent suicide deaths (now and into the future) and three are designed to prevent deaths in the future.

The prevention of rural suicide is not the sole responsibility of health services or of mental health services. There are important roles for governments, private sector, health and welfare institutions, rural and remote communities, and individuals.

Four qualities that helped small businesses survive the end of the resources boom

This article talks about the value of robust external network connections that provide the basis from which firms can see, anticipate, and exploit market trends.

The “once in a lifetime” mining boom is officially behind us. Anaemic economic growth and unemployment have already beset the predominately resource-based economies of Western Australia and Queensland.

Recent reports out of Western Australia reveal companies are racking up debt to stay in business and many more are becoming insolvent.

But new research indicates the small to medium enterprises which survived the pivot away from resources shared four qualities, irrespective of which sector they operated in.

Boom to bust

Our recent study of the resilience capabilities of 400 small businesses in regional Queensland towns affected by the recent $60 billion plus investment in the coal seam gas to liquefied natural gas sheds some light on the subject.

These businesses have seen the dramatic rise in economic activity during the construction phase of these projects and then a reversion to more normal levels as the construction was completed. Many businesses were unprepared for the end of the cycle and experienced a bust in business conditions.

Attribution: this article first appeared in The Conversation.

The end of the mining boom has meant doom for many West Australians. Photo: Simon Bosch

Living and loving life on a cattle station in northern Australia

Aside from a pair of tight jeans, big boots and a 10-gallon-hat, have you ever wondered what it takes to work on a cattle station in northern Australia?

From the camp cook to the wild young ringer chasing scrub bulls, a wide variety of people keep the northern cattle industry ticking.

Whether it is to build a career, a relationship, or to have a good time, here are some people who have decided to work on the land.

The endless gap year

For a year's break between high school and further study, Annie Henwood moved to Cubbaroo Station near Cloncurry to experience life as a ringer.

Moving from a farm near Toobeah in southern Queensland, Ms Henwood said the idea to move up north had come from a family friend.

However, the decision was not easy.

"My brother went overseas and did a gap year and I thought, yeah that's great, that would be awesome," Ms Henwood said.

Although gap years are becoming a popular venture in the north, many, like Jacqueline Clark, have decided to stay longer.

Attribution: this article first appeared on ABC News on 8th January 2018.

Staff from Cubbaroo and Granada Stations enjoy each other's company after a hard day of work.
Cubbaroo Station ringers Jacqueline Clark and Annie Henwood visit to Granada Station after some end of season mustering.

WA community pitches in to help dairy farmer diagnosed with prostate cancer

A small Western Australian community has banded together to rake, cut and cart 60 hectares of silage for a dairy farmer who has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

For 45-year-old Brett Milner and his family, who live in Acton Park, just outside of Busselton in the state's south west, the diagnosis came as quite a shock.

Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.

"It's very unusual as a mid-40-year-old man to be diagnosed with prostate cancer," he said.

"I myself thought it was just one for the old fellas.

"But the more I've gone through the testing just made me realise it's really important that you listen to your body."

According to figures from Cancer Australia, the most common age to get prostate cancer is between 65 and 69.

About 40 people from the community helped out on the day, finishing it off with a barbeque at the local town hall.

Mr Milner and his wife, Jo, said they were overwhelmed by the support.

Attribution: this article first appeared on ABC News.

The New Localism: how cities can thrive in the age of populism

"Waiting for the Feds"

As we move around the United States on our New Localism book tour, we hear a constant refrain: the current dysfunction in the federal government is a bad storm that will ultimately pass, a nightmare that will end with the next election.

We certainly understand and even support this view. The desire for a less chaotic federal government is, in large part, a reaction to the dishonesty and manic irresponsibility of the Trump administration. The executive branch is being damaged in ways hard to calculate in terms of our political culture.

The need for a more effective federal government is also rooted in recognition of the fact that it is uniquely positioned to carry out certain functions. A strong federal partner enhances rather than diminishes local innovation and performance. As we write in the book’s initial chapter:

[T]he devolution of power and problem solving to local levels is not an argument against the vital importance of federal and state governments … The federal government must do things that only it can do, including safeguarding national security, providing a stronger social safety net than it presently does, providing guarantees of constitutional protections and civil rights, making smart national infrastructure investments, protecting natural resources, protecting the integrity of markets, and funding scientific research, innovation, and postsecondary education to keep the nation competitive.

But we take the unpopular stance, for progressives anyway, that the federal government is in the process of a structural change that will dramatically limit the scale and range of its actions for years to come, even if more enlightened leadership returns. It can become more rational and less reactionary, but will increasingly be limited with respect to scope and capacity. The next federal government—no matter who wins in 2020—will not revert to an era of new domestic programs.

Three structural realities will continue to limit the ability of the federal government to participate in constructive domestic problem solving.

First, the federal government has little “fiscal freedom” to shift investments to the country’s pressing challenges given the aging of the country. In Dead Men Ruling, the Urban Institute’s Gene Steuerle shows how growth in the non-child portions of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs and payment on the national debt are fueled by decisions made by prior Congresses; hence the title of his book. He bases his assumptions on Congressional Budget Office forecasts that by 2026, the federal government will be spending $4.1 trillion a year on entitlement programs such as Social Security, squeezing investments in housing, infrastructure, education, children and research and development.

Secondly, the Congress and federal agencies lack the operational discretion to customize solutions and investments to the disparate needs of different communities. On the one hand most federal programs are on autopilot, each line item jealously guarded by component constituencies. Federal agencies oversee programs that are highly circumscribed, curbing innovation. On the other hand, the end of earmarks has distanced Congress from the communities they represent and made many worthy projects, particularly in weak market communities, un-financeable. A brutal fact: a small philanthropy in a medium sized city has more discretion than a Cabinet Secretary to be useful to important community projects.

Third, the federal government is losing talent in droves. Career employees in agencies as disparate as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of State are opting to take retirement rather than oversee policy and regulatory changes based on ideology rather than grounded in fact and evidence. When talented employees leave they take institutional knowledge with them, diminishing the ability of their agencies to make decisions that build on the lessons from prior interventions and initiatives. Government agencies do not run themselves. It will take years to rebuild agencies with a dedicated civil service of creative professionals.

These structural changes are occurring as globalization is redefining the role of the nation-state. In an era of hyper-global trade, travel, and communication, the links between cities and metropolitan communities increasingly flow through global circuits of capital, ideas, and talent. The local and global converge, bypassing national governments and redefining the meaning of local capacity and even national sovereignty. It is no accident that cities and counties are building their own climate change, labor market, immigration, and global economic strategies.

Today, transformative change is more likely to happen when city leaders stop believing that the federal government will come to their rescue. Why take risks, expend political and corporate capital, if there is hope that higher levels of government will do the work? The sooner we accept the new reality of a changed national government, the more pronounced and impactful local innovations become.

Having a federal government that does its basic job well would be a major victory. In today’s context, the Feds should focus on the big stuff worthy of a national government rather than returning to programs large enough to distract local leaders but too small to have impact.

The local innovations we detail in our book involve the interplay of civil society, the local public sector, and private investors and firms coming together to solve significant problems. Over the next several decades there will be an accelerating number of new models to undergird economic growth, redefine governance, and demonstrate new ways to finance the future. They will not come about as mandates from higher levels of government but from pragmatic leaders that work across multiple sectors.

Moreover, this New Localism is an important precondition for redefining federalism in the 21st century: a federalism that combines the progressive interest in intervention with conservative perspectives on local autonomy. It is important that the federal government maintain minimum standards in everything from civil rights to environmental health. But one size fits all federal rules and policies are being pushed aside both by the federal vacuum and local initiatives.

In the future we will have enough authentic urban practice to reverse engineer social policy: beginning with what works locally and packaging requests to a federal platform that can enhance local initiative. We are building the new federalism today. One day we will have a federal partner with whom we can reconstruct inter-governmental relationships on a more affirmative and pragmatic basis. But for now, it is important to note that the cavalry is not coming to the rescue. It is up to us.

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