Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) and Westpac have teamed up to deploy 51 drones around Australia during the nation's beach-going months. The drones are intended to provide aerial vision and surveillance to help spot rips and swimmers in distress, and could in future drop buoyancy devices to swimmers, the pair said. Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) President Graham Ford said the drones will be "hugely beneficial". "There is no better time than now to welcome new technologies that can help us protect more Australians," he said. The drones will be located throughout the New South Wales and Queensland coasts; at St Kilda and Frankston in Victoria, as well as a mobile unit; Semaphore Beach and Christies Beach in South Australia; at Frederick Henry Bay in Tasmania; at Cottesloe, Fremantle, Meelup, Smiths Beach, Secret Harbour, City Beach, Trigg, and Mullaloo in Western Australia; and one unit in Darwin.
Telstra's run of outages has continued, with customers across Australia complaining of a lack of service on ADSL and NBN connections on Friday morning. As of the time of writing, Telstra's service status page shows outages in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and South Australia. "Customers with NBN voice and data services and ADSL services may be having difficulty connecting to the internet," a Telstra spokesperson said of the incident. "The issue commenced early this morning, and is impacting NBN-based services and a small number of ADSL services. Services are in the process of being restored."
Telstra has announced activating 60 mobile base stations as part of the Australian government's mobile blackspot program, with the telecommunications provider saying it will reach 100 blackspots by the end of the year. The base stations have been upgraded or constructed in locations across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia that have suffered from a lack of mobile coverage in the past. "Communities that previously had little to no mobile reception can now access Australia's leading mobile network, allowing them to connect with family, friends, and clients as well as watch video on the go and run their businesses more effectively over fast 4G mobile broadband," said Telstra Group managing director of Networks Mike Wright. According to Wright, these 60 base stations have provided over 20,000 kilometres square of new or improved mobile coverage, with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce adding that mobile connectivity is necessary for businesses to take advantage of the digital economy. "As I travel rural and regional areas, locals tell me connectivity is one of their top issues, so this is an important step forward for the regions," Joyce said.
A startup created by a trio of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) alumni has received a AU$1.25 million funding boost from the CSIRO Innovation Fund. Created by Laura Jones, Darren Moore, and Dr Nancy Schellhorn, RapidAim will use the cash to conduct a trial of its "smart trap" fruit fly monitoring system that is hoped will replace manual trap checking. Australian Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the trial would be conducted across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. "The smart traps use lures to attract fruit flies. Females are lured in by food and males by chemicals they think will make them more attractive to female flies," Littleproud said.
Vodafone Australia has announced an investment of over AU 9 million to be spent on constructing 32 new mobile base stations across the country to improve telecommunications coverage in regional areas. The funding is separate to the federal government's mobile blackspot program, under the first round of which Vodafone is building out 70 base stations in remote areas. "Vodafone is committed to increasing coverage and choice for customers in regional Australia, and we've identified 32 sites which will build on our growth in areas outside the major metropolitan centres," Vodafone Australia CTO Benoit Hanssen said. "Many customers living in regional and rural Australia don't have access to reliable coverage, choice of provider, or both, and we're determined to drive change." The base stations will be built in Coffs Harbour Park Beach, Coffs Harbour CBD, Coffs Harbour West, Toormina, Coffs Harbour Industrial, Coffs Harbour Jetty, Coffs Harbour North, Tamworth showgrounds, South Tamworth, West Tamworth, Taminda, Tamworth Golden Guitar, Berrigan, Yeoval, Cudal, Tallimba North, Rushes Creek, Bendemeer, and Kootingal, New South Wales; Bundaberg East, Bundaberg North, Svensson Heights, Bargara, Elliots Heads, Burnett Heads, and Drillham, Queensland; Carrabin and Burracoppin, Western Australia; and Myrtle Bank, Scottsdale, Campania, and Ouse, Tasmania.