Wifi

Wi-Fi Photo: Louie Douvis

CANBERRA would become Australia's first digital city under a plan announced by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher yesterday.

Ms Gallagher said, if re-elected at the October ACT election, the government would spend $2.9 million over four years to connect Canberrans with free Wi-Fi.

Ms Gallagher told the ACT Labor Conference in Canberra of her vision to turn the capital into the nation's first digital city and unveiled the first initiatives of a Connected Capital policy.

Ms Gallagher also used the address to announce a number of election commitments, including installing high-speed broadband infrastructure in non-government schools and the establishment of a new mobile dental service.

Ms Gallagher said the time was right for Canberra to become a truly digital city and a model to others.

The plan involves installing free Wi-Fi in all town centres, bus interchanges and on all ACTION buses.

She said Tuggeranong town centre would be the first to ''go hot''.

''This is a … stride towards a truly connected capital which will ensure that every single member of the community can access the internet regardless of capacity to pay,'' Ms Gallagher said. ''The NBN [National Broadband Network] rollout presents unlimited opportunities for transforming not just the way government interacts with citizens and delivers services to the region, but the very foundations of our local and regional economy.

''A truly digital city isn't just a place where people can more easily and quickly talk to, deal with, get information from and get their own ideas to government. It's a city that looks forward, that fosters the right business environment, supports business investment and accelerates business innovation.''

Ms Gallagher said connecting ACTION buses was an important aspect of the transformation.

''[We] will also deliver free Wi-Fi on ACTION buses, another four-year, $1 million investment in our digital city. This will be great for existing commuters and will also encourage more people on to ACTION as it too develops into a modern, responsive and efficient transport service.''

Ms Gallagher also announced non-government schools would receive help installing high-speed broadband infrastructure.

The Chief Minister said the withdrawal of future funding for non-government schools under the Commonwealth Digital Education Revolution had made it hard for the education providers to keep pace with the growing demand for online learning among students.

''If re-elected, ACT Labor will fund $2.5 million worth of Smart School, Smart Student grants for non-government schools to help fund or subsidise the installation of fast broadband infrastructure in ACT non-government schools. Our children are growing up and learning in a world where the technology is changing every minute of the day.''

The territory's public schools have already been fitted with $28 million worth of information technology and fibre-optic upgrades under the Smart School, Smart Student program.