It’s easy to take quality phone reception and internet access for granted when you live in an urban or metropolitan area, but for many farmers operating in regional and rural areas, coverage can be patchy at best.
Immediate access to emergency services, when an on-farm accident occurs, is essential.
The theme of this Farm Safety week is “innovation, health and safety”, so it is only fitting that we celebrate the positive impact of technology and digital services on the farming sector, and the role they might play in saving farmers’ lives.
According to Farmsafe Australia Chairman, Charles Armstrong, technological change has the potential to introduce a “remarkable opportunity for innovative solutions and ideas around farm safety”.
In terms of personal safety for farmers, technology has allowed for the development of Personal Locator Beacons, which send a safety alert when something goes wrong in locations lacking mobile reception.
Importantly, innovation can only play a complementary role with conventional safety practices. It is still important for farmers to alert others to their plans when they go out on the farm and when they expect to get back, so that people can respond appropriately where expected times of arrival are not met. Devices that automate safety alerts are hugely beneficial to farmers, however age-worn safety practices should still be observed.
Another important way the “digital age” is impacting farmers is the roll-out of the NBN network.
NBN aim to ensure that all homes and businesses in regional, rural and remote areas have access to the NBN network by the year 2020.
“We are now in the home stretch, with more than 80% of the roll out plan complete,” NBN Australia General Manager and State and Social Corporate Affairs, Sam Dimarco said.
According to Mr Dimarco, the NBN are making the roll out seamless for farmers by allowing them to retain their fixed landline service while gaining equal access to internet as their urban counterparts.
“Increased connectivity is crucial to the productivity and safety of farmers. A connected farmer is a safe and healthy farmer,” Sam said
With increased connectivity comes a change in online behaviour. Mr Dimarco urges residents connected to NBN for the first time to be conscious of their online privacy and wary of unsolicited scammers, and to contact Scam Watch or the police if issues arise.
Further information can be found at: www.farmsafe.org.au or by contacting farmsafe Australia on (02) 6269 5622 or your state Farmsafe group.
More info on the NBN can be found here.