The East Arnhem Region of the Northern Territory covers 33,359 square kilometres, and comprises nine major communities, five of which are located on islands. The remoteness brings daily challenges for its local Council but, for the last six months, Konect has been playing a major role in reducing those distances by bringing services, work and community closer together.
The Konect program began rolling out early in 2020. ICT Manager, Jonathan Lora told us, “Last year we did a trial of Konect to provide an asset manifest of roads, bus stops, street lights etc. Previously we’d captured our data manually, which was pretty time consuming. Konect proved excellent at registering assets, especially when compared to using spreadsheets, which don’t let you capture enough data to report back to government. As we went through other solutions, we experienced many issues, including compatibility with our Apple devices. We needed a product that was easy to use and compatible. Konect ticked all the boxes.”
Engaging with Peter O’ Gorman, Managing Consultant at Cloudstreet Consulting, the partnership proved an intrinsic part of East Arnhem’s Konect experience. Peter added, “Other areas of NT government have started asking questions about Konect. One of the big enablers for us, is the developer’s interfaces, which allow us to drive external reporting and business systems with the data that Konect collects in the field. We are excited about showcasing this powerful capability.”
Strategic Project Coordinator for the East Arnhem Regional Council, Natasha Jackson talks to us about modernising processes, and bridging the requirements of a disparate region. “Konect’s capture of real time data across the 1200km of road networks provides interactive reports to assist with grant funding opportunities. The patterns it discovered really helped us improve productivity. Our rural network especially is benefitting from improved knowledge around seasonal effect dilapidation data, future maintenance and capital planning.”
When you consider that the reconstruction of a road to National Highway Standard can cost up to $900,000 per kilometre, solutions delivering cost efficiencies are big news. Jonathan explained, “Konect plays a major role in cost savings. For example, a municipal services person on an island community such as Milingimbi can load information into Konect about possible jobs, with supporting photos and asset details. With contractors often coming from Darwin or Gove, this allows an informed decision about specifications, allocations and costings without any unnecessary journeys.”
In addition, issues with communications and connectivity are significant cost factors. Jonathan continued, “When the data isn’t real time, the distinction between what was supposed to be done, and what was done is not clearly defined. In terms of justifying funding, and delivering on projects, spreadsheets and other written reporting methods, just couldn’t compare to Konect, which works both on and offline. The integration between the field work and the reporting tools, allows us to provide meaningful data to anyone. Plus, Konect’s email notifications for non-urgent works and SMS notification for urgent works is simplifying daily operations through a paperless workflow, minimising administration time.”
And it’s not all about roads. Natasha explains, “Konect is also being used for the periodic inspection of public area infrastructure, such as playgrounds, ovals, and public amenities. Streetlight inspections are providing crucial data required for planning works or managing vandalism, giving us the opportunity to implement strategies to protect our assets”.
The Council’s mission statement talks about building community capacity, maximising service effectiveness and linking people with information. So how is Konect helping Natasha work toward these goals? She said, “We’ve received positive feedback from our local Municipal Team in Gapuwiyak who’ve tested Konect and love the simplicity of recording defects and being able to view the data on the map”.
“The Konect app is very intuitive and depending on your role in the process, you almost need no training.”
Natasha continued, “Our instructional video is near completion and will be produced in English, Yolŋu Matha and Anindilyakwa. It incorporates a regional offline map, creating satellite imagery without phone reception. When the data is synced, automatic recognition of the community’s name, road name and property boundaries are captured.”
If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that you can’t predict the future. But that is not stopping Natasha, Jonathan and Peter from being prepared. Jonathan said, “With regard to roads, anticipating future conditions, and providing the reports to funding bodies could really be a big winner for us. Generating funding will allow us to provide the effective services that the community needs.”
Peter said, “We’ve got our sights on predictive maintenance. Bringing additional data into Konect, such as weather, allows us to say that it’s 90% likely that in this location, you’ll need to check up on a certain part of a road or infrastructure. In a year, East Arnhem will have a locally trained, intelligent model that knows and can evaluate each location on its merits”.
“We’re really supportive of this predictive approach. Our historical data is happening now! In the next year, with Konect helping to capture the way roads and other assets are affected by the weather, we can determine our future needs.”
The Northern Territory is a place of community, experience and story. Konect’s multitude of benefits to both community and government make it an invaluable contributor. It’s a story with a long way to go.