The future of work in Adelaide Creating more opportunities for the next generation
A city commonly known for its searing hot weather, churches, and close proximity to sprawling vineyards, Adelaide is beginning to its pave a new path for the future as it looks to become a national focus point for technology and collaboration.
Spanning throughout the city is the brand new Gig City, an extensive fibre optic network built by the South Australian (SA) Government to help bring local educational and research sites in line with global internet speeds, allowing them to work more efficiently.
Pivoting the network towards innovation, earlier this year the South Australian Government announced that it would be expanding the Gig City network to the city’s coworking spaces and innovation hubs, as part of a larger push to modernise the state’s economy and infrastructure.
Backed by $4.7 million under the SA government’s 2016 budget, Gig City uses 200 kilometres of SABREnet fibre optic cabling to connect nearly the entirety of Adelaide, offering speeds at a minimum of 10 times faster than the NBN.
The network was inspired by US cities such as Chattanooga, which implemented a fibre network after facing the decline of its major steel manufacturing economy.
Accelerating in scope over the years, Adelaide and the state more broadly have also faced a significant decline in traditional manufacturing jobs; the latest, the closure of major car manufacturer Holden in the city, led to the loss of hundreds of local jobs.
In response, the SA Government and tech community looked at ways to create new jobs in the state, identifying startups as a crucial area for opportunity. In order for startups to go about their work, they must have fast internet.
Adelaide is the first city outside the US to be connected with the optic network, having established it last year after forming a partnership with US Ignite, the non-profit organisation behind the US network.
Under the agreement, Adelaide businesses connecting to Gig City are provided access to collaborate with US companies and researchers across fifteen city’s also connected to the optic network.
Coworking spaces leveraging the network include St Paul’s Creative Centre, a church-turned-coworking space in the heart of Adelaide which houses a number of virtual reality (VR), 3D printing, and music startups.
Amongst them is Augment Space, a platform allowing anyone, anywhere to create and share 360 degree virtual tours. Through an online platform, users are able to upload 360 degree photos and easily create interactive, 360 degree virtual tours within a short period of time and for as little as $10.
To further support the burgeoning tech scene, US entrepreneur Tom Hajdu was appointed as South Australia’s first Chief Advisor on Innovation earlier this year.
Hajdu is working to lead local collaboration and attract startup talent to the state, engaging with the SA Government to find and introduce new ways to grow the local digital economy.