Parallel to the roll out of the national broadband network (NBN) the government also has its National Digital Economy Strategy.
Based on the trans-sector model the NBN will become the shared infrastructure for a range of sectors such as e-health, e-education, smart grids, e-government, digital economy, digital media, etc. The first release sites are playing a key role in testing this concept, while at the same time allowing organisations to obtain first-hand experience in building the digital economy.
A new way of thinking will be required to guide us through the next stage of human evolution, and the trans-sector approach to the NBN will be critical infrastructure in this process. In this report we draw attention to the importance of looking across sectors to create synergy.
We are convinced that convergence offers unprecedented opportunities if the NBN is linked to trans-sector innovation, creating a true digital economy. Such a parallel strategy can break through the many silo-based structures that have been created over the last 50 years. And it can break through inflexible vertically-integrated structures that increase costs and impede competition and innovation.
Such an approach will most likely result in economic and social benefits worth many billions of dollars and, as we are already seeing, it will create significant new business opportunities for Australian companies. In healthcare alone there is talk of savings worth more than $10 billion; and $2 billion in smart grid.
This report also discusses a new approach which applies across infrastructure projects, and looks at the potential synergies between the building of roads, sewerage systems and water and gas pipe networks, as well as telecoms and electricity networks.
Education, information and ongoing community engagement are critical in ensuring that the projects receive the widespread support needed to make them successful. Adaptation issues, plus a review of silo-based regulations, funding mechanisms and legal barriers, need to be addressed.