Clinical school is state-of-the-art

ARMIDALE is well on its way to becoming the New England’s first fully digitally-integrated town after the communications minister declared it was embracing the possibilities of the National Broadband  Network (NBN) yesterday.

On his second visit to Armidale this year, the minister, Stephen Conroy, inspected the University of New England’s (UNE) revolutionary use of the NBN, as well as the local business chamber’s innovation and the new hospital that’s set to use it by this time next year.

The Member for New England, Tony Windsor, who brought federal funding and attention to Armidale’s plight for the NBN after offering his support to the Gillard government at the last election, joined Mr Conroy on his regional visit.

UNE was the first stop on the tour, where the NBN is being used to power its SMART Farm project.

The university’s 7000 acre Kirby Farm has been using the super-fast internet connections to track the movements of its cattle and monitor them, as well as examining soil moisture.

“The university, in collaboration with the CSIRO and the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation, is highlighting how important the NBN will be to Australia’s agricultural sector into the future,” Mr Conroy said.

He said the NBN’s capacity, 

in terms of bandwidth and speed, will enable farms to improve productivity and foster innovation.

Mr Conroy next visited the Armidale Business Chamber’s Digital Hub project, which has been offering NBN tutorial sessions for local residents and businesses.

He said the hub had already attracted 1800 participants and Tamworth– next on the list for the NBN’s fibre optic cable connections in the New England – could expect a hub in the new year.

Mr Conroy also officially marked construction of Armidale’s $10.5m federally funded rural medical training facility.

Construction of the Tablelands Clinical School, part of UNE’s School of Rural Medicine, was opened by the minister, who said the government was proud to contribute because it will be at the forefront of training medical professionals in 

regional Australia.

The centre will also be connected to the NBN, which will deliver high-definition video conferencing facilities and joint real-time ultrasounds between local students and others 

overseas.

“The construction of this state-of-the-art facility is another boost to the local economy and, once complete, will be able to train 60 students a year,” Mr Conroy said.

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