Any measure that will reduce the need for physical transportation could save large amounts of fuel and time. It will also reduce the need for more roads and airports.
Working from Home
Estimates based on a sample survey released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that in June 2000 some 980,300 persons were classified as persons employed at home. Of these, 64 percent used information technology in there job at home. For males employed at home the most common occupation groups were managers and administrators (35 percent) and professionals (28 percent), while females were most likely to be employed at home as professionals (23 percent), advanced clerical and service workers (21 percent) or intermediate clerical, sales and service workers (19 percent).
The ABS numbers are quite old (year 2000). One could argue that the current number would probably be a bit more. In any case, with the ubiquity, reliability and speed provided by the NBN, more jobs will become be suitable for the home.
If we make the assumptions below, 350 million dollars are currently saved per year in Australia by people working from home. Just on fuel!
- 1 million people working from home
- Each person travels 5Km /day to work and 5Km back
- No car sharing
- Petrol consumption is 10Km/Liter
- Petrol price is 140c/liter
- Each person works 250 days/year
If the number of people working from home because of the NBN increases by 1million over the next 10 years, it would then result in a a saving of $350 million per year (in todays currency) on fuel alone. Added benefits would be less carbon emission, fewer road works required, travel time saved, non-renewable resources saved and traffic control reduced.
If you think an increase of 1 million people because of the NBN is an over-estimate, consider this report:
In fact, according to research late last year, one quarter of Australians work from home during a typical week, and a further 15 per cent leave headquarters to go client-side. This has been backed up by research from Wainhouse, with its 2011 Asia Pacific CSP Market Sizing & 5-Year Forecast also putting the remote workforce at 25% of the population.
These statistics are hardly surprising. The sheer size of the country, combined with the fact that more than 6.5 million of us live outside the major cities, means that a significant proportion of our workforce is classified as ‘remote’ or on the road.
What’s different today is that the collaboration services – video, audio and web – now exist to help these workers stay in touch and get the job done. Whether you’re outback or in the outer suburbs, market movements suggest we’re on the brink of an Australian explosion of teleworking.
Tools and technologies that allow teams to collaborate and work together regardless of location are widely available now. Video conferencing applications exist to allow co-workers to meet face to face from anywhere, without needing to travel, while sharing screens, files and content seamlessly.
Meanwhile, cloud-based remote access services enable you to login to your complete desktop, programs, files and data securely from any location; allowing you to work in exactly the same way that you would in the office.
With the government officially endorsing teleworking, it appears the concept of flexible working has finally come of age. Telework Week is providing valuable awareness and we’re sure to see more businesses take advantage of this movement, adopting their own form of flexible work. We are not far from achieving the goal of becoming one of the world’s leading digital economies, and we will continue to see the nature of work change for the benefit of Australia as a whole.
NBN-speed internet will mean your business or organisation will finally be able to take part in education and professional development without the penalty of expensive travel and lost production hours.
Many local and oveseas business trips by business leaders are already eliminated by existing video conferencing facilities. Faster, more responsive and clearer video will make this more common. Adding many-to-many (as opposed to one-to-one) capabilities will aid substantially to reduce more travel.
Health related transport
A $20.6 million NBN Enabled Telehealth Pilots Program (‘the Program’) is a new government initiative in response to the Government’s Digital Economy Goal for health and aged care (see below). The Program will provide funding to successful proposals for pilot projects to develop and deliver telehealth services to NBN-enabled homes with a focus on aged, palliative or cancer care services, including advance care planning services. By providing better access to health services to homes within NBN early release sites, the Program will investigate and demonstrate opportunities for the extension of telehealth services in the future and the business case for doing so.
The aim of the Program is to develop and trial services which demonstrate how, for example:
- Telehealth services can be delivered to the home in new and innovative ways, enabled by the high speed, reliable broadband provided by the NBN;
- Health services can become more accessible, in regional, rural, remote and outer metropolitan areas;
- Health related transport needs can be reduced;
- Consumers can collaborate and communicate with their carers and health service providers to improve quality of care and health outcomes;
- A reduction in unnecessary hospitalisation;
- Telehealth services are scalable and able to provide an increased volume of care without a corresponding increased cost;
- Location dependent or regional health workforce skills shortages may be mitigated;
- Use of the infrastructure may increase healthcare access and reduce social isolation; and
- Communication during health emergencies could be improved.
Travel for Education
Adam Shoemaker is a Professor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Monash University. He has a strong interest in Indigenous and Digital Education issues–both domestically and globally. He is a director of Open Universities Australia and chairs the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. Below are extracts from an article by Prof. Shoemaker on “How the NBN will change education: Australia’s “Last Spike” moment”.
At the John Monash Science School on our Clayton campus, all of its 600 students have a student card just like our undergraduates. They have access to our library, to the Web of Science, to Elsevier, to Humanities Online. They can share their homework assignments through Google Docs; they can collaborate via videochat. They can connect with more than 100 television news channels from around the world — including Al Jazeera in both Arabic and English; BBC World and CNN — at no cost. They can download at 100 megabits per second — the gold standard for academic work.
The learning opportunities are superb. Consequently (and by design) innovative curriculum invention happens all the time – with school and university staff working together to mint new forms of pedagogy.
But a school located just down the road – even one with students who are equally motivated and talented – has very few of these privileges. This has to change.
The genius of the NBN is that it will break down that divide all across Australia. Instead of a digital “rain shadow” the whole nation will have equitable access. Instead of the frustration of strangled speeds, poor image clarity and slow (or no) service, an NBN society will be fundamentally more fair and productive.