Lloyd Robert Borrett


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Are we there yet?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

A WiFi service inspiration from Philadelphia  

I read recently that the USA city of Philadelphia is considering adding WiFi boxes to all street lights, making the whole city WiFi alive. What a simply amazing concept!

This would benefit Philadelphia in ways we can only begin to imagine today. The city provides a platform, and the community and its entrepreneurs will find a million new ways to make it valuable.

Can you imagine an Australian city, state or federal government being enlightened enough to even consider this? Sadly, I can't.

The only new public utility service I can think of that has been created in my lifetime is the global positioning system (GPS). But GPS was created and paid for by the USA for military purposes. Australia's public leaders had nothing to do with it. GPS was only set free for serious public use relatively recently. We are only just starting to see the many ways that GPS as a free public utility service will benefit government, industry, community and individuals though improved navigation, tracking and measurement systems.

No, in the modern age of "free markets" and "user pays", it is hard to see any new public utility service ever being created, let alone implemented, in Australia.

We seem to so easily forget that had earlier generations of Australia's public leaders had the same attitudes as today's public leaders, we would never have seen the introduction of what were then revolutionary new public utility services like sewage, water, electricity, street lighting, telephone, freeways, railways etc. Nor would generations of the Australian people and their communities have prospered from the introduction of such beneficial new public services.

Can you imagine what our communities would look like today if our forebears didn't have the vision to implement and support such new public service utilities? Well you probably won't have to imagine it for too long. For if today's public leaders continue on the path they are currently on, we will get to see it for ourselves, sooner rather than later.

Sadly, today's political leaders don't seem to be able to have a vision for anything beyond their current elected term. The exception that proves the rule is when, at election time, they start to promise us what they might do in their next elected term. But then, we all know that there are very few "core promises" made these days. Gone are the days when leaders with vision would deliver public services that would bring real benefits to future generations.


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