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Connectivity tech drives innovation in rural New Zealand

The fourth annual MobileTech conference will take place in March next year and focus on innovative productivity tools for the rural sector.

Technology leaders from New Zealand’s primary industries of agriculture, horticulture and forestry will gather at the event to talk about new, emerging technologies and the opportunities they present.

The focus for 2016 will be connectivity - and how these technologies can ensure New Zealand remain internationally competitive.

The NZ Government’s $2 billion investment in broadband coverage aims to boost internet connectivity to around 98% of New Zealanders.

The plan is to strengthen and extend the country’s rural-based network infrastructure to assist with productivity gains for the sector.

Even with this commitment, it will not be a silver bullet - rural operators will still need to integrate additional tools and technologies to ensure coverage of critical systems on their properties and in their region, MobileTech says.

Whether it’s UAVs counting sheep, automated milking systems, robotic tractors for precision farming or automated spraying or irrigation systems, new connectivity technologies are emerging for the rural industry, says MobileTech.

According to the company, a key benefit of greater rural connectivity is the ability to collect and analyse real-time data.

Remote sensors in the soil have been enabling precision agriculture for decades, however new disruptive technologies are now providing a flood of useful information that is revolutionising the industry, according to MobileTech.

Farmers place electronic tags on their animals, forestry companies scan every tree as it is harvested and now scientists even track bees by attaching wireless sensors to them.

While connectivity is still a limiting factor in what can be achieved, the important question being tackled at the moment is what to do with all the collected data, says MobileTech.

It’s being collected from a myriad of sources: What is the data’s purpose? How much is too much? Is ‘big data’ the next big thing? How best do we manage, process, analyse and package the data into a useable format that can be used by the land owner, MobileTech says.

“There is a lot of excitement in the rural sector about the potential of big data in improving the long-term profitably of the sector,” says Ken Wilson, MobileTech 2016 programme manager.

“As well as showcasing the wide range of technologies at MobileTech in March, issues like big data, cloud-based systems, wireless monitoring, data management, enhanced quality satellite imagery, mobile computing, UAVs, robotics and automation and the internet of things will be major talking points at the event,” Wilson says.

MobileTech 2016 will include presentations, demonstrations and panel discussions on where mobile technologies are being used, how they can be integrated within the primary sector and what the opportunities are on the horizon.

Attendees will hear from and connect with both the technology developers and industry users.

The event will be held in Hamilton, New Zealand on 30-31 March 2016.