Member snapshot – James Howell from PDK IT


When you ask James Howell how Wagga might embrace new technologies, his face lights up.

Smart metering, free wifi, street lighting efficiencies and driving user behaviour through the clever use of data were just some of the many ideas he raised. 

Director of PDK IT, James has seen many initiatives such as these implemented around the world and would love to see them put to good use here.

“I’ve been travelling overseas for the last three weeks and the free wifi in hotels and in exhibition centres makes a huge difference.

“When you look at the amount of people that are coming to Wagga for military march outs, students coming for CSU, people using medical and professional services, having a wifi network not only lands them on a page that connects them to the different things they’re searching for, it is also a great marketing tool. 

“It depends how far-reaching you want the free wifi to go, but we’ve already got CCTV and that same fibre optic can be used to build the wireless network.

“That network could then be expanded to other locations, like public transport. If you’ve already got a corridor where you’ve got high speed communication, providing marketing material onto buses to encourage consumer behaviour could be the next step.”

James describes the data gathered by new technologies as “fantastic”.

“You can use big data to build a profile of a particular consumer and use that profile to tailor advertising.

“This level of information can be used to steer buying behaviour and encourage more business to be done locally.” 

Other technologies can be used in city planning activities. James points to smart metering, smart bins and smart parking as some of the options.

“The city could be leveraging sensors to report on parking utilisation. That’s as simple as drilling a small hole in the ground and putting a sensor-based device in that communicates for the next 10 years or so.

“The same could be used for garbage collection. Wagga City Council is looking at reducing the small green rubbish bin to once a fortnight, but if you put a device on the bin, people wouldn’t have to put it out once a week. They may be able to put their bin out twice in one week but not put it out for another three weeks.

“The system would then report on where those bins are due to be collected and people could go and collect them. It actually reduces crime, too, because if people haven’t got their bin out the front of their house on particular days, others can’t track when homes are empty.” 

Whether data is being used in marketing campaigns or to plan for the growth of the city, this technology is already being harnessed.

“The big thing is that businesses need to look at where the opportunity is for them. This type of data allows them to actually grow their business and their market share locally. 

“Other cities are starting to take this on and embrace it and there’s a real opportunity for Wagga City Council and local businesses to embrace these technologies, too.

“I’d like to see this smart information operating both inside businesses and in the wider community because the opportunity is huge.

“I believe that all boats rise on a rising tide and if there are opportunities for businesses to do well we all prosper.”

PDK IT received a commendation in the Optimising Investments – Enterprise category at the 2017 CRN Impact Awards held in April for its work overhauling the national communications network of Sureway Employment and Training.

NewsCristy Houghton