Newstead, Victoria, is a small town with a population of around 450 people, located about 2 hours North of Melbourne. In 2008 the town held a forum on the same day as the Federal Governments Australia 2020 Summit. The town folk discussed our visions for the town. Quite a few of the ideas involved using technology to improve the town
Commodity hardware combined with free/open source software and a bit of
know how has allowed Newstead to become a very connected town. Without
open source none of these projects could have gotten off the ground.
- Dave Hall, Newsteads Resident Geek.
In September 2008, Dave Hall moved into the area and became involved with Newstead 2021, the local community group guiding the implementation of many of the projects identified at the forum.
Technology and particularly free/open source software based solutions have made it possible to acheive a lot in a relatively short period of time. The town does not see itself as a technological backwater, but rather a place that wants to show others what is possible. In Newstead technology is being used to overcome social disadvantage and the inconveniences and inefficiencies inherent in being a small town some distance from major urban centres. an online voice for the small community.
Industry: Local Community
Geography: Australian country town.
Where: Newstead, Victoria
Software: Drupal, OpenWRT.
Communities: Newstead local Community, StixCamp.
The town now boasts many projects which have been implemented using free/open
source software, including a free wifi network, community managed website,
community run internet cafe, an internet connected weather station and
various blogs run by community groups. It even hosted the first StixCamp
(a bar camp in the "sticks"). Most of these
projects have received a combination of government and private sector sponsorhip.
The wireless network comprises 3 access points which run OpenWRT, a Linux distribution designed for running wireless networks. The ADSL connections for each of the access points have been donated by Internode. The network has proven to be very popular with locals and tourists alike, with around 40G of data consumed every month. The free network is almost zero maintenance.
The Newstead community website is powered by the open source content management system, Drupal. Around 60 residents aged between 16 and 70+ have been trained on how to manage content on the site, of those half a dozen or so are regular contributors. Drupal has allowed the town to build a site which is as unique as the town is, while providing an online voice for the small community.