PhD topic: Measuring and quantifying the benefits of improved internet connectivity in regional and remote Australia and its effect on adoption of technology
University: James Cook University
Supervisors: Dr Rachel Hay & Prof. Ian Atkinson
William Harrington grew up on a remote cattle station in the north west of Queensland, over 600 kilometres from the nearest city. He is currently undertaking a Food Agility PhD at James Cook University and has just been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.
My PhD project aims to understand how farmers use the internet, including how often, what a farmer’s typical data usage is, and what types of websites and applications they use. At this point in time there is very little, if any research in this area and I am excited to be able to contribute.
I have always loved being able to bring together my two passions, technology and agriculture. Improved connectivity can make a tangible different to the lives of people in regional Australia and enables the adoption of new technologies that improve efficiency, production and environmental outcomes. There has been a lot of talk in the media about connectivity in regional Australia and I decided to do a PhD to try and produce scientific data that can be used to guide decision and policy makers.
The Food Agility Higher Degree by Research (HDR) program is an incredible opportunity to work with some of the nation’s leading scientists on problems that are important to the future of our nation and the globe. The support provided by Food Agility through the HDR program has enabled me to focus on my PhD and has provided access to mentors and other scholars.
A Fulbright scholarship is an amazing opportunity to study in the US. I will be based at Ohio State University for four months and will spend time there studying the US approach to rural broadband.
The US is a world leader in this area and I would like to use the opportunity to learn from institutions such as the Federal Communications Commission, US Department of Agriculture, and academic organisations such as the Perdue Centre for Regional Development. I am planning on taking my family over there, including my wife and our two children, and I am excited that they will have the opportunity to experience living in the US and its culture.
Upon completion of my PhD, I would like to remain in regional Australia and continue to research topics that are related to farmers, connectivity and technology adoption.