Create access to high-speed rural broadband and support connected farming
Today, local farmers, businesses and consumers in Wellington County are keen to leverage connected technologies. However, 57 per cent of households, farms and businesses across the county currently lack high-speed internet service, limiting their opportunities. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Wellington Federation of Agriculture, the majority of producers in Wellington County use technology that requires connectivity, such as sensors, auto steer, GPS and video, but they suffer from slow and unreliable internet connections, high costs and lack of technical support.
That makes rural broadband infrastructure a smart investment.
Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) is already laying the foundation for broadband access in rural communities. In January 2020, the non-profit initiative was awarded $7.5 million from the federal and provincial governments to support four broadband infrastructure projects that will improve high-speed internet to nearly 2,900 homes and businesses in Wellington County.
Our Food Future will build on that. We’re exploring additional possibilities to encourage and enable the expansion of broadband infrastructure, in conjunction with low-power wide-area network LoRaWAN towers which could be used to connect farm sensors and machinery.
As part of this project, we are working with local farmers and computer science researchers at the University of Guelph to design new applications and AI tools using the data and technology assets many farmers already have in place. Using a Living Lab model, we will design technology solutions around the farmer and the farm business and use organizations like our Data Utility to help farmers collaborate and realize greater value from their data.