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Slow internet holds back state-of the-art rescue tower

UP FOR AN AWARD: The architects who designed Ballina's Marine Rescue tower have entered the building in an award.
UP FOR AN AWARD: The architects who designed Ballina's Marine Rescue tower have entered the building in an award. Graham Broadhead

SAFETY cameras are among the many state-of-the-art technologies installed at the recently-built Ballina Marine Rescue Tower to monitor one the most dangerous bar crossings in the state.

But unlike their Tweed Heads counterparts, who could live stream footage of sea conditions at Kingscliff and Point Danger, a lack of internet meant the vision couldn't be accessed by the public online.

Marine Rescue NSW regional operations manager John Murray said Ballina volunteers monitored the footage from two cameras watching the Richmond River and Ballina bar.

But because the $2.3 million tower's network is powered by a 4G internet connection, it doesn't have the capacity to share the vision live on its website.

 

MArine Rescue tower volunteer Meg Luckie starts operations in the new tower in Ballina.
MArine Rescue tower volunteer Meg Luckie starts operations in the new tower in Ballina. Marc Stapelberg

Mr Murray said Telstra told him the company could only hook up the ADSL or National Broadband Network within a particular radius from its exchange point, and the new marine rescue tower is outside that zone by a mere 50m.

Prior to the new tower being relocated and built late last year, Mr Murray said the old tower received very slow ADSL as it was just within the connection range.

He said alternatives assessed to provide the tower with a better connection were deemed too expensive.

"It'd be a great thing (to live stream bar conditions to the public) but unfortunately technology has let us down in 2017," Mr Murray said.

 

SET TO GO: The old leaning Marine Rescue tower at North Wall in Ballina is set to be demolished this week as volunteers moved into their new headquarters. Inset: Volunteer Meg Luckie at work in the new tower. Photo Graham Broadhead / Ballina Shire Advocate
SET TO GO: The old leaning Marine Rescue tower at North Wall in Ballina is set to be demolished this week as volunteers moved into their new headquarters. Inset: Volunteer Meg Luckie at work in the new tower. Photo Graham Broadhead / Ballina Shire Advocate Graham Broadhead

"We need to a have a decent (connection) to run all the technology (at the tower)."

He said while the 4G met current needs it was not the permanent network the tower would rely on in the long term.

At this stage, he said Ballina Marine Rescue Tower could only wait until the NBN was rolled out with the hope it would provide a faster connection to enable the camera feeds to be live streamed.

The NBN Co website said the network was slated to be connected in Ballina between July and December 2018.

Topics:  ballina bar boating marine rescue ballina northern rivers community northern rivers emergency services


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