The Cloud is called “Life Changing” in PNG, South Australia

Amid difficulties in securing decent connectivity and software options in remote towns in Papua New Guinea, a project run by South Australia’s Mt. Barker Council is helping users do their daily work through cloud-computing initiatives that are said to be “life changing.”

The Mt. Barker District Council is running a mentoring program in which the City of Kokopo Council is being provided resources that will help improve its financial systems, thereby improving corporate governance in the council. This Commonwealth Local Government Forum has made the project possible through funding from AusAID. The project began implementation in December of 2011.

Kokopo is home to 26,000 citizens, and is the administrative centre of New East Britain. Sitting between the Solomon seas and Bismarck, this capital city is some 1,000 Km away from Port Moresby. As such, it is among the most remote isolated of Papua New Guinea’s cities.

Mt. Barker District Council General Manager of Corporate Services, David Peters, says cloud computing is providing a “life changing” link between towns in this city, considering the difficulties administrators face in securing a decent network connection and software for use in its operations.

Kokopo has relied solely on non-wired broadband connections, since wireline connections are not viable given the distance, and given copper wires’ likelihood of being stolen. Likewise, administrators have found it difficult to install servers and software, with IT services being expensive.

In an interview with IT Wire, peters decried the fact that people dig up and sell copper wires in PNG. PCs are likewise virus-riddled. Power-supply is also unstable. Meanwhile, IT support in the city is very costly.

With cloud computing initiatives, though, Mt. Barker is now assisting Kokopo to remain financially stable. The cloud-based systems have helped the city administration improve its tax collection rates and other activities like garbage collection, and health services.

Mt. Barker has partnered with an Australian telecommunications provider in provisioning a Sotfware-as-a-service (SaaS) portal, With regular monthly subscription fees rather than a one-time purchase fee, the cloud platform provides live updates, which removes the need to purchase software whenever there are major releases, or to download updates and patches for improved security.