The Northern Territory’s Department of Primary Industry and Resources CIO Rowan Dollar is departing the role at the end of this month.
Dollar announced he was leaving the department in an email to staff on Monday, in which he confirmed his next job would be based in Adelaide.
“It has been a great pleasure working with you all and I thank you for the good faith and trust you showed often following me into the technological unknown. Solving problems is where innovation is born and I thank you for the opportunities to be part of it,” he wrote in the email sighted by CIO Australia.
During his time in the most senior IT position within the NT Government, Dollar has been behind a number of innovative technology roll-outs, as well as a department-wide Office 365 and Azure deployment.
Among them has been a project to provide LoRaWAN network capability to remote areas, in collaboration with an IoT provider and Charles Darwin University, and the use of facial recognition technology, backed with machine learning techniques, to monitor fish stocks in protected reef areas.
Although the Fisheries project “picked up the media attention and numerous awards” it was the department’s work to improve connectivity in remote farms that Dollar said he was most proud of.
Working with a small start-up from NSW, the team solved the problem – patent application pending – of ‘last mile’ connectivity for remote residents in northern Australia.
“Utilising satellite or 3G or fibre connectivity, we are able to now give remote residents long range Wi-Fi connectivity – hence access to voice and data – from base to mobile extending over hundreds and thousands of hectares on a ‘sleepy’, wake on demand solar powered network,” Dollar said.
“The Wi-Fi project with the research farms that will have the largest impact on lives in the NT. The ability to make phone calls and use internet services in the ‘middle of nowhere’ for relatively little cost is already changing lives up here,” he added.
Dollar also played a key role within the Darwin Innovation Hub, where he served as AgTech expert-in-residence. He was named as one of Australia’s top CIOs in the CIO50 awards late last year.
“It has been a hard slog but the feedback from staff…has made it worthwhile. The NT is a different place from a tech viewpoint to the place I landed in three and a half years ago,” he said.
Dollar’s last day at the department will be January 25.