Uni to study social impact of Telstra communications blackout

RMIT University’s Hamilton campus has launched an independent study into the social impacts of the Telstra communications blackout. 

The campus’ regional and rural futures research group will carry out the study, which will gauge the extent of the impact the blackout had on communities big and small. 

Research group members and Hamilton business representatives got the ball rolling yesterday, meeting at the campus to discuss the direct impacts on businesses. 

RMIT Hamilton senior manager Dr Kaye Scholfield said they were interested in recording the positive and negative effects of the outage. 

“We want to know if businesses and individuals were able to go about their normal business,” Dr Scholfield told The Standard. 

“How did they adapt and in the event of any further occurrence, what can we learn from this?

“There is a heavy reliance on centralised systems, so what we want to find out is what do we do when they break down?

“While we don’t necessarily anticipate something of this magnitude happening again, we are keen to get people’s responses now, while they are fresh in their minds.” 

Dr Scholfield said there had been some mixed responses to the breakdown, with some people mentioning how stressful the time had been, while others said the break from constant communication had been refreshing. 

Hamilton Regional Business Association executive officer Jane Barrie said the effects had been felt across the region and were particularly bad for businesses in the lead-up to the festive season. 

“We had a 24-hour sale in Hamilton on the 23rd,” she said. 

“So it had a big impact on that. Businesses couldn’t use Eftpos and people didn’t have access to cash.”

Ms Barrie said business had been happy with Telstra’s response to the disaster. 

“People have been very impressed with the amount of information they have been providing and the speed at which services have been restored,” she said. 

“The big test will be compensation and how quickly that can be processed.” 

To take part in the study, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/outage 

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