OzTech: Innovation centres in NSW, WA; More AIIA courses; Optus repurposes 3G spectrum; Melbourne surveys residents on AI, IoT, 5G; Drones count flying foxes

OzTech Roundup is Computerworld Australia’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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CSIRO and NSW government sign 5-year innovation partnership

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has signed a five-year innovation partnership with the New South Wales government to drive digital technology, manufacturing, and health innovation across NSW-based hubs.

CSIRO said this will enable it to continue to consolidate its Sydney operations, focusing on advanced manufacturing, quantum technologies, aerospace, defence, and agribusiness at the future Bradfield Aerotropolis, digital focus at Tech Central in Eveleigh, and health capabilities in the Westmead Health and Innovation District.

The partnership will connect NSW business and research community with Australia’s largest commercialisation network, as well as access to world-class expertise in emerging fields like genetics, materials, quantum, synthetic biology, and space.

Innovation hub opens in Western Australia

The Albany Innovation iHub in Western Australia was launched on 23 April to support and provide advice to emerging entrepreneurs.

Access to space, technology, and support to progress ideas to implementation will be available to all entrepreneurs, from local students to business owners. The centre has offices and computers, and it can accommodate as many as 60 people. It also offers entrepreneurs access to mentors and resources across a range of industries.

Employment and training not-for-profit organisation Breakthru WA have partnered with not-for-profit training organisation WorkLink WA and the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry to deliver the hub with financial support from local government.

BreakthruWA will deliver eight projects that include collaborative sessions, a program for senior secondary school students to take their ideas forward, a digital business program, a ‘she codes’ program for women, a hackathon, a pitch night, and a food innovation festival.

AIIA increases number of courses available through its online platform

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has more than 3,000 courses available to members on its Skills Hub, an online portal that provides members with access to IT vocational and tertiary training at discounted prices.

Courses from RMIT, University of Queensland, University of Sydney, TAFE NSW, IBM, and Amazon Web Services now join the originally offered courses from the Queensland University of Technology, Central Queensland University, QLD TAFE, and Microsoft.

The AIIA claims “hundreds” of active participants in the courses. The industry association is in conversation with 15 universities and TAFEs and plans to offer more than 5,000 courses by 2022.

Optus repurposes 3G spectrum to improve 4G and 5G services

Optus has announced it will repurpose its 2100MHz spectrum, currently supporting its 3G technology, to boost its 4G and 5G technologies.

The work is set to commence in April 2022. It means Optus will no longer offer a dual-band 3G network, instead offering 3G services via its 900MHz spectrum band only. Customers with a 2100MHz-only 3G device will need to upgrade their device. Also affected are customers using the 2100MHz band from carriers that use the Optus Wholesale as their network.

City of Melbourne consults residents on the use of 5G, AI, and IoT

The City of Melbourne and Emerging Technologies Research Lab (ETLab) at Monash University have partnered to find the best way to engage with residents and understand how they perceive, value, and use technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and internet of things (IoT) in the city centre.

The council and the university noted that despite the benefits of the use of such technologies, they are often put in place without consulting residents. To help address that lack of citizen engagement. from 26 April to 2 May, local residents were able to interact with each emerging technology by scanning QR codes dotted throughout Argyle Square that explained the role of each technology.

By focusing on awareness, perception, and partnership, ETLab expects to provide important insights into how people perceive, value, and use emerging technologies in the urban environment.

After this week of interaction, a report will be published and ultimately these emerging technologies are expected to be permanently available around Melbourne’s CBD as a result of local residents’ feedback.

Drones help counting flying-foxes

Drones with thermal cameras are being used to help count grey-headed flying foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus), a species listed as vulnerable to extinction due to population decline.

Scientists from Western Sydney University and the Taronga Conservation Society have published a new method in the journal Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation for detecting and counting flying foxes in tree canopies.

This method involves using the images captured by the drones combined with advanced image-detection techniques using machine-learning and computer-vision methods to semi-automate flying-fox counts from the drone-acquired imagery, which is then compared to numbers counted by on-the-ground counters.

Currently, these counts can take place during the day, when the flying foxes are roosting and usually static, or during the evening when they leave the roost to forage on nectar and fruit. However, conducting ground surveys is challenging as the area where they usually can be found isn’t always the most accessible to people.

The research found that drones can provide accurate information and precise measures of colony abundance reducing the amount of human effort.

“We demonstrated that drone-acquired thermal imagery can be used to accurately and precisely quantify the abundance of flying foxes in a roost, and that semi-automated methods for counting flying foxes in thermal imagery are comparable to human assessments in their accuracy”, said co-author Matthias Boer, an associate professor.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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