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Manuka set to trial smart parking in early 2016

Thursday, 01 October 2015 10:54 Published in Transport

parking

 

In an effort to continue a city-wide transport reform, the ACT Government will implement a 12 month smart parking trial in Manuka beginning early next year. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said in a statement “One of the priorities for my government is a comprehensive reform of transport in Canberra – from light rail and buses to better roads and active travel”. This will now include the smart parking trial which was first outlined in the Government’s Digital Canberra Action Plan 2014-2018.

Smart parking aims to reduce congestion in town centres and also save drivers time with the use of smart phone apps and real time traffic signs. Information regarding parking congestion will be captured by in-ground sensors which will then be relayed to smart phones and intelligent traffic signs. Drivers are able to use this information to determine where their nearest available parking space is. Manuka’s local retailers may also see advantages during the trial as smart parking is predicted to increase turnover of parking spaces.

The trial was originally set to commence in 2015 but was set back due feasibility issues regarding the launch of a free WiFi network in the precinct. The WiFi network is an integral part of the smart parking system and will be launched before the trial, however a date is yet to be announced.

There are some potential down sides to the smart parking trial for users including the possibility of peak and off-peak prices for parking. There is also a risk that users will be distracted by the mobile application if they look at their phones whilst they are driving. However user will be encouraged to plan their journey before they start driving and make use of the real-time traffic signs.

The ACT Government will judge the success of the trial after the 12 month period. If the results are positive, smart parking may be expanded across Canberra as part of a five year implementation plan linking it to free WiFi networks.

UK to test electric car charging lanes

Monday, 21 September 2015 00:00 Published in Transport

recharging-lane

 

The British Government is set to trial new road technology that would allow electric car users to charge their vehicles whilst they are driving. One of the major complaints with electric cars at the moment is that they just don’t go as far on a full tank as regular cars. Charging stations are becoming more frequent but these still require vehicles to be stationery in order to recharge.

The 18 month trial, set to begin later this year, will see cables buried underneath specialised charging lanes which will generate an electromagnetic field. Vehicles will also be fitted with wireless receivers in order to pick up the energy and convert it to electric power. Roads will be able to detect approaching electric cars thanks to a communications system so that the process can begin before the car has actually arrived.

A similar trial is already in place in South Korea which sees electric shuttle buses able to recharge as they travel along a 12km stretch of road. In this system cables are also placed underneath roads but generate electricity from a process called Shaped Magnetic Field in Resonance.

This is a major project for the British Government who are committing £500 million over the next 5 years. This will also include an increase in the number of charging stations across the country so that one can be found every 20 miles. "Vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever increasing pace and we're committed to supporting the growth of ultra-low emissions vehicles on England's motorways," said the government's chief highways engineer, Mike Wilson.

There are sceptics for this kind of technology who believe that the cost of such a project would be too high and that it may not be economically viable in the long run. Also that with the continuous improvements being made in battery technology there may never be a need for recharging roads.

turnbull

 

Australia’s newest Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has released details regarding a reshuffling of cabinet, one week after he announced to the Australian public that he would be challenging former Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the leadership. In what Mr Turnbull has labelled “a 21st century government and a ministry for the future,” there have been a number of changes including an increase in the number of women in cabinet, reshuffling of positions and dumping of several senior ministers.

Malcolm Turnbull, who became Austalia’s 29th Prime Minister last Monday (14th September), is the fifth Prime Minister Australia has seen in the past 5 years (including Labor’s Kevid Rudd twice). A multimillionaire and former investment banker, lawyer and technology entrepreneur, Malcolm Turnbull is seen as a favourable choice for Prime Minister by many in the business community.

One of the first challenges faced by the new Prime Minister is to mend party divisions following the ousting of Tony Abbott. According to Mr Turnbull "One of the great challenges for any leader is to ensure that there is renewal. That…we are able to bring up new talent, new faces, into leadership positions over time”. Some of the major changes to cabinet include the promotions of Scott Morrison and Maris Payne who have been appointed treasurer and defence minister respectively.

Scott Morrison, who has previously served as immigration minister and social services minister, replaces former treasurer Joe Hockey who recently announced his resignation from parliament after nearly 20 years of service. Mr Hockey is expected to replace Kim Beazley as Australia’s Ambassador to the United States in Washington.

The appointment of Maris Payne as defence minister was perhaps one of the biggest surprises in the cabinet reshuffling as many expected former education minister and now industry, innovation and science minister Chris Pyne to receive the role. Maris Payne becomes Australia’s first female defence minister and is one of five women in the new cabinet. She replaces Kevin Andrews in the role who served as defence minister for less than one year.

Other women to be appointed new roles in the cabinet include Michaelia Cash as minister for employment, women and the public service and Kelly O’Dwyer as minister for small business and assistant treasurer with responsibility for tax reform. They join Deputy Party leader and foreign minister Julie Bishop and minister for health and minister sport Sussan Ley as women who retained their roles.

Mr Turnbull said of the changes to cabinet “…this is a process of renewal as you will have gathered there are some very big changes in the Cabinet,” also that there are “Very big changes to meet very big challenges to help all of us seize very big opportunities."

3D Printers can build 10 houses in 24 hours

Friday, 18 September 2015 11:55 Published in GOVERNMENT NEWS

3d print

 

A private Chinese inventor has discovered a way to build 10 houses in just one day. Ma Yihe uses a series of four 3D printers, each are 10 x 6.6 metres in size, which precisely construct these full sized single story homes layer by layer. The printers use a mixture of refined construction waste and cement to build the walls of the houses which have been designed carefully to ensure safety and practicality.

Ma Yihe has also constructed his company headquarters and research centre using the 3D printers. His office covers an area of 10 square meters and was constructed in about a month. Ma Yihe does admit however that the technology currently faces limitations as the 3D printers are not yet capable of constructing the roofs of these buildings.

Traditional building methods, including mining for raw materials, can be damaging to the environment. The 3D printing method uses waste from demolished buildings and industrial waste and construction material which can often simply be dumped. As well as being safer for the natural environment, 3D printing can also create a safer work environment for builders.

The houses constructed using the 3D printing method are produced for around US$5,000. This makes them a viable option for low cost housing in poverty stricken areas. In fact Ma Yihe’s company has ambitions to upgrade the poor housing conditions in some Chinese villages using the 3D printed homes. Not only this, he hopes that one day his 3D printers will be able to construct skyscrapers! For more informatio see the video below.

 

 

aquarium

 

The Port Adelaide inner harbour is a popular tourist destination in South Australia. Visitors are able to spot dolphins on a river cruise, grab a hidden treasure at the market and learn about nautical history at the maritime museum. Now it appears that a world class aquarium, right in the inner harbour, may be on the cards. “We have so many dolphins down the Port River and we’ve even had a whale in the Port River so to me it makes sense we have some special marine centre” says Port Mayor Gary Johanson. Local businesses are also right behind the idea and believe it would drive up tourism in the area.

Bringing an aquarium to Port Adelaide was an idea that was first flagged in a 2011 Port Adelaide Enfield Council-commissioned study as a potential tourist development in the area but the idea never got off the ground. But perhaps now with the State Government’s plans to sell 40ha of waterfront land in the inner harbour, the Port Adelaide aquarium idea may have legs as a means of stimulating investment from developers. It is hoped that the sale of 6 key waterfront will generate around $2 billion from developers.

The Sea Life Aquarium in Sydney’s Darling Harbour sees around 1.2 million visitors pass through its doors each year and holds 13,000 animals from 700 different species. Mr Johanson says of a Port Adelaide aquarium, “It would be similar to one at Darling Harbour in Sydney, just on a smaller scale.” He also adds that an aquarium would be a great education resource for children.

The idea for a Port Adelaide aquarium comes after comments from Tourism Minister Leon Bignell late last year suggesting a large seafood market, also similar to that found in Sydney, would help rejuvenate the area and boost tourism.

Mr Johanson hopes to meet with Mr Bignell to discuss plans for an aquarium and will aim to form a partnership with the State Government in order to raise private funding for the project.

cotsbot

 

The Crown of Thorns Starfish, also known as COTS, which has been devastating the Great Barrier Reef for the past 40 years may have just met its match. Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have developed a robot specifically designed to detect and eliminate COTS on the Great Barrier Reef. The COTSbot, as it’s known, is a small submarine type robot equipped with a unique underwater detection system (see below video). This allows it to identify COTS on the reef and proceed to eliminate them through a pneumatic injection arm filled with a fatal dose of bile salts.

COTS have been identified as one of two major causes for the decline of coral in the Great Barrier Reef. The other being tropical cyclones. The invertebrates eat healthy corals and in the right conditions, their numbers can reach plague proportions.

Currently the threat of COTS is being tackled by human divers who search the reef for the pest and inject them by hand. However there aren’t enough divers out there to keep COTS numbers down across the entire protected area. Weather conditions and time limitations can also effect the efficiency of human divers.

The COTSbot has the ability to dive for 8 hours at a time and deliver 200 injections. It can work in any weather conditions, day and night, and could be used in fleets of 10-100 COTSbots at a time. Matthew Dunbabin from QUT’s Institute for Future Environments sees the COTSbot as a “first responder for ongoing eradication programs – deployed to eliminate the bulk of COTS in any area, with divers following a few days later to hit the remaining COTS.”

“Its computer system is backed by some serious computational power so COTSbot can think for itself in the water,” said Feras Dayoub of QUT’s Science and Engineering Faculty and Australian Centre for Robotic Vision. “If the robot is unsure that something is actually a COTS, it takes a photo of the object to be later verified by a human, and that human feedback is incorporated into the robot’s memory bank.”

Trials with the COTSbot on the Great Barrier Reef will begin later this month which will involve scientists verifying each COTS identification that the robot makes. Autonomous trials are scheduled to commence in December. Assuming the trials are successful, researchers hope to raise funds so that COTSbots can be deployed as a real solution to fighting COTS and protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

 

COTS Detection System

 

perth

 

An end to the mining boom is believed to be a major cause for driving the Perth housing market down. According to the Core Logic RP Data Hedonic Home Value Index for August, Perth suffered a 1.3 percent slide in house values for the quarter. This was only shaded by Canberra, the worst performing capital city, which saw a 1.7 percent fall. The best performing capitals were Sydney and Adelaide which had 1.1 and 0.7 percent rises respectively.

The combined capital growth for Australia in the past year stands at 10.2 percent. However a closer look at the data would show that this figure is largely due to stand out performers Sydney and Melbourne. Annual growth rate data shows that there is a large gap between leading city Sydney and the rest of country. Sydney’s annual growth rate of 17.6 percent put it way in front of the next highest growth rate, 10.2 percent reached by Melbourne. Core Logic RP Data head of research, Tim Lawless, said that Sydney’s high annual growth rate has come after strong performances in the past 2 years. “Since the beginning of 2009, (Sydney) has recorded a cumulative capital gain of 76 percent,” Mr Lawless said. This equates to an approximate increase in value of a typical Sydney home of $309,000 since 2009.

The other capitals to have positive growth for year were Brisbane (3.9 percent), Adelaide (1.8 percent) and Hobart (1.5 percent). Perth’s negative growth rate of 1.8 percent for the year was topped only by Darwin’s 4.6 percent slide. According to Mr Lawless “Darwin and Perth have certainly felt the brunt of the downturn in resources investment”. The current market conditions in Perth and Darwin are expected to continue over the next year.

Unemployment

 

The Federal Government’s Work for the Dole program could give rural councils around Australia the helping hand they need as well as aid unemployment. The program which came into effect in July has been rolled out in several rural areas of South Australia and currently involves around 4,700 people. Work for the Dole aims to give long-term unemployed people the skills, accreditation and experience to get back into the work force. It is also hoped that the program will boost the self-confidence of those who have been out of full-time employment.

Changes to welfare entitlements are a key part of the Federal Government’s $6.8 billion Job Active program. The Government has previously said that it wants to end the “age of entitlement”. These changes now mean that people aged 18-29 on income support will need to work at least 25 hours per week on an approved project for 6 months each year. Individuals aged 30-49 will need to work 15 hours and those aged over 50 can volunteer on the projects.

There were many critics to the changes which were first announced in the 2014 budget. However it would appear that cash-strapped rural councils are now, and will continue, seeing the benefits of programs such as Work for Dole. Mid Murray Council chief executive Russell Peate says that "It's a positive thing for projects councils can't get to, giving back to the community and for the participants to be more job ready".

Recently the Mid Murray Palmer Cemetery, in South Australia, had a group of Work for the Dole participants help to bring the property from disrepair by clearing overgrown weeds and repairing fences. “It gives the guys an incentive to get up in the morning, be prepared for what they need for the day and it gives them drive to prove themselves and to work for somebody” says Ben Wallacetown who is the Mid Murray Work for the Dole supervisor.

The Work for the Dole program will involve 55,000 people in Australia and could be a key method of driving down unemployment nationally. The Federal Government will provide grants to councils to run projects in office administration, IT, retail, hospitality, the environment and restoring historic buildings.

earth

 

It appears Samsung may be the latest contender in the race to provide worldwide internet coverage. In a report released by the technology giant, Samsung believes that a network of some 4,600 micro satellites orbiting the earth will provide a means of bringing the internet to some of the poorer and more remote sections of the globe.

Aside from a global network, the micro satellite system would also provide a solution to an internet congestion problem which could reach a head in the coming decade. It is predicted by the year 2028 there will be around 5 billion internet users worldwide using at least 1 zettabyte of data per month. This is 1 billion terabytes. The micro satellites would be positioned much closer to Earth than the current communication satellites which are around 35,000 kilometres from the Earth’s surface. Having the Samsung satellite in Low Earth Orbit would increase the speed of data transmissions and reduce delay. The number of 4,600 is required to provide constant worldwide coverage as the satellites orbit around the Earth. This way no one satellite is dedicated to any particular part of the Earth.

As mentioned earlier Samsung would be joining a race to provide global internet coverage which includes a number of other giant companies. One is SpaceX who recently received an investment of US$1 billion from Google and Fidelity which is believed to be in support of its own internet satellite program. Another is OneWeb, which was initially backed by Virgin and Qualcomm, but has now raised around US$500 million from investors including Airbus Group, Hughes Network Systems and The Coca-Cola Company. The funding is said to be in aid of OneWeb’s space telescope system which aims to provide internet to the masses by 2019. There have also been other ventures more closer to the Earth’s surface such as Google’s internet balloons in Sri Lanka and Facebook’s internet drones.

Providing poorer and remote areas of the world with a reliable internet source would likely have a positive effect on a companies’ global brand and image. But perhaps a larger source of motivation for a company to provide worldwide internet coverage would be the opportunities presented in being able to promote its own products and services and that of its investors.

Samsung is yet to announce any further plans regarding the satellite network.

nbn

 

A joint media release from NBN Co and Senator Mathias Cormann earlier this week highlighted an updated corporate plan for the company in charge with delivering high-speed broadband to Australians. The 2016 Corporate Plan indicated that by the year 2020, all homes and businesses in Australia will have access to the NBN (National Broadband Network).

Currently only around 1 in 10 Australian premises have access to the NBN. However the plan shows that by June 2018, around 75% of premises will have access. NBN Co will continue to prioritise areas which currently have little to no broadband connectivity during the rollout. Last year this figure equated to around 1.6 million premises.

The NBN rollout footprint will nearly double every year for the next 3 years according the corporate plan. NBN Co will be seeking to double its construction workforce in order to stay on schedule with the plan. This will involve educating and reskilling around 4,500 workers.

There is no specific broadband technology favoured by the government. This gives NBN Co the freedom to choose the best mix of technologies to complete the rollout as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. A multi-technology mix (MTM) approach has a peak funding requirement of $46 billion to $56 billion according to the updated plan and will be completed by 2020. This is an increase from the December 2013 Strategic Review forecast of $41 billion. However the MTM approach is still estimated to be around $30 billion less than an all fibre to the premises (FTTP) approach which has a peak funding requirement of $74 billion to $84 billion.

Being one of Australia’s largest and most complex infrastructure projects ever, there are still risks that the peak funding requirement will rise given the possibility of certain scenarios which are modelled in the plan. The media release outlines a commitment by the Government to complete the NBN rollout as quickly and at as low a cost to the taxpayer as possible.

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