The deployment of new drones, cells on wheels, and vehicles with built-in Wi-Fi will form part of the New South Wales government's AU$57.4 million investment into arming firefights with new equipment. Under what the state government is calling the connected firefighter package, firefighters will have access to drones that can provide images and data from incidents in real-time that can be used to assist in incident planning, and for chemical and gas detection; cells on wheels equipped with communication technology to provide power, especially in remote parts of the state without coverage; vehicles with built-in Wi-Fi that can provide mobile 4G network in remote locations where satellite connection is limited. Fire and Rescue NSW mobile command centres will also receive upgrades to ensure there is communication between incident management teams and firefighters during incidents. "What is apparent is that our emergency services are entering a tech boom, one which rightly puts NSW ahead of the pack this bushfire season," Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliot said in a statement on Friday. "These assets will ensure our first responders are safe as they enter dangerous and volatile fire grounds to protect their communities."
The New South Wales government has announced it will put a cap on the number of unvaccinated people flying into the state from overseas. From November 1, only 210 unvaccinated people coming from overseas will be allowed to arrive in the state per week. For those who are unvaccinated, they will be required to undergo a two-week hotel quarantine. The New South Wales government was trialling home quarantine for people arriving in Australia based around a mobile app using geolocation and face recognition, but NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism, and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said implementing such a measure at scale would be "immensely challenging". "There is absolutely no reason why we should take health staff or police staff or other public servants away from their frontline duties for them to monitor people in quarantine," Ayres said.
Let me begin with a disclaimer. I am no expert in Australian law. However, it seems to me that the Australian Federal Court (FCA) has made a series of missteps in the DABUS case (Thaler v Commissioner of Patents  FCA 879) that led it to conclude that an AI-driven system can be an inventor. As similar DABUS cases are currently pending before the European Patent Office and the UK Court of Appeal and a number of companies employ AI in their inventive endeavours, I find it relevant to discuss the FCA's argumentation. DABUS is an AI-driven system which is currently on a world tour of courts and patent offices with the claim to have invented the following subject matter: food container and devices and methods for attracting enhanced attention.
The South Australian government has teamed up with Flinders University and conservation charity Koala Life to use drones and facial recognition technology to count, identify, and re-identify koalas. The non-invasive koala monitoring technique will be used as part of a study on koalas at Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges to understand their numbers, movements, behaviour, and physiology, and assess whether koalas will show any signs of stress. "Drone use in animal research is used a lot across Australia, especially in Queensland to monitor koalas. Until now, potential behaviour and physiological impacts haven't been extensively researched so we are one of the few groups investigating this," Flinders University researcher Dr Diane Colombelli-Négrel said. "Through this research, we'll be able to determine if this method really is low impact on koalas and whether it is suitable to use over the long-term into the future. "Koalas are declining in parts of Australia.
The NSW government has announced the state will undergo a trial of home-based quarantine for people arriving in Australia based around a mobile app using geolocation and face recognition. The pilot will be jointly operated by NSW Health and NSW Police and entails a seven-day home-based quarantine program for around 175 people. It will be run across a four-week period and commence sometime this month. The app will use geolocation and face recognition technology to monitor whether a person is complying with the state's quarantine rules. It will also provide people with a testing schedule and symptom checker.
Microsoft has announced plans to cement Azure Space as a key player in the growing Australian space market through new partnerships with Nokia, the University of Adelaide's Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML), and the South Australian government. Microsoft launched its Azure Space initiative last October. Azure Space was developed by the tech giant to position Azure in the space and satellite-related connectivity and compute part of the cloud market. Azure Space Australia's operations are based in Adelaide's Lot Fourteen and is headed up by former US Air Force colonel Lynn McDonald. On Thursday, the tech giant said it inked an agreement with Nokia and the South Australian government to build communications, connectivity, and advanced data processing solutions featuring satellite imagery, AI analytics, and 5G-based technology that could be used for various applications such as rail safety, mine automation, defence, and public sector use cases.
The government of South Australia has implemented a new policy requiring Australians to use an app with facial recognition software and geolocation to prove that they are abiding by a 14-day quarantine for travel within the country. While a conservative policy expert described the policy as "Orwellian," he told Fox News that it represents an improvement over the current COVID-19 policy. Australia has banned international travel unless residents have a permit to leave the country. The country has also severely restricted travel between the six states of Australia. Residents must spend 14 days in quarantine upon return.
Western Australia is preparing to launch its first locally designed and built space satellite. Developed by students and engineers at Curtin University's Space Science and Technology Centre, the Binar-1 CubeSat has been designed to locate and produce high resolution digital mapping of resources on the Moon's surface. The Binar-1 is scheduled to take-off from Cape Canaveral, United States on August 28, as part of the SpaceX CRS-23 commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. Following its launch, the spacecraft will then be deployed into low-earth orbit from the International Space Station. According to Curtin University, the objective of Binar-1 is to test all the critical spacecraft systems, while the two cameras on board will aim to capture images of the Western Australia coastline and relay them back to Earth.
The Australian government announced on Sunday it was helping fund 19 5G projects around Australia to the tune of AU$20 million. Rheinmetall Defence Australia led the way, gaining almost AU$1.5 million for a 5G remote-controlled firefighting tank. "Rheinmetall is developing an autonomous/remote control'Firefighting Tank' (called the Fire Tank), which is a purpose-built firefighting vehicle capable of traversing extremely dangerous terrains to support rescue, path clearing and firefighting missions," the government described. "This project will investigate using low-band 5G to support long-range remote control of these vehicles. The project is focused on investigating the feasibility of this technology and development of a drone-based 5G range extension capability."
Representatives from Google have told an Australian Parliamentary committee looking into foreign interference that the country has not been the target of coordinated influence campaigns. "We've not seen the sort of foreign coordinated foreign influence campaigns targeted at Australia that we have with other jurisdictions, including the United States," Google director of law enforcement and information security Richard Salgado said. "Some of the disinformation campaigns that originate outside Australia, even if not targeting Australia, may affect Australia as collateral ... but not as a target of the campaign. "We have found no instances of foreign coordinated influence campaigns targeting Australia." While acknowledging campaigns that reach Australia do exist, he reiterated they have not specifically targeted Australia. "Some of these campaigns are broad enough that the disinformation could be, sort of, divisive in any jurisdiction in which it is consumed, even if it's not targeting that jurisdiction," Salgado told the Select Committee on Foreign Interference Through Social Media. "Google services, YouTube in particular, which is where we have seen most of these kinds of campaigns run, isn't really very well designed for the purpose of targeting groups to create the division that some of the other platforms have suffered, so it isn't actually all that surprising that we haven't seen this on our services." Appearing alongside Salgado on Friday was Google Australia and New Zealand director of government affairs and public policy Lucinda Longcroft, who told the committee her organisation has been in close contact with the Australian government as it looks to prevent disinformation from emerging leading up the next federal election. Additionally, the pair said that Google undertakes a "constant tuning" of the artificial intelligence and machine learning tech used. It said it also constantly adjusts policies and strategies to avoid moments of surprise, where Google could find itself unable to handle a shift in attacker strategy or shift in volume of attack. Appearing earlier in the week before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, Google VP of product membership and partnerships Diana Layfield said her company does not monetise data from Google Pay in Australia. "I suppose you could argue that there are non-transaction data aspects -- so people's personal profile information," she added. "If you sign up for an app, you have to have a Google account.