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WA government launches online remote sensing tool for pastoral management

ZDNet

The Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Landgate have jointly developed a new online pastoral remote sensing (PRS) tool designed to help local farmers and graziers make more informed decisions about land management. The free online resource tool uses satellite imagery from NASA and the Copernicus Australasia Regional Data Hub to provide current and historical estimates of total green biomass, vegetation cover, total dry bass, and cumulative rainfall for every pastoral lease in the state. Western Australia agriculture and food minister Alannah MacTiernaan said the modelled information can be used by pastoralists as a guide for on-ground monitoring and measurement, compare ground cover condition, and observe seasonal trends, which can then all be used to inform decisions around feed budgets and stocking rates, for instance. "This new resource will be particularly useful in dry seasons, informing crucial stock and land management decisions to best manage the condition of both the animals and the rangelands," she said. "This means pastoralists can be more agile in managing their operations, while optimising the condition of the rangelands according to seasonal variability."


WA to spend AU$1 million to divert 1,000 tonnes of e-waste per year

ZDNet

Western Australia has announced it will invest AU$1 million into nine initiatives that are aimed at reducing e-waste. The AU$1 million investment will come out of the state's AU$16.7 million New Industries Fund, and is expected to divert approximately 1,000 tonnes of e-waste annually from landfill. "The selected projects will support the recovery of high value material, while diverting materials which may have presented risks to human health and the environment if not disposed of appropriately," Environment Minister Stephen Dawson added. Among the grant recipients are Curtin University, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and Epichem, which are all set to receive AU$200,000 apiece for their respective projects. Curtin University will use the funds to create a mini plant for recycling and metal recovery from printed circuit boards and integrated circuits; CSIRO will develop "innovative biotechnology" for extracting precious and base metals from e-waste; and Epichem has agreed to test whether oxidative hydrothermal dissolution can break down e-waste to produce a range of useful chemicals.


Machine learning helps to map invasive plant from space

AIHub

Researchers from CSIRO, Charles Darwin University and The University of Western Australia have developed a machine-learning approach that reliably detects invasive gamba grass from high-resolution satellite imagery. Gamba grass is listed as a Weed of National Significance, and is one of five introduced grass species that pose extensive and significant threats to Australia's biodiversity. The perennial grass can grow to four metres in height and forms dense tussocks which can burn as large, hot fires late in the dry season. Mapping where gamba grass occurs is essential to managing it effectively, but northern Australia is so vast and remote that on-the-ground mapping and even airborne detection of the weed is too labour-intensive. So, the researchers turned to high-quality satellite imagery and developed a technique that could help detect and prioritise gamba grass for management.


Digital dystopia: how algorithms punish the poor

#artificialintelligence

All around the world, from small-town Illinois in the US to Rochdale in England, from Perth, Australia, to Dumka in northern India, a revolution is under way in how governments treat the poor. You can't see it happening, and may have heard nothing about it. It's being planned by engineers and coders behind closed doors, in secure government locations far from public view. Only mathematicians and computer scientists fully understand the sea change, powered as it is by artificial intelligence (AI), predictive algorithms, risk modeling and biometrics. But if you are one of the millions of vulnerable people at the receiving end of the radical reshaping of welfare benefits, you know it is real and that its consequences can be serious – even deadly.


Digital dystopia: how algorithms punish the poor

The Guardian

All around the world, from small-town Illinois in the US to Rochdale in England, from the Pacific shore of Perth, Australia, to Dumka in northern India, a revolution is under way in how governments treat the poor. You can't see it happening, and may have heard nothing about it. It's being planned by engineers and coders behind closed doors, in secure government locations far from public view. Only mathematicians and computer scientists fully understand the sea change, powered as it is by artificial intelligence (AI), predictive algorithms, risk modeling and biometrics. But if you are one of the millions of vulnerable people at the receiving end of the radical reshaping of welfare benefits, you know it is real and that its consequences can be serious – even deadly.


AI is expected to drive health care effectiveness, increase jobs in Australia

#artificialintelligence

PERTH, Australia – There is pervasive use of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) across the health care industry in Australia, and excitement is building on the opportunities it offers to technologies and ultimately to patients, Ausbiotech CEO Lorraine Chiroiu told BioWorld. "AI/ML is transforming clinical practice in terms of clinical trials, diagnosis, treatment, decision-making, early detection and preventative health," she said. AI is being used for everything from smart medical records to the systems that help set appointments, to hospital records and diagnostic and pathology tests. It's being used in diagnostics for cancer patients to redirect the best treatment regimens based on a number of patient variables, and patient records can be aggregated so that algorithms can narrow down diagnoses. AI is changing the precision around surgeries like knee replacements by using robotic surgery to diagnose the exact angles, Brandon Capital Managing Director Chris Nave told BioWorld.


NASA, Cisco, and Woodside look to network edge on the moon

ZDNet

Energy company Woodside is partnering with NASA and Cisco to trial network edge and robotics technologies that can be used to operate machinery in remote and harsh environments. Western Australia-based oil and gas extractor Woodside provides 6 percent of all global LNG supply. Operating two floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) facilities, it awarded Cisco after a competitive tendering process with the contract to provide it with collaboration tools and networking between Woodside's on-land offices and offshore facilities. Webex provides the company with the capability to have video-call meetings with "no delay" no matter which facility workers are located at, Woodside CTO Shaun Gregory said -- but the customer relationship has gone beyond the norm and into the experimental. "A lot of our facilities are hundreds of kilometres offshore in hostile areas," Gregory explained during Cisco Live 2019 in Melbourne.


Surf Life Saving Australia extends drone operations this summer

ZDNet

Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) and Westpac have teamed up to deploy 51 drones around Australia during the nation's beach-going months. The drones are intended to provide aerial vision and surveillance to help spot rips and swimmers in distress, and could in future drop buoyancy devices to swimmers, the pair said. Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) President Graham Ford said the drones will be "hugely beneficial". "There is no better time than now to welcome new technologies that can help us protect more Australians," he said. The drones will be located throughout the New South Wales and Queensland coasts; at St Kilda and Frankston in Victoria, as well as a mobile unit; Semaphore Beach and Christies Beach in South Australia; at Frederick Henry Bay in Tasmania; at Cottesloe, Fremantle, Meelup, Smiths Beach, Secret Harbour, City Beach, Trigg, and Mullaloo in Western Australia; and one unit in Darwin.


Australian government invests AU$6m in EV charging network

ZDNet

The Australian government has announced a AU$6 million investment in an "ultra-rapid" electric vehicle (EV) charging network powered by renewable energy across the nation under the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). According to the federal government, the EV charging network will be deployed around Sydney and Melbourne; between Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, and Adelaide; and across Western Australia. Euroa, in Victoria, and Barnawartha North, outside Albury Wodonga on the New South Wales-Victorian border, will be the first sites to gain charging areas thanks to a grant from the Victorian government. The AU$15 million EV charging network is being built by Chargefox, with plans to develop 21 charging stations across the nation, each around 200km apart. The charging stations are designed to provide a range of 400km or up to 80 percent capacity within 15 minutes of charging, with the network to be worth AU$15 million.


Senate committee considers EV boost to Australian health and mining

ZDNet

The public inquiry into the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in Australia has heard that the mining sector and the health of Australians would benefit if there were more of them in the market. During the inquiry's second hearing on Friday in Canberra, Doctors for the Environment Australia, the Pilbara Metals Group, and the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) gave evidence to the committee. In a report produced by the AMEC, it was estimated that the lithium value chain -- which includes raw materials through to cells and battery packs -- could increase from $165 billion to $2 trillion by 2025 if more EVs were to be introduced down under. The chief executive of AMEC Warren Pearce said that rather than just exporting lithium, Australia should also focus on processing the minerals and manufacturing electric vehicle batteries, according to the ABC. AMEC says that Western Australia alone mines 60 percent of the world's supply of lithium used for the production of EV batteries.