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New network senses Tassie’s potential

World-first online sensor network

A world-first online sensor network is set to drive economic, social and environmental benefits for Tasmania.

The Sensing Tasmania (SenseT) network will mesh together historical, spatial and real-time data and make it available through the web to the community.

An investment of $3.6 million was announced today by the Federal Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, Mr Simon Crean, and the Premier, Ms Lara Giddings as part of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA).

The funding will help SenseT become a sustainable infrastructure operating across Tasmania within five years, with the aim of operating as an independent, self-financing body within 10 years.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen said Tasmania is the ideal place for such a network.

“SenseT will help us realise the true economic and productivity potential of the NBN,” he said.

“Through its collection and analysis of data, SenseT will help us tackle the complex challenges facing modern society, whether that is improving harvest yields, responding to natural disasters, delivering more effective energy usage, or enabling governments to deliver more effective services.

“It will do this by analysing information collected from the real-world, and making that available in an understandable way.

“The University of Tasmania is proud to be partnering with organisations locally, nationally and internationally in SenseT to deliver a project of unprecedented scale and ambition.”

The island state has a spread of urban, World Heritage wilderness and rural areas enclosing waterways and infrastructure. Never before has the potential to create a future with geo-located, real-time information been demonstrated on this scale.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Paddy Nixon said sensors can be distributed across the island, measuring all aspects of activity, including energy, carbon, water, population and transport flow.

The data can be accumulated through the broadband network to make meaningful deductions. Solutions can then be delivered which change the way the island and its society operate.

“Tasmania is small enough to make SenseT achievable and big enough to make it worth doing. SenseT success will rapidly scale to regional and national projects,” he said.

“The use of sensors is not new - what is new is bringing together different sensors into a single, large-scale, open-access system.

“A single sensor from the SenseT network located on a farm may be utilised for improved irrigation or fertiliser application. But when networked with other sensors, data from the same sensor could also provide supermarket customers with information on the origins of their food,” Prof Nixon said.

“On a wider scale, this information could be used to monitor temperature or rainfall, or for flood and fire alerts.

When integrated with maps and historical records this can be used to predict changes in the environment.

“It is the open access to information in a single system which will create opportunities for innovation and economies of scale,” Prof Nixon said.

SenseT has been initiated by UTAS, Tasmanian Government and CSIRO (through the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation) in collaboration with National ICT Australia (NICTA), IBM, and the Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society (University of Melbourne).

Published on: 23 Feb 2012 2:42pm