Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Computing History Tours of Melbourne

The next Computing History Tours of Melbourne are: 1 May, 15 May and 18 July 2010. The tours take in:
  1. CSIRAC: Australia's first computer
  2. Melbourne's first Computer Room
  3. Melbourne's Babbage connection
  4. Site of Australia's first supercomputer
  5. Monash's first computer
  6. Former Melbourne Computer Centre near Albert Park.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

APCO Emergency Communications Conference in Melbourne in March

The "2010 APCO Australasia Conference & Exhibition" is in Melbourne, 15-17 March 2010. The theme is "Technologies & Their Impact on Major Emergencies, A Case Study: Back to the Future – Black Saturday". Last year I attended, and presented, at the conference in Sydney, during the Victorian brushfires, along with people responsible for fighting the fires. This is a very useful conference for those in the emergency and security communications business.


• Counter-Terrorism
• Critical Infrastructure
• Emergency Management & Response
• Future Technologies
• Information & Contract Management
• Training, Education & Planning
• Interoperability
Some 2010 Key Presenters Include
  • David Thodey, Chief Executive Officer, Telstra Corporation
  • Tony Pearce, Director General Emergency Management Australia
  • Kyle Tyrrell, Lieutenant Colonel, Australian Defence Force
  • Simon Overland, Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police
  • Russell Rees, Chief Officer, Country Fire Authority Victoria
  • Greg Sassella, Chief Executive Officer, Ambulance Victoria
  • Christine Nixon, Head of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction & Recovery Authority
  • Michael Hallowes, Head of Strategic Operations, National Policing Improvement Agency UK
  • Jolly Wong Chun-Kau, Chief Telecom Engineer, Hong Kong Police Force
  • Bruce Farr, Chief, Toronto EMS
  • Dr. David Boyd, Director of Command Control and Interoperability, Department of Homeland Security USA
  • Dr David Jones, Head of Climate Analysis National Climate Centre, Bureau of Meteorology
  • Dr. John Carnie, Chief Medical Officer Victoria
  • Dr David Borth, Chief Technology Officer, Motorola
  • Mike Wright, Executive Director - Wireless Engineering & Operations, Telstra Corporation

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Monday, January 25, 2010

IT at the Australian Open Tennis

Greetings from the Australian Open in Melbourne. IBM have flown me down as part of their "Insight 10" (Twitter tag: #insight10 ) to show off the systems used for supporting the tennis.

This all started late last year when I had a phone call from Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide asking if I would like to be one of a small group of opinion makers. This sounded like a scam, or at best "cash for comment". It was explained that there would be no cash, which made it sound worse: why would I comment for free? However, I thought I would see what it was all about.

Some months later I got an invitation to the tennis. I don't actually like tennis, but was promised a look behind the scenes at the computer system used for the scoring and statistics, which sounded more interesting.

So here I am in the IBM corporate tent (an air-conditioned, carpeted tent). There is quite a buzz outside with people draped in Australian flags for Australia day.

We were all handed a HTC Android phone, running a the "IBM Seer" app. This is an augmented reality application which takes the image from the camera, the location from the GPS and the direction from the digital compass and overlays the scene with information about the venue. AT the tennis this shows things link which arena is which and where the toilets are. The application is a lot more usable than I expected, but has a few limitations. The HTC screen is not readable in the bright Melbourne sunshine. The text on the screen is too small for me to read.

At court side there are sensors and people with PDAs recording statistics on the tennis matches. I had assumed this would be just the score, but there is a radar system for recording the speed of the serves and people to enter the style of play. This data is transmitted to servers around the world, logged in a database and provided to the TV and web systems.

We then went down under the main courts where the public are not permitted. There in a room in the basement of the building, in a concrete lined room with a ziggurat ceiling (the underside of the stepped seating) was a room full of equipment with some very relaxed looking IBM technicians. I noticed the servers are mounted in SKB transportable shock mounted racks in stackable containers (as used for military IT systems). The people running the system travel around the world to different sporting events, taking the equipment with them.

Back at the VIP tent we were shown the tennis home page, which is only available in English (there is also an iPhone app available in multiple languages). One internal applications shown was the one used for scheduling the matches. This was refreshingly simple, with no graphics: just a grid of text, emulating a whiteboard. One problem with this is that to indicate a player is about to go on their name changes from blue to green. This needed to be changed to give some other indication for those who are colour-blind.

There was also a screen showing how much energy the system was using. I would have liked to see more of this, but my fellow Insight10s got very excited by another display analysing the online response to the event. This display scans blogs, tweets and other material online which mention the Australian Open and assess what is said. This .looks at what sponsors are mentioned and if the sentiment is positive or negative. This seems t be why I am here, with the aim of having me blog something which ends up in the positive category.

After lunch there was an entertaining tennis quiz, using "clickers" (hand held feedback devices, as used for quizzes in schools). There there were questions and answers by John Fitzgerald (ex-professional tennis player).

Last official part of the day before watching tennis was question and answer with the people from the IBM Atlanta Innovation Centre who look after the sporting application. They said I could ask anything so I asked if the Australian Open home page complied with Australian accessibility law. The last time I was involved with an IBM supplied sport system was the Sydney Olympics, where I testified in the Human Rights Commission that the web site was not accessible to the blind. The IBM people took this rather heavy question quite well. They said that the site was designed against IBM's own internal guidelines as well as other accessibility guidelines. The major difficulty for a sport such as tennis is complex multidimensional tables which update in real time. The answer to this is to provide micro updates. This reduces the bandwidth required for all users. Fir those with a disability it is possible to provide a text based running commentary and which s much like the scoring you hear on the TV broadband of the tennis. There is also a mobile version of the site, which we tried on an iPhone and which looked good.

ps: While IBM don't provide it there is also a system with eight cameras tracking the ball for enhanced display on TV.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Victorian Hybrid Buses

The Victorian Government is sponsoring a trial of two hybrid buses. As the video from the Victorian Transport Department explains, two types of hybrid bus are being trialled: the serial hybrid is more suited to slow routes with many stops, the parallel to longer routes with higher speed.

The series hybrid vehicle is for Ventura Coaches, with the wheels driven only by electric motors. It is claimed to reduce fuel use by 40%. There are 640 lithium ion batteries charged from a 2-litre diesel Volkswagen car engine. The internal combustion engine is much smaller than that normally used in a bus. As this is a full hybrid, the bus could, in theory act as a plug-in hybrid, or pure electric bus, charged from mains power. However, as Victorian electricity is primarily sourced from highly polluting brown coal, this would not have environmental benefits.

The Grendas Bus Service vehicle is a parallel hybrid (similar to a most hybrid cars), built from an Australian made Iveco bus chassis, Volgren Low Floor Route bus body and Cummins diesel Allison hybrid gearbox. This is used as a "Smart Bus" on the Springvale Road 888/889 route.

One aspect of the hybrid buses which is not clear is their fuel source. If the hybrid buses run on diesel they may have little environmental or cost advantages over conventional natural gas powered vehicles.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Melbourne Thessaloniki sister cities

Melbourne Thessaloniki sister cities stele in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, AustraliaTaking a break from the State Library of Victoria , I went around the corner to Lonsdale Street for a coffee and baklava. On the footpath at the corner with Heffernan Lane I found a marble stele (pillar) engraved with a relief of Saint Demetrius on the other with Alexander the Great, and the words "Melbourne - Thessaloniki sister cities. From the Prefecture of Thessaloniki during the Psomiadis Administration". This affiliation happened in 1984. but the monument was only unveiled 11 November 2008.

Demetrius and Alexander are two of Thessalonik's best known residents; another being Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. I went to the church dedicated to Demetriusis a few blocks away, the birthplace of Atatürk (now in the grounds of the Turkish Embassy) when on a visit to Thessalonik. It is a curious echo to see a reminder in Melbourne.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Historical Tour of Computing in Melbourne

At the ACS Victorian Branch 2009 Conference someone mentioned there was an Historical Tour of Computing in Melbourne. Unfortunately I missed the tour as I was at the conference. The next one is Sunday 31 May 2009. The tours are run by Caulfield School of Information Technology (Monash University) and are free, apart from your tram ticket. Many of the sites on the tour are accessible without the tour and the tour guide web page provides a useful self-guide. The highlight of any such tour has to be CSIRAC at the Melbourne Museum, the fourth computer in the world and the best preserved.

The Tour:

  1. Monash Museum of Computing History
  2. Site of Albert Park Barracks and DSD
  3. Melbourne's Silicon Mile: St Kilda Road and Fitzroy Street
  4. Stanhill
  5. Melbourne Observatory: Melbourne's first computer room
  6. Victoria Barracks: Australia's first supercomputer
  7. St Paul's Cathedral: the Babbage connection
  8. National Mutual: Smalltalk-80's Australian debut
  9. ICI House
  10. Melbourne Museum: CSIRAC
  11. Physics Museum, University of Melbourne
  12. Old Physics, University of Melbourne: CSIRAC's first Victorian home

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Melbourne to Ballarat by Train

Rail map of Central Victoria and Port Phillip BayAs I was going to Ballarat to talk at a Green ICT Conference, I thought I should take a green way to get there. So I took the V/Line train at 4:05pm from Melbourne, Southern Cross. At one hour and fourteen minutes, this is a very practical and comfortable way to travel. Southern Cross is a modern well equipped and dramatic departure point. The express buses from Melbourne airport pull in under the station, making for a convenient interchange without leaving the building.

On the way I made a side trip to swap notes on sustainable IT education with Frank Mentiplay at Box Hill Institute. This is an interesting institution, being a TAFE which offers vocational education at a level far beyond the usual trade certificate. Frank is working on a sustainable ICT education program. It was good to see that this was along the same lines as the course I designed for the ACS and the course for the ANU (COMP7310: Green ICT Strategies).

I was able to get a train from Southern Cross to Box Hill and back. The only complication was that the Box Hill station is located under a shopping centre not shown on the Google map. I expected to step off the train onto a street, but all the streets have been built over by the shopping arcades and it took me some time to find the way out. Once out on the correct side it was not far to the Box Hill campus.

The Melbourne to Ballarat trip is not that scenic. There are railway works and abandoned buildings along the city section. There are some curiosities, such as a giant gold statute of a Chinese Mandarin in the middle of an artificial lake.

Out of the city there are expanses flat featureless fields, until Ballarat. But there is plenty to see at Ballarat, starting with the Ballarat railway station. The new Wendouree station in the west Ballarat is opening shortly and there were upgrades to the line to Melbourne announced in the federal budget this week.

There is an excellent rail map of the route: Melbourne to Swan Hill, Ballarat and Ararat.

ps: Previously I have been Sydney to Melbourne by XPT, Brisbane to Sydney by XPT, as well as other train trips.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sydney to Melbourne by Train

Rail map of Eastern Victoria and Southern New South Wales.
As I was going to Melbourne to talk at a Green ICT Conference, I thought I should take the low carbon approach. So I booked on the Countrylink XPT train, travelling on the daylight service 24 November 2008. At just under twelve hours this is not viable for business travel, but it is a worthwhile holiday trip for those not in a hurry.

The first few hours of the trip are interesting, through the suburbs of Sydney and the countryside. After Goulburn it gets a bit dull, looking like the same countryside is repeated for the next six hours or so. The last couple of hours coming into Melbourne become interesting again. This trip is worth doing once for those who want to see some of Australia.

There is an excellent rail map of the route: Central (Sydney), Strathfield, Campbelltown, Moss Vale, Goulburn, Gunning, Yass Junction, Harden, Cootamundra, Junee, Wagga Wagga, The Rock, Henty, Culcairn, Albury, Wangaratta, Benalla, Southern Cross Station (Melbourne). The route follows the Main South line Sydney to Albury, then the North East line to Southern Cross Station, Melbourne.

The XPT trains have been refurbished and are very clean, tidy and comfortable. The refurbishment doesn't appear to have changed the interior decor and the train has a retro sixties look about it. The train has a muted blue/grey colour scheme which should wear well (but some of the shades of blue used do not seem to match).

The suspension on the XPT is excellent and it appears to float over the bumps in the suburban track. Between the outskirts of Sydney and Goulburn much of the track has had the wooden sleepers replaced with concrete ones and the ride is so smooth as to be surreal, as a result. The train feels as if it could go 50 km/h faster.

The economy class seats on the XPT are of a generous size, but I thought the padding a little hard. The new cloth seat covers do not appear to have been well fitted and there is already some fraying of the material around the edges and this is likely to need to be redone within a couple of years. One of the seat-back trays flipped down and an angle so contents tended to slide into my lap. The reading lights worked and the gold reflective coating on the windows was very good at keeping the harsh sun out.

The toilets are clean and well designed. The new stick on labels are starting to peel and need to be replaced with more robust ones. The labels on the luggage racks also seemed to be wearing off.

The service on the train is good, with clear announcements and helpful staff. Service at the buffet car is good. There was a special with "real" coffee in coffee bags (like tea bags). This was not up to the standard of the filter drip on the French TGV, but acceptable and much better than instant coffee. The staff went to a lot of trouble to have passengers reuse the cardboard trays the food was supplied on. The result was one tray would last a passenger the whole trip instead of one for each meal, saving a lot of cardboard and garbage disposal.

One of the delights of the trip is leaving from the interstate hall of Sydney Central Station. Melbourne Southern Cross also has a dramatic sense of arrival. There are brief stops at well maintained little old stations in between. The train was only about one quarter full at the start, but a surprising number of people got on and off at the intermediate stations. The train provides a useful transport service for rural NSW.

There was track work being carried out all along the route to replace the sleepers. This slowed the train down, but should greatly improve the ride, and perhaps speed up the trip, when finished. In the November issue of Railway Digest, Phillip Laird proposed removing some of the tight curves in the track between Sydney and Goulburn. He claimed this would save 1340 litres of fuel for the average freight train and reduce the trip time by 105 minutes. All of the upgrades would cost $1,827M, would appear to be a good public investment. This would also improve the XPT trip. While the Sydney - Melbourne trip would still be too long for business purposes, this and some minor improvements on the Goulburn - Canberra track would make the Sydney - Canberra trip under three hours and competitive with airlines.

Previously I have been Brisbane to Sydney by XPT, as well as other train trips.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What to see from a Sydney to Melbourne Train Window

Rail map of Eastern Victoria and Southern New South Wales.As I am going to Melbourne to talk at a Green ICT Conference I thought I should take the low carbon approach and booked on the Countrylink XPT train. Any suggestions as to what to see out the window would be welcome. Previously I have been Brisbane to Sydney by XPT, as well as other train trips.

There is an excellent rail map of the route: Central (Sydney), Strathfield, Campbelltown, Moss Vale, Goulburn, Gunning, Yass Junction, Harden, Cootamundra, Junee, Wagga Wagga, The Rock, Henty, Culcairn, Albury, Wangaratta, Benalla, Southern Cross Station (Melbourne). The route follows the Main South line Sydney to Albury, then the North East line to Southern Cross Station, Melbourne.

Sydney to Melbourne direct

Sydney to
Melbourne XPT

Sydney to
Melbourne XPT

(Sydney) dep

Moss Vale
Yass Junction
Wagga Wagga
02:49Connections to
, Griffith
The Rocka14:18a03:11
to Echuca
Southern Cross
(Melbourne) arr


From: Sydney to Melbourne direct Daily, CountryLink, 2008

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Report on the ACT Innovation System

The ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, launched a report on innovation in the ACT, on 19 March 2008. The study was done by Howard Partners, and the full 174 page report is available online ( 1.8 Mbytes of PDF). This should be useful for the Canberra 2020 Forum to be held on April 5 on the theme 'innovation'.

The report has a readable 5 page executive summary and set of recommendations. At about 24 Kbytes per page, the report is reasonably efficiently encoded. However, it would help if the summary and recommendations were provided separately, preferably in the form of a web page which would be easier to find and read. Appended are excerpts from the recommendations, summary and table of contents of the report.

One deficiency of the report is that it does not address new approaches to intellectual property, such as Open Source and Open Access. These provide the potential to unlock creativity, innovation and economic development currently lying unused in tertiary institutions and government agencies in Canberra.

Recommendations From the Report

1. An entity, tentatively termed Innovation Canberra, be formed to provide leadership and direction in the development and implementation of knowledge based innovation strategies for the ACT and surrounding region—with a particular focus on the ICT and the creative practices sectors.
2. Innovation Canberra consist of members drawn from business, creative, education, and government sectors.
3. Members of Innovation Canberra be required to contribute to overhead and operating costs, with the ACT Government providing seed funding for start-up costs.
4. Innovation Canberra be tasked to develop a strategic agenda of major projects and initiatives and advocate, promote, and seek funding support from industry, higher education and government—locally, nationally and internationally.

Creating and leveraging sector linkages

5. In view of the potential for the creative sector to make a stronger contribution to economic development, the ACT government give consideration to making further investments to build capability. In particular, initiatives to accelerate the bridging of the technology and creative sectors should be examined.

Stimulating and supporting innovation at the enterprise level

6 The ACT Government establish an ‘Ideas Fund’ to nurture innovative ideas and concepts to a stage of development where they become potentially marketable products and services and are of interest to customers and/or technology investors.
7. The Epicorp incubation and enterprise development model be extended, in partnership with universities, research organisations, and national collecting institutions, into a Canberra Innovation Development Centre directed towards product development and scale up for technology and
arts and creative businesses.
8. A program to support innovation strategy development in more developed and mature start-up firms be examined—for example, program support to cover the cost of advice and mentoring to assist firms develop innovation management strategies and the organisational infrastructure
pertinent to their business models.

Innovation, Creativity and Leadership

9. The ACT Government be a participant in a collaboration between Government and ACT universities in an ARC Linkage project application for innovation in government procurement. As one of the smaller jurisdictions a pilot study should be undertaken for the ACT public sector.

Branding and positioning of Canberra

10. There is need to develop a more progressive view and brand of Canberra, particularly in the domestic market. The ACT Government, together with industry through the Canberra Business Council, higher and further education institutions, the national collecting institutions, research
organisations, and the Australian Government develop a strategy to position Canberra as an international city of design.


11. The ACT Government support an annual Canberra Exhibition that showcases, celebrates and markets ACT innovation capability across the science, technology, and the cultural and creative sectors ...

From: Innovation, Creativity and Leadership, Report of a Study of the ACT Innovation System, Howard Partners for the Australian Capital Territory Government, March 2008, ISBN-978-0-642-60439-2,
ISBN-10: 0-642-60439-8
From the Executive Summary:
... Cities and regions provide the frameworks for innovation by being ‘hubs of capability’ and facilitating ‘linkages’ between businesses, research and teaching organisations and government organisations. The concept of ’hubs’ and ‘linkages’ provides the basis for the analysis of ‘innovation systems’. ...

This study complements the science system approach by documenting capability in what will be referred to as the ‘arts and creative practices system’ and drawing attention to the importance of creativity as a major source of innovation. Creativity is linked to innovation through design as well as research, teaching, and experimentation in art and creative practices. Cultural institutions, such as libraries, galleries and museums also have a role in the ‘arts and creative practices system’. ...

In 2004-05 a total of $698m was spent on research and development in Canberra—amounting to 10.2 percent of total research and development expenditure in Australia. Almost 90 percent of expenditure in Canberra was performed in the public sector. Business expenditure on research and development Innovation, Creativity and Leadership amounted to $99m (1.0 percent of the Australian total). Sixty two percent of this was incurred in the electronic equipment and computer services (ICT) sectors. This compares with 11 per cent for Australia as a whole.

Several research intensive and software development based businesses have grown in Canberra and become sustainable, often on a global basis, on a foundation of relationships developed with Australian Government departments and agencies and the Defence Materiel Organisation.

However, the study indicates that contracting with the Australian Government presents particular challenges, particularly in the absence of a demonstrated ‘track record’. Unlike the United Kingdom and European countries, the Australian Government does not use its procurement system to source or stimulate innovation. This constitutes lost opportunity. ...

The strengths of the ACT science system relate to its position as an international centre and global hub for research and teaching excellence across a number of disciplines, including natural and life sciences, information and communications sciences, economics, the policy sciences and humanities, and curatorial studies.

Research excellence attracts top students who in turn provide the human
resource base for businesses starting up or relocating in Canberra, for government advice, and for national institutions wishing to tap into world class expertise and capabilities.

The arts and creative practices system reflects the location and activities of the national collecting institutions based in Canberra—including the National Library, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive, the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives—and teaching and research undertaken in the schools of art, music, design and architecture located at the ANU, the University of Canberra and the Canberra Institute of Technology. ...

A private college, the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE), is a leading educator for the computer game development and 3D digital industries. ScreenACT, the ACT Office of Film, Television and Digital Media, is responsible for implementing industry development initiatives. Canberra has a developing film and television production industry, with a particular strength in non-fiction and documentary film, and which displays potential to grow. ...

In June 2006 there were 3,000 creative businesses in the ACT, representing 10.7 percent of all businesses in the Territory—this data does not include businesses located in Queanbeyan. Creative businesses have a higher propensity to be micro-businesses—with 40 percent of GST registered creative businesses being sole traders compared to 36 percent across all industries. This is reflective of a
pattern in other capital cities—particularly London and Berlin.

There is scope for substantial further development of the creative industries through linkages and partnerships between universities and colleges, creative content providers, the substantial computing capacity available in the ACT (through the ANU and NICTA) and optical fibre communications capability. ...

The study outlines a number of key issues that need to be addressed in going ahead with an innovation based economic development strategy. These include creating critical mass among smaller businesses through collaborations and networking, the exercise of leadership and building business capacity and capability for expansion and growth. ...

The study has suggested that there are a number of initiatives that can be put in place to capture and develop innovation opportunities for the ACT. There was a strong view that government, industry and universities should work in partnership to capture the ICT and creative capabilities of Canberra through investment in an MIT style media laboratory. ...

From: Innovation, Creativity and Leadership, Report of a Study of the ACT Innovation System, Howard Partners, for the Australian Capital Territory Government, March 2008, ISBN-978-0-642-60439-2,
ISBN-10: 0-642-60439-8

From Table of contents of the report:
Executive Summary 1
Recommendations 6
  1. Introduction 9
    1. Background 9
    2. Innovation and innovation systems 10
    3. The competitive environment 21
  2. Approach to the study 22
  3. The innovation policy context: vision, plans, and frameworks 23
    1. Innovation policy objectives 23
    2. The Canberra plan and strategy 24
    3. The economic framework 26
    4. Australian Government purchasing and procurement 32
    5. Issues and implications 37
  4. Innovation system capability 39
    1. Research and development capability 39
    2. Creative capability 52
    3. Business and entrepreneurial capability 62
    4. Conclusions 64
  5. Innovation system institutional framework 65
    1. Institutions for teaching and research 66
    2. Cultural institutions 67
    3. Lead businesses 68
    4. Networks 73
    5. Conferences, awards and prizes 78
    6. Technology parks and seed funds 80
    7. Investors 81
    8. Support services 83
    9. Policy and strategic framework 84
  6. Innovation system dynamics 85
    1. Framework 85
    2. System attributes 87
    3. Interactions and connections 90
    4. Issues and implications 92
  7. Canberra’s distinctive capabilities 93
    1. A City with an international outlook and connections 93
    2. An international centre for research and teaching 94
    3. Centre for culture, arts, and creative practices 94
    4. A Centre for defence procurement 95
    5. An attractive place to live and work 95
    6. Implications 96
  8. Best practice 97
    1. Berlin 97
    2. Ottawa 98
    3. Washington, DC 98
    4. London 101
    5. Wellington 102
    6. Observations and implications 103
  9. Some emerging trends 105
    1. The ‘democratisation’ of information technology 105
    2. The convergence of information technology and creative practices 106
    3. Higher education engagement 107
    4. Biotechnology 108
    5. Demand for security solutions 109
    6. Government procurement practices 110
    7. Centralisation of government administration in Canberra 112
  10. Key issues to address 113
    1. Creating critical mass 113
    2. Leadership 114
    3. Building a culture of collaboration 114
    4. Building business capability in the creative industries sector 115
    5. Support for new business development 116
    6. Resources 117
    7. Out-migration of skilled people 117
    8. Policy issues 117
    9. Innovation, Creativity and Leadership
  11. New visions for Canberra 119
    1. A centre for a technology, arts and creative practices industry 119
    2. A ‘connected city’ 120
    3. An international city of design 122
    4. An international centre for conservation management and practice 123
    5. Australia’s ‘education’ capital 123
    6. Sustainable City 124
    7. Issues and implications 126
  12. Actions and initiatives 127
    1. Establish leadership and direction 127
    2. Build a framework for new business support 130
    3. Advocate for innovation in government procurement 133
    4. Position Canberra as an international city 134

Attachment A: Strategies and actions to establish Canberra as an international city of design and architecture 135
  • Achieve UNESCO ‘City of Design’ status 135
  • Branding through the Canberra Biennial 137
  • Establish a Graduate School of Design 138
  • Plan for a National Design Museum 138
  • Encourage Establishment of a Peak Body for Design 139
  • Overall framework 139
Attachment B: Australian Government Contracts Gazetted for Procurement of Goods and Services in the ACT and Region 2006-07 141
  • Classified by ANZSCC Code 141
  • Classified by Agency/Department 144
Attachment C: Profile of Research and Development Expenditure in the ACT. 147
  • Overview 147
  • Higher education 148
  • Government 153
Attachment D: A note on financing start-up businesses 155
Attachment E: The MIT Media Lab 159
References 163

Table 1: ACT Industry Percentage Contribution to Total Factor Income 27
Table 2 ACT Employment by Industry Sector (‘000) 31
Table 3: Australian Government—purchases of goods and services in the ACT and region exceeding $10m 33
Table 4: Australian Government purchases of goods and services in the
ACT region—ANZSCC code 34
Table 5: Innovation system capability investment framework 40
Table 6: Higher education expenditure on R&D by type of activity 2004 ($’000) 41
Table 7: Higher education expenditure on R&D by type of activity 2004 (proportion) 41
Table 8: Summary of higher education expenditure on R&D by research fields 2004 ($’000) 42
Table 9: Summary of higher education expenditure on R&D by socio-economic objective 2004 ($’000) 43
Table 10: Higher education research commercialisation indicators 44
Table 11: Government expenditure on research and development 45
Table 12: CSIRO research commercialisation indicators 46
Table 13: Major Australian research infrastructure located in the ACT 46
Table 14: Business expenditure on R&D, by industry - by location: 2005-06 47
Table 15: All ACT Students by Higher Education Provider and Broad Field of Education, Full Year 2005 48
Table 16: Students by Higher Education Provider and Broad Level of Course, Full Year 2005 49
Table 17: Australian Government Business Support Programs 51
Table 18: Employment in Creative Industry Segments, 2001 census 54
Table 19: Number of creative businesses in the ACT by segment—2006 55
Table 20: Innovation system institutional framework 65
Table 21: Expenditure on R&D, by industry - by location: 2004-05 147
Table 22: Higher education expenditure on R&D by source of funds 2004 ($’000) 148
Table 23: Higher education expenditure on R&D by source of funds 2004 (proportions) 148
Table 24: Higher education expenditure on R&D by type of activity 2004 ($’000) 149
Table 25: Higher education expenditure on R&D by type of activity 2004 (proportion) 149
Table 26: Higher education expenditure on R&D by research fields 2004 ($’000) 150
Table 27: Higher education expenditure on R&D by research fields 2004 (proportion) 151
Table 28: Higher education expenditure on R&D by socio-economic objective 2004 ($’000) 152
Table 29: Higher education expenditure on R&D by socio-economic objective 2004 (proportion) 153

From: Innovation, Creativity and Leadership, Report of a Study of the ACT Innovation System, Howard Partners, for the Australian Capital Territory Government, March 2008, ISBN-978-0-642-60439-2,
ISBN-10: 0-642-60439-8
See also:

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Economic contribution of universities

Jon Stanhope, ACT Chief Minister, on 19 March 2008 launched the report of a Study of the ACT Innovation System, on enhancing Canberra’s knowledge economy, R&D and innovation. This is described key document for the Canberra 2020 Forum to be held on April 5 on the theme 'innovation'.

However, the report does not appear to have been made available yet.
A search of the ACT Government web site found no matches found for "Innovation System". Howard Partners, who are undertaking the study, describe it as a "Work in Progress".

Howard Partners did undertake a study of the contribution of Melbourne’s universities to the City’s economic, cultural and community development in
May 2007. This is a 72 page report "Melbourne: Australia’s knowledge capital":

Globalisation is increasing as external courses offered by overseas providers increase. The falling costs of telecommunications and the capability of the Internet are providing opportunities in the provision of education across national borders. ...

For example, RMIT has research strengths relating to information retrieval from very large databases, including the Internet. One research group
has developed into a commercial enterprise which has been spun out as a successful company with clients in many sectors including defence, education and government in Australia and overseas. ...

Swinburne University has a research strength in how new information and communications technologies are put to use by users, communities, organisations and societies in a way that creates new intersections of technology, content and use. Research activity is concentrated in the areas of: convergent communications and technologies; human computer interaction; internet computing and ecommerce; affective human-computer interaction and information technology innovation. ...

The online astronomy program, Swinburne Astronomy Online (SAO), is perhaps the largest Internet-based astronomy learning program in the world. ...

From: Melbourne: Australia’s knowledge capital, Howard Partners, May 2007

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Metadata Management Forum

The 4th Annual Metadata Management Forum is 21-22 Apr 2008 in Melbourne. I am speaking on "The importance of metadata within a search engine context – Metadata versus Google". Other speakers include Rhonda Bradford, Australian Taxation Office on "Metadata implementation", Bala Rasaratnam,
National Australia Bank on "Managing the longevity of metadata", and Marcus Falley, Coles Group on "Using metadata to facilitate enterprise search".

Somehow I have to explain the following in 45 minutes:
• Custom software versus the web
• Improving tracking results with better search engine performance
• Understanding and weighing the importance of metadata and matching that to specific actions that would improve search engine performance
• Evaluating critical steps undertaken to align and leverage between a business/product strategy and an enterprise strategy
• Making an improvement to the underlying product development, takeup
and support through metadata interpretation, web trend analysis and campaign management.
The draft program:
Conference Programme Day One
Monday April 21st 2008

0830 Registration & coffee

0850 Welcoming address from the Chair
Mark Brannigan President
Data Warehouse Association Australia

0900 Session One – Expert Advice

Standards and uptake of metadata
• Assessing the level of uptake and implementation of metadata among Australian organisations
• Exploring the emerging standards and opportunities for integration
• Leveraging metadata to ensure a greater integration of databases to benefit businesses and consumers in the global marketplace
• Comprehending the value and role of standards
• Understanding the future directions of metadata
• Categorising metadata standards – updating your knowledge on standards: which standards and why?
• Learning from Australian government metadata initiatives to improve record keeping
• Metadata and governance, including standard deliverables
• Maintaining metadata standards and guidelines

Barbara Reed Director
Recordkeeping Innovation

0945 Session Two – Case Study

Metadata implementation – understanding the ins and
• Analysing the challenges faced by businesses in their quest to implement metadata
• Ensuring quality stewardship throughout the entire metadata
• Demonstrating positive outcomes to build momentum and enthusiasm
• Integrating data, information and knowledge
• Overcoming resistance when implementing a metadata policy across your organization
• Considering the advantages of different approaches to make
integration work
• Metadata processes and how to establish common definitions

Rhonda Bradford Senior Data Architect
Australian Taxation Office

1030 Morning refreshments & networking break

1100 Session Three – International Award-Winning Keynote

Part One

The business case for metadata – how does metadata
impact performance?
• How metadata deployment can give your organization a competitive advantage
• Weighing the benefits against the resource requirements
• Clearly defined strategies, goals and benefits of metadata as a business tool
• Business cases and performance management – where does metadata fit in?
• Identifying metadata projects that will deliver real benefits to your organisation’s business models

1145 Part Two

Managing metadata to reduce costs and aid in decisionmaking
• Implementing effective strategies that ensure your directories are populated with the most current data
• Clearly defining responsibilities for the management of diverse metadata
• Understanding how metadata can be damaging to your organisation’s integrity if it is not managed correctly
• Lowering costs for implementation and maintenance of your enterprise applications
• Demonstrating to senior managers the cost savings brought by the implementation of effective Metadata management strategies – thebest way to make your case

Ron Klein Enterprise Metadata Director
BMO Financial Group
2007 Wilshire Award-Winner for Metadata

1230 Luncheon

1330 Session Four – Expert Advice

Implementing a metadata policy for your organisation
• Understanding the need for having a Metadata policy
• Analysing winning techniques in developing metadata policy
• Selling it effectively to the relevant parties in an organisation
• Evaluating the best way to go about the implementation process

Kate Walker CEO
Records Management Association of Australia

1415 Session Five – Case Study

Managing the longevity of metadata – the importance of
quality maintenance
Implementing metadata will only get the business halfway there. It is essential that a smart strategy is in place to maintain metadata over time.

This session will offer you the opportunity to consider if you have addressed all the appropriate business requirements to ensure not only a successful uptake and integration, but also to maintain the long-term value of metadata. It is also imperative for business stakeholders to understand that metadata is not a ‘quick-win’ way of saving the business money; it is a part of the business that requires commitment over time to
yield significant ROI. This session will look at:
• Metadata management & the issues organisations face in making it real & sustainable
• Building awareness of metadata maintenance in your organisation
• Tools and capability
• Determining whether to centralise or decentralise the maintenance process
• Identifying the major stakeholders of the initiative to ensure long term success for your project

Bala Rasaratnam Data Management Lead - Enterprise Services
National Australia Bank

1500 Afternoon refreshments & networking break

1530 Session Six – Expert Advice

The importance of metadata within a search engine
context – Metadata versus Google
• Custom software versus the web
• Improving tracking results with better search engine performance
• Understanding and weighing the importance of metadata and matching that to specific actions that would improve search engine performance
• Evaluating critical steps undertaken to align and leverage between a business/product strategy and an enterprise strategy
• Making an improvement to the underlying product development, takeup and support through metadata interpretation, web trend analysis and campaign management

Tom Worthington Senior Lecturer
Australian National University

1615 Session Seven – Case Study

Maximising the role of controlled vocabularies to support
information quality
• Implementing practical thesaurus development guidelines
• Understanding a project’s thesaurus scope
• Developing an effective thesaurus structure
• Analysing business definitions, values and the role of taxonomies
• Addressing validation, data dictionaries and thesauri

Vanessa Booth Content Manager
Victoria Online - Department of Innovation, Industry and
Regional Development

1700 End of Day One

Tuesday April 22nd 2008
Conference Programme Day Two

0830 Morning coffee

0850 Opening address from the Chair

0900 Session One – Case Study

Using metadata to facilitate enterprise search
• Identifying who the searchers are
• Understanding the terms and hierarchy of the business taxonomy to
maximise effective findability
• Guidelines for building a successful taxonomy – using the KISS approach
• Categorising documents for search – a decision for governance
• Examining enterprise search architecture
• Developing best practice data processes, tools and models to strive for
metadata management maturity

Marcus Falley Senior Optimisation and Reporting Analyst
Coles Group

0945 Session Two – Case Study

From silo to single enterprise - developing a whole of
government metadata system to obtain best value out of
government information
• Valuing, describing and publishing government information assets
• Recognising the information needs of different user communities
• Examining the technical architecture
• Challenges and benefits in developing the system
• The data package - data, metadata and licence

Jenny Bopp Principal Statistician, Office of Economic and Statistical
David Torpie Principal Statistician, Office of Economic and Statistical
Queensland Treasury

1030 Morning refreshments & networking break

1100 Session Three – Case Study

Implementing and maintaining metadata – benefits
achieved and lessons learned at the State Records of South Australia
Over the past 2 years State Records of South Australia has implemented a records and metadata strategy to facilitate discovery of documents as well as improve staff productivity and management decision-making.
This session is a case of the implementation of that strategy and will
• Developing and implementing a metadata strategy
• Identifying the records to be captured, planning the metadata to be collected and implemented
• Implementing the capture of metadata into work practices
• Examining policies and procedures, embarking on change management
and training and maintaining the metadata

Karen Horsfall Information Management Strategist State Records of South Australia

1145 Luncheon

1300 Award-Winning International Case Study & Best Practice Workshop
Facilitated by:
Gregg Wyant Chief Architect and General Manager of IT Strategy,
Architecture & Innovation
Intel Corporation

Data quality and Service Oriented Architecture – what are
the requirements?
• Evaluating the metadata readiness of your business data, applications and technology architectures
• Implementing an enterprise architecture framework for explicitly defined assets
• Web services and the components of Service Oriented Architectures
• Specific SOA requirements as they pertain to data quality
• The specific data quality steps that should be taken to ensure success
• Business impact of information quality
• How data quality affects the bottom line
• How SOA repository improves programming productivity and increases re-use
• How to effectively architect a data integration and date warehouse strategy using an SOA data services approach to accelerate deployment, reduce risks and lower costs

Connecting metadata to information architecture
• Relationship between metadata, repository and architecture
• Metadata Tool Choices: distributed vs centralized
• Achieving buy-in from the architecture community
• Establishing authoritative sources of metadata and ownership
• Choosing between opportunistic systemic approaches to populating metadata
• Aligning architecture work products to Enterprise Architecture
• Capturing metadata services in the repository and utilising them at design time by architects

Analysing enterprise-wide benefits of metadata
• Measuring reuse of your enterprise architecture assets via metadata
• Valuing your enterprise assets – calculating business value
• Metadata governance processes and issues
• Expanding reuse valuation to all architectural assets
• Using reuse success to expand your metadata efforts
1700 Closing remarks from the Chair and end of conference

Workshop Schedule
1300 Opening and start of the workshop, Module 1
1500 Afternoon tea
1515 Workshop resumes, Module 2
1700 Close of workshop.
See also books on:
  1. Information Management
  2. Managing Records
  3. Archives
  4. Information Architecture
  5. Metadata
  6. Electronic Documents
  7. Electronic Publishing
  8. Data Mining
  9. Preserving Digital Information
  10. Public Sector Management
  11. e-Government
  12. Electronic Document Software

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sustainable Living Festival

Melbourne held a Sustainable Living Festival 15 to 17 February 2008. I arrived a few minutes before it was due to close and had a look around as the displays were dismantled. Most prominent were the electric cars.

There was a
Hyundai Getz converted to battery power by Blade Electric Vehicles (BEV). This looked very much like Shaun Williams' Electric Echo, even having the electrical outlet under the petrol filler cap. BEV's Getz conversion was claimed to have a range of 100 to 150 km, with a battery life of eight years. So presumably it was not using the lead acid batteries of the Electric Echo (which had only about a 40 km range). In reality town car only needs a range of 40 km to be practical, but a longer range is needed to convince a petrol car owner to change over.

Two solar cell ultra light weight streamlined cars were also displayed. These were not practical road cars, like the Getz, but built for solar races.

HRV Australia dispalyed their solar home heating system. This is different to other systems in that it filters and draws down hot air from the roof cavity of the house, using the existing roof as a solar collector. This approach has some merits but HRV make excessive claims for the system, including that it will remove toxic gasses and radon gas from the air. Even if the system includes a particle filter, such a filter will not be able to remove gases, only particles. It will therefore be ineffective in removing toxic gasses.

Unfortunately the festival suffered from being in the poorly designed Federation Square. This vast expanse of unshaded, undulating, uneven cobblestones is uncomfortable to stand in and difficult and dangerous to walk on. The Melbourne City Council should level and resurface the square, adding some shade. Whoever designed this should not be in the business of landscape architecture.

One pleasant discovery was that beyond the awful federation square, there is a pleasant shaded riverbank walk called "Northbank Promenade" and "Yarra Walk", part of the
Yarra River Trail. This looks out on the Yarra River, with the opposite riverbank lined with rowing club buildings and the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. There is the very comfortable looking Pub and a bridge to the tennis and football stadia.

There was also an "EchoEdge 2 " conference "Critical designs challenges in building sustainable cities" on in conjunction with the festival. Unfortunately I was unable to find any papers or presentations from the conference online.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Big Wheels in Melbourne

Southern Star Observation Wheel, under construction in MelbourneOn my way out of Melbourne today, I noticed the Southern Star Observation Wheel, under construction. This will be a bit smaller than the London Eye, but will still give a good view of the city. The other big wheels in Melbourne were the members of the ACS Professional Development Board. We were setting the program for training IT professionals next year. Some random notes I took:

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