Australian Catholic Uni turns analytics onto student wellbeing – Projects – Cloud – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Australian Catholic University (ACU) has turned its newly united data environment into a data lake to provide a single view of student development.
The data lake uses Microsoft’s Power BI and Azure data platform to support students who may need extra help or who are at risk of dropping out from the university entirely.
ACU found these insights by combining data streams from a number of sources including student management systems and customer relationship management (CRM) tools, the university’s chief information officer and IT director Niranjan Prabhu told iTnews.
ACU was one of five universities to pilot data lake development for a “360 degree view of students” with the Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology (CAUDIT), Prabhu said.
He added that the university was keen to bring together different environments from across its nine campuses in Australia and Italy to cater to its growing cohort of over 35,000 students.
“We’re generating and capturing more data than ever before, on an increasingly varied set of data sources, providing us with the opportunity to understand [and] support student success through the student lifecycle,” Prabhu said.
“Effectively managing that lifecycle is the key to excellent learning outcomes and student success.”
Common risk factors include slipping grades, financial stress, and social or environmental factors.
ACU can now identify these patterns in the data along with engagement, participation and attendance data as early warning signs where extra support is needed, whether that be in the form of financial assistance, tutoring or pastoral support.
However, it’s a delicate balance to get that right while respecting students’ privacy, Prabhu said.
“We definitely need to strike a respectful and conscientious balance while achieving the best outcomes for both the student and the university.”
A new assistant
Part of the support plan involves the development of AVA – the ACU Virtual Assistant.
AVA is designed as a “level one service desk one-stop shop” to help the IT support team cope with a large volume of routine enquiries.
The chatbot is powered by Microsoft Azure and uses natural language processing capabilities and integrations with ServiceNow, Microsoft Learning Pathways, Who-bot (a prebuilt Teams bot), and ACU’s COVID-19 FAQ to provide instant answers any time of the night or day.
It came in handy as the university transitioned to remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“[The IT team] weren’t flooded with calls about COVID because of the bot,” Prabhu said, with no calls left waiting for extended periods thanks to AVA’s rapid responses.
“Furthermore, when interacting with our chatbot, if the staff member requires further assistance, there is the option to seek help via handover to a live chat or log a service ticket through ServiceNow.
“This means staff are fully supported no matter their issue.”
Additional capabilities such as voice activation are planned for the future to improve the user experience, especially for members of the ACU community living with a disability.
Importantly, the effort expended to develop a robust and unified data environment and remote operations during the pandemic will speed up work on future projects.
“The foundations are there to build on all the new digital footprints when initiating new projects, meaning faster turnaround [times] and more productive work,” Prabhu said.

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Victoria’s largest council begins developing new smart city strategy – Strategy – Projects – Networking- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Victoria’s most populous local government area has begun developing a new smart city strategy to capitalise on existing smart infrastructure and deliver improved services for ratepayers.
The City of Casey in Melbourne’s southeast is currently seeking feedback from residents and technology suppliers on how it can build on earlier ‘demonstration projects’.
The push comes as the city continues to experience rapid population growth and urbanisation which present diverse challenges to the community, including sustainability, liveability, and economic development.
The current consultation process will inform how the council progresses its use of technology and data to support further developments, after a previous 2017-2021 smart city strategy expires.
A range of smart city infrastructure was put in place under the previous strategy, including connected street furniture that provides free wi-fi, barbecues that monitor usage and notify council when it needs repairs, and smart parking sensors.
It has also established a low power wide area network using LoRaWAN technology with 11 gateways that covers 80 percent of the municipality to support internet of things (IoT) deployments that businesses and residents can tap into.
Council chief executive officer Glenn Patterson said in a post on LinkedIn that these developments are needed now more than ever due to the severe disruption caused by the coronavirus health crisis.
“In order to continue to increase our community’s resilience, and support Casey’s diverse environmental, social and economic needs, council is committed to learning how technology, data and innovation – smart city infrastructure – can unlock new opportunities and help us overcome persistent challenges,” Patterson said.

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Australian Red Cross unifies digital experience for 270,000 stakeholders – Strategy – Projects – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Australian Red Cross has automated administrative tasks and provided a unified experience to 270,000 clients, donors, members and volunteers using Dell Boomi’s integration platform.
The move comes as part of a broader shift at the not-for-profit to modernise its IT estate and offer online self-service capabilities, such as the soon-to-be launched MyRedCross customer portal.
Connecting data from disparate core systems and third-party platforms was the first step in being able to develop the platform for Red Cross’ 75,000 regular donors in the first instance, before extending the capability to other clients, donors, supports and volunteers.
“If we don’t have integrated systems, we don’t have accurate or up-to-date data on which to base business decisions, and therefore can’t provide a personalised experience for our stakeholders,” Red Cross chief information officer Veronica Frost said.
“We offer so many services across Australia, it’s important we’re able to tailor our communications to the needs and interests of each person that is engaging with us.
“Personalisation leads to better experiences, but in order to personalise, we first needed to digitalise our operations.
“This meant connecting all our various systems so we could have a holistic view of our customers based on all the data available to us.”
Boomi was selected as the integration platform due to its “low-code”, drag-and-drop GUI, avoiding complex point-to-point integrations that would have required ongoing maintenance.
The MyRedCross project included the integration of EpiServer, Pivotal CRM, Okta identity management, InTech address validation, and Campaign Monitor marketing automation systems to produce a consistent and accurate data environment,
Further systems will be added from third parties and fundraising partners after the portal goes live early in the 2020-21 financial year.
One such integration will be the connection of point-of-sale terminals to the charity’s finance systems to handle in-store donations.
Multiple human resources systems will also be connected to maintain consistent employee and volunteering records and enable onboarding procedures to be automated.
Frost said the new portal will help the not-for-profit “make the most of [its] donor dollars” and direct resources to the community, rather than being wasted on overhead expenses.
“Boomi not only simplifies our integrations and the maintenance of our back-end infrastructure, it also enables us to streamline how we communicate with our stakeholders and will automate administrative tasks like employee and volunteering onboarding.
“Every dollar we can save from these tasks is another we can give back to the community through our various services.”
A cleaner data environment will also support future digital initiatives by speeding up foundational work, Frost added.
“It’s a high priority for us to be a digital organisation and deliver digital services to our clients.
“Access to consistent, accurate, and up-to-date data is absolutely pivotal to our digital transformation efforts, and Boomi is a central part of delivering connected experiences to all our end users.”

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Tempemail Library launches revamped Trove portal – Finance – Projects – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Tempemail Library of Australia (NLA) has launched the next stage of its online culture and research portal following a four-year modernisation and digitisation project.
Assistant director-general Alison Dellit said the overhaul involved a complete reconfiguration of the portal’s frontend and a new Drupal-based content management system (CMS).
The CMS reduces the time taken to update the frontend, which Dellit said could previously take up to three weeks to change so much as a single word.
The new system presents users with a richer and more dynamic platform optimised for mobile, and makes searching Trove’s 6.5 billion records easier for people without a background in archival research.
Part of the overhaul involved reworking the way records were indexed using a process developed by the NLA called atomisation that allows Trove’s 68,000 daily users to search for information within files themselves using ‘Finding Aids,’ improving on previous searches that could only take users as far as an overarching description of the collection.
This was because collections representing boxes of physical materials were previously digitised as singular documents, Dellit told iTnews, using the example of Sir John Monash’s correspondence.
That worked well for users looking to learn more about Monash, but if a researcher wanted to specifically focus on his correspondence with certain prime ministers or his writings on the suffragette movement, “what we formerly advised people to do was hit CTRL+F and do a search for the term they wanted”.
“So you had to scroll through a PDF document in order to work out where the digitised item was and then link to it, and that’s obviously really not an ideal way to search.
“What we’ve done with atomisation is that we’ve got an automated way of breaking long lists up into individual records, which means that anyone who’s in Trove who’s searching those long lists won’t have to think that an item might be in Monash’s collection. Instead they can just search that keyword [they’re after] and have the letter returned directly in Trove.”
Using the new atomisation technique, NLA was able to add up to 14,000 finding aids for a single document on Trove.
Last six months
The modernisation was a significant task for around 50 full-time staff, a dozen of whom were IT staff working with business area product owners at the NLA to build APIs and integrate the CMS with the Trove app.
The teams worked in three-week sprints, Dellit said, which got “brutally hard” in the last six months.
“So for the last six months it’s been done partially from people’s living rooms.
“We have, in that context, quite strong daily stand up meetings so all of the team makes sure we’re in contact every single day.
“We had to juggle the inevitabilities of using VPNs and secure root access when people are not onsite and having to juggle those difficult last-minute scoping decisions in a remote environment.”
The situation was made somewhat easier due to the fact that, as a national institution, the NLA already had some experience with remote collaboration.
“The people who worked with digital systems found it easier to work at home because we already had a number of systems set up to support remote working, and I think we’ve really deepened those [capabilities] because they’re not really about technical skills, they’re about teamwork skills and how you actually communicate in this environment.”
Dellit added that the push to finish by the end of June was imperative due to changes in funding, which were announced on Friday as the new Trove portal was officially launched.
The federal government provided the NLA with an additional $8 million over the next two years to support ongoing developments with Trove.
Communications, cyber safety and arts Minister Paul Fletcher said the investment will further strengthen the significant national asset.
“When Trove was first launched in 2009, it comprised mostly print content. Over the last decade it has evolved and today approximately 90 percent of Trove’s use is for digital content,” Fletcher said.
“The Tempemail Library and its partner network are to be commended on maintaining, building and contributing to a resource of such cultural and historical significance for all Australians.
“The additional funding will provide ongoing support for the operation of Trove, enabling the Tempemail Library to continue to invest in the development of this outstanding service.”

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Woolworths brings Cisco into large-scale network transformation – Projects – Networking – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Woolworths has revealed it now has over 2000 connected devices in each retail store, a network of over 30,000 access points nationwide it is now transforming the management of.
The company has partnered with Cisco to deploy a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and secure access control system across its operations.
In addition to covering its 3000 stores, the SD-WAN will also network Woolworths’ offices, data centres and distribution centres, with work to be completed over the next 18 months.
iTnews understands upgrades have already been made to Woolworths’ data centre network where benefits are already being realised.
The transformation project was unveiled in mid-June at the US version of the Cisco Live conference.
In a video, it was noted that a decade ago, a store had 40 connected devices. 
“Now, it has over 2000,” the video states. 
“Woolworths has 3000 stores, a network with over 30,000 access points. That’s an opportunity to perform and transform.”
Together with other networked assets outside of its retail stores, it is believed upwards of 86,000 network devices are connected to Woolworths’ network environment.
“Cisco’s SD-WAN and Secure Access is powering our next big step, delivered in a record time, just a few months,” Woolworths’ general manager of IT Patrick Misciagna said.
It is understood, however, that the rollout of Cisco hardware and software is ongoing, with 18 months left to run on the work.
SD-WAN technology is used to manage connectivity between an organisation’s physical sites and clouds, with “real-time traffic steering based on centralised policy”.
Woolworths is anticipating being able to manage its network loads more efficiently and make changes faster in response to network conditions.
The technology is also likely to improve visibility into the performance of the network at different locations.
The size of the deployment is also noteworthy, with the Cisco Live video touting it as “the largest undertaking of its type in the world”.
At the same time as SD-WAN is being deployed, Woolworths is separately upgrading physical connections to its retail stores to NBN fibre, under a deal signed in early 2019.
iTnews reported in September last year that Woolworths was connecting 50 retail sites a week with NBN fibre, for a total of 1200 sites at that time.
It is understood that the company is around 70 percent through a first tranche of 1800 locations identified for NBN cutover, meaning the number is likely to be closer to 1300 now.

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Wyndham City debuts first smart parks and precincts – Projects – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Source: Wyndham City Council, LinkedIn

Wyndham, to the south west of Melbourne, has deployed a range of digitally-enabled solutions across its parks to improve the management and use of facilities.
The trial includes a mixture of public wi-fi, phone charging stations, smart bins, smart barbecues and equipment temperature sensors to improve the overall experience at each site, increase safety and provide more environmentally-friendly amenities.
Wyndham City’s Smart City portfolio holder, Councillor Aaron An said the trial will provide the city council with valuable data about how spaces and facilities are being used by the community.
“Through the Smart Parks and Precincts Project, we will be able to identify when BBQs, benches and exercise equipment are being used; access and movement across Wyndham parks and facilities; and outdoor temperatures and humidity,” An said.
“The data will lead to an improved and more efficient operation and maintenance of Council facilities and inform the future design of parks, community centres and other facilities to best meet the dynamic demands of the community.”
So far only three parks -Wyndham Park in Werribee, Greening the Pipeline Pilot Park in Williams Landing and Central Park Community Centre in Hoppers Crossing – have been included in the trial, but An said other parks and facilities may also receive technological upgrades in the future.
“There is scope to potentially use the sensors to monitor grass height in parks and open spaces, and use robotics for lawn maintenance,” An added.
The project is part of Wyndham City’s Smart City Strategy 2019-2024, which outlines the council’s strategy for becoming a digitally connected city and deliver improved services as the region undergoes a significant population increase.
Other efforts to engage residents and developers in the city resulted in the creation of a ‘CityLens’ augmented reality solution that lets users see the visual impact of planned buildings – even down to where their shadows will fall.
The platform also incorporates data visualisation capabilities, displaying live or projected information from internet of things (IoT) sensors to show how the public use spaces and how resources are consumed.

Sensors and networking equipment attached to solar infrastructure. Source: LinkedIn

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Melbourne Uni scores $4m to launch space capability – Projects – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Source: University of Melbourne

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have received $3.95 million from the Australian government to help develop the nation’s space capability.
Science and engineering researchers at the university will develop a miniature satellite – about the size of a shoebox – due to be launched into space by 2022 in collaboration with local space industry companies and the Italian Space Agency.
Lead investigator of the project, Associate Professor Michele Trenti from the University’s School of Physics, said that despite the Space Industry Responsive Intelligent Thermal (SpIRIT) satellite’s small size, it will be quite powerful.
“It will carry innovative X-ray sensors, sophisticated on-board computers and radios, and even a miniaturised electric propulsion engine, so we could well say that we will be building a tiny robotic spaceship.”
“It will be the first Australian-made spacecraft to host a foreign space agency payload, with an X-ray detector provided by the Italian Space Agency.”
X-ray observations from the craft will be combined with data from a constellation of six other European satellites to spot “cosmic fireworks” produced when stars die or collide with each other.
SpIRIT could also demonstrate that locally made spacecraft can be internationally competitive and open new market opportunities, Trenti added, demonstrating innovative technological elements in the areas of thermal management, real-time communications and on-board autonomous decision capabilities.
Dr Airlie Chapman, co-investigator on the project and senior lecturer in mechatronics from the Melbourne School of Engineering, said building the nanosatellite comes with its own unique challenges.
“This project will help us apply engineering research to break new ground in nanosatellite design, manufacturing and operations, hopefully acting as a guide for Australian aerospace research in the future.”
The funding comes from the government’s International Space Investment – Expand Capability grants, with the UNSW also receiving $700,000 and the University of Canberra scoring $430,000 for their own projects.
SpIRIT is a partnership between the University of Melbourne’s Physics and Engineering Schools, Sitael Australia, Inovor Technologies, Neumann Space, and Nova Systems, with support from the Italian and United Kingdom Space Agencies.

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Children’s Cancer Institute turns to containerisation to power research – Projects – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Children’s Cancer Institute has containerised key bioinformatics pipelines that underpin research into personalised treatments for kids that could one day reduce childhood cancer rates to zero.
Part of the problem the Institute faces is that children often respond differently to cancer treatments than adults, with typical treatments either not working at all or producing adverse side effects.
In trying to interpret the hundreds of terabytes of genomics data produced by a single patient, bioinformaticians at the Institute had created a complicated web of processes and applications that were often reliant on the outputs of other applications, research assistant Sabrina Yan said on the sidelines of the DockerCon Live Summit.
“We run a processing pipeline – a whole genome and RNA sequence process pipeline – that gives the sequencing information from a kid.
“So we sequence their healthy cells and we sequence their tumour cells, we analyse them together and what we do is we find the mutations that are causing the cancer.
“That helps us determine what treatments or what clinical trials might be most effective for the kid.”
Yan said that although the data pipeline worked well, it was dependent on a single platform and required specific programming and data wrangling tools – which were often older versions that were used when the workflow was first created.
To avoid having to re-engineer the entire process from scratch each time the researchers wanted to trial the pipeline on a new cloud instance or different platform, Yan worked with Kamile Taouk, a bioinformatics engineering student and intern at UNSW, to take all of the tools used in the pipeline and individually containerise them using Docker.
The tools were contained with dependencies “so that we could hook them up any way we want,” Yan said.
While Yan and Taouk agree the work has been worth it in the long run, Taouk said the biggest issue was that almost all apps they encountered within the pipeline were “very heavily dependent on very specific versions of so many different apps [that] they would just build upon so many other different apps”.
“’Dockerising’ was quite difficult because we had to preserve every single version of every single dependency in one instance just to ensure that that app was working,” Taouk said.
“These apps get updated semi-regularly, but we have to ensure that our Dockers survive”.
The pair, along with five extra medical interns, spent the summer gradually working through each app, with individual tools taking days or weeks to ‘Dockerise’.
“Some of them are very memory hungry, some of them are very finicky, some of them are a lot more stable than others,” Yan said.
“And so you could spend one day ‘Dockerising’ a tool and it’s done in a handful of hours, or sometimes it could take a week and you’re just getting this one tool done.
“The idea behind the whole team working on it was eventually you slog through this process and then you have a Dockerfile setup where anyone can run it on any system and we know we have an identical setup.”
Taouk described the new pipeline as “ridiculously efficient” now that Docker keeps each version of the different dependencies, with the developers able to specify which version should be used within the container to enable it to run successfully on any machine every time.
This also opens up the ability for the Institute to more easily share data and collaborate with hospitals and other research institutes.
“If there’s some amazing [patient outcome] predictor that comes out, like using some kind of regression or deep learning, if we wanted to add that, being able to ‘Dockerise’ a complex tool into a single Docker app makes it less complicated to add that into the pipeline in the future, if that’s something we’d like to do,” Yan said.

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Fujitsu to lead Tasmania’s massive justice IT overhaul – Strategy – Projects – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Fujitsu has been selected to lead the overhaul of Tasmania’s legacy criminal information management systems under the state’s $24.5 million ‘Justice Connect’ program.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Eise Archer on Tuesday said the state’s Department of Justice had recently commenced contract negotiations with the Fujitsu-led consortium.
It follows an extensive procurement process that began after an initial $16.6 million in funding was set aside for the project in the digital transformation-oriented 2017 state budget.
Fujitsu will work in partnership with US and Canadian software vendors Journal Technologies and Syscon Justice Systems, as well as Hobart-based consultancy Synateq.
They will work to replace “outdated paper-based and manual processes across the courts and correctional environments – that can cause delays for people” – with a new system.
Synateq will provide local support to the project, while Journal Technologies and Syscon Justice Systems will provide the case management software.
The system will connect the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court, as well as the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Tasmanian Prison Service and Community Corrections.
It will also be capable of integrating with Tasmania Police systems. The force last year switched on the state’s new core policing system to replace its vast estate of legacy systems.
Implementation of the project’s first stage, which will focus on criminal and corrective justice, is expected to begin sometime next year following the creation of a prototype.
This will be followed by a second stage that centres on civil justice, with the system expected to be fully operational in 2023.
Archer said “the major digital transformation” through Justice Connect was expected to result in a “more effective and efficient end-to-end justice system for the entire state”.
“This contract represents a significant investment in Tasmania’s justice system, and will be the most extensive technological innovation in the history of Tasmania’s courts and correctional environments, ensuring the integrity of information and delivering greater efficiency,” she said.
Archer said the Fujitsu-led consortium was selected due to its “extensive experience” delivering similar projects both within Australia and abroad, “ensuring Tasmania will be served by technology that meets international best-practice standards”.
She said Fujitsu’s experience includes “NSW courts, police services in every Australian jurisdiction, and many other state and federal government departments”, while “Journal Technologies serves over 500 court and justice agencies globally”.
Journal Technologies was also recently selected to implement a new case management system for Victoria’s Magistrates’ Court and Children’s Court at a cost of $89.2 million. The company is also working on a similar project for South Australia’s Courts Administration Authority.
Syscon also has experience working with “some of the largest and most complex corrections agencies in the world, including NSW, the UK, Canada and the USA”, Archer said, adding that Synateq also has over 20 years’ experience, including working with Fujitsu.

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Data61 developing autonomous bot to clear landmines – Projects – Hardware – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The CSIRO’s Data61 is developing fully autonomous robots to tackle the dangerous, if dull, task of finding and deactivating landmines left over from conflicts.
Demining is currently a painstaking manual process that kills or injures over 100 deminers a year that involves using a metal detector, stick or brush to find and expose the buried landmine before it can be removed by hand and the firing mechanism detached.
That means it meets the three criteria of dirty, dull and dangerous work that make it an ideal task for robotic intervention, according to Dr Paul Cronin from Data61’s project partner Molten-Labs.
“The aim of this project is to develop an autonomous demining robot, or more accurately, a swarm of autonomous demining robots that work together to quickly, safely, and inexpensively remove explosive mines in humanitarian crisis zones.”
The project is currently in early stages of development, with the team just completed the first of five phases, refining a proprietary navigation system built by Data61 that specialises in rough terrain.
Part of the system involves spraying red and white lane markings on the ground as the robot traverses the minefield, serving the dual purpose of showing which land has already been cleared and providing more precise guidance for the robot than would be possible with GPS.

The robot depositing red and white lane markings to ensure complete area coverage. The vehicle follows its own deposited lanes, over spraying the red ‘danger’ lane marking with a white ‘all safe’. This allows for more accuracy than GPS alone, and gives a clear visual indicator to locals of where the safe boundaries are.

Further stages of development involve developing the robot’s ability to find the metal components of mines and distinguish them from pieces of metallic trash using two different metal detector arrays.
The first will be a wide-area detector fixed on the front of the robot that can quickly cover large swathes of land and locate landmines before the robot has run over them and potentially destroyed expensive equipment.
Next, an articulated robotic arm will extend with a more precise metal detector to examine the area and pinpoint the landmine before destroying it with an oxy-acetylene torch that burns through the explosives in the mine without detonating it – a process known as deflagration.
“These demining robots will be able to enter the minefield immediately, without the need to train local operators,” Cronin said.
“By using a swarm of these machines that are supported by a small core team of highly qualified personnel, clearance work can begin almost immediately upon arrival.
“Our system is inherently safer than current demining, as the robotic vehicles do not require deminers to be in the minefield. Instead, the technical support team will be 100 metres away from the nearest operating robot.”
Data61 said there have been 122,000 landmine casualties since global tracking began in 1999, with 25 percent occurring between 2015 to 2018 and a substantial percentage children.

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