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A Western Australia-based solar glass developer has begun installing the company’s transparent solar PV integrated glass units (IGU) on-site at the $7.45m grains research precinct at Perth’s Murdoch University. The greenhouse will utilise the company’s transparent solar glass technology which is designed to preserve glass transparency while generating electricity.

Data supplied by the company indicates the technology delivers a minimum of 30 watts per sqm while maintaining 70% transparency. The IGUs feature solar PV cells around the edges of each unit. The units incorporate a nanoparticle interlayer and spectral-selective coating on the rear external surface which allow much of the light to pass through but redirects infrared and UV light to the edge of the IGU where it is harvested by solar cells.

The company’s CEO stated that the company expects the greenhouse, when operational, will generate greater market awareness of its building-integrated PV (BIPV) technology. They are starting to see strong interest globally for the firm’s product from greenhouse suppliers, growers and other protected cropping end-users, he said. They expect the fully constructed greenhouse to lead to even greater market awareness of the technology and product.

The main construction of the supporting greenhouse structure was completed in December 2020 and the installation of glazing is expected to be finished within the coming weeks ahead of commissioning with plant trials due to start in March or April 2021.

The greenhouse is being built adjacent to two recently completed polycarbonate research greenhouses that form part of a larger research precinct. The project is the first commercial-scale demonstration of the company’s PV IGU technology in a protected-cropping agriculture setting and the company is confident it will perform well.

The solar glass developer’s datasheet indicates traditional greenhouses experience a temperature range of +/-6° from optimum temperature while its technology delivers a temperature range of +/-2° from the optimum temperature, providing an increased growth rate of up to 20-30%.

The CEO stated that the company looks forward to updating the market once the greenhouse is commissioned in the next few months, and as the larger research aspects of the project progresses.

When work began on the greenhouse in December, the CEO noted that the project marked a “major milestone for the company”. The trial results would not only help facilitate the commercial application of the technology across protected-cropping agriculture markets but also across high-rise commercial buildings.

While BIPV is yet to enjoy the same widespread deployment as building-applied PV (BAPV), it has been identified by the Australian PV Institute (APVI) as one of five key avenues for increased market penetration of PV. The APVI said the multi-functionality of BIPV meant it had huge potential.

More on the transparent solar glass technology

According to another article, the company’s proprietary transparent luminescent solar concentrator is a spectrally selective polyvinyl butyral interlayer sandwiched between two panes of glass. Most visible light is transmitted through the glass, but infrared light is deflected by inorganic particles in the interlayer to solar cells in the frame. UV light is converted to infrared and also deflected to cells on the window perimeter via total internal reflection.

A luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) is made from plastic or glass with fluorescent materials or quantum dots in or on it. The hope for the LSC is that cheap dyes or phosphors can make the system inexpensive as well as tolerant of defects or angle.

The luminescent ingredients can be dialled-in to absorb and re-emit at selected wavelengths. Luminophores used in LSCs can be quantum dots, rare-earth ions, nanoclusters and organic molecules. There has been a recent move away from organic dyes towards more stable inorganic phosphors.

The Labor Government is helping make Victoria the renewable energy state, with more than half a million households now generating their own energy through solar and saving hundreds a year off their power bills. As many as one in every five homes have solar panels on their roof – with that number set to rise further still with the Labor Government’s latest incentives to get more Victorians making the renewable energy switch.

The latest data shows there are now 510,000 small-scale solar PV systems in Victoria – all together they generate almost a third of the state’s total residential electricity demand, with more than 15,000 households also having a solar battery.

The Government is working to continue to make it easy for more homeowners to go solar, with eligible Victorians able to access both a rebate and interest-free loan of up to $1,850 each when installing solar panels or up to $4,174 off the cost of installing a household battery system.

Households with solar panels can save up to $890 a year and another $640 with a battery. Given the popularity of battery rebates, postcode restrictions have now been lifted, meaning households across the state can apply.

Recent data on the program – which will create at least 5,500 jobs over its lifespan – also shows November 2020 was the biggest month for solar battery rebate uptake (429 applications), while December 2020 was the biggest month for battery installations (183).

Almost 1,900 Victorian households have now applied for a Solar Homes household battery since the program started in July 2019 – and fortnightly allocations are being snapped up almost as soon as they go online. The Government is making 17,500 rebates available over the next three years to keep up with demand.

While grid connection and the associated feed-in tariff is a motivator for some households to install a home battery, the best opportunity for savings comes from using the power that a solar system creates during daylight hours and storing excess energy in a battery. For more information about solar rebates, go to solar.vic.gov.au.

The region’s Minister for Solar Homes stated that Victoria has embraced renewable energy – and the aim is to see these impressive figures rise even higher. Solar is good for jobs, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for bringing down power bills. The recent expansion of the Government’s solar battery rebate program will help Victorians store their affordable rooftop energy and boost local solar businesses as Victoria’s economic recovery continues.

A recent article noted that Australia saw a surge of small-scale utility solar in 2020 owing to the path of least resistance found by systems around the 5 MW range. At that capacity, the systems can fly under the radar of much of the network’s congestion woes. A solar farm in South Australia’s Mid-Murray region was completed in February and is just one example.

Another Renmark-based electrical services company has already developed 80 MW of small-scale solar farms in the last five years, and this year they teamed up with Sustainable Energy Infrastructure to develop another 20 MW by the middle of 2021.

As evidence enough of the small/medium-scale surge in provided by the fact that in December the sector found its first dedicated investment vehicle – Solarion Renewable Fund – which aims to fill the gap in medium-scale solar in Australia with a target portfolio of over 200 MW in the next few years.

Australia’s largest free-range chicken farm also switched on one of the biggest solar plus energy storage systems of any commercial farm in the country in November. With 1.4 MW of rooftop solar combining with 2.28 MWh of energy storage via 5 Tesla lithium-ion batteries, the farm is excited to save enormous amounts on its energy bill and its emissions.

The University of Melbourne will deploy endpoint detection and response technology across its IT environment this year and improve its access to threat intelligence as part of a broader five-year cybersecurity uplift. Details of the uplift – which is currently in its second year – are contained in a submission by the University to a federal inquiry into national security risks affecting the Australian higher education and research sector.

The first year of the uplift had focused on reducing the university’s vulnerability to cyber threats while balancing a practical need for platforms that support academic autonomy and collaboration, it said.

In line with the experience of tertiary education providers around the world, the university routinely encounters and defends against cybersecurity threats, including sophisticated attacks that cannot be attributed to any known threat actors. The university is cognisant of the fact that advanced persistent threat (APT) actors regularly test its defences.

The university said it had recently run a threat modelling exercise with an external consultancy to provide a better understanding of the threats the university faces, but will also generate a controls library that will be mapped to an industry-standard framework (NIST).

This project will additionally generate a list of risks, associated threats, and clarify the university’s effectiveness of response, all leading to a stronger cybersecurity ecosystem, the university noted.

In addition, with biomedical researchers at the university conducting various Covid-19 work, the university said it had collaborated with the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) to run a cyber hygiene improvement programs (CHIPs) scan to provide the university with information for the purpose of visibility, analysis and risk management.

As the university moves into the second year of its five-year uplift, it intends to introduce an endpoint detection and response (EDR) capability into its IT environment. This will enhance the cybersecurity team’s ability to rapidly respond to threats even in remotely located university assets, the university said.

The EDR will be augmented by consuming a commercial threat intelligence feed to identify TTPs [tactics, techniques and procedures] for advanced threat actors and risk conditions.  In addition, a proactive threat hunting program will also be introduced to provide additional visibility into the environment.

The university said it had doubled the size of its cybersecurity team over the past two years. It has also rolled out multifactor authentication (MFA) for all staff accounts and will do the same for student accounts sometime this year.

Updating Australia’s cybersecurity

In an earlier article, OpenGov Asia reported that The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is enhancing the Information Security Registered Assessor Program (IRAP) to strengthen the cybersecurity assessment framework. The agency has released an updated IRAP policy and a new IRAP Assessor Training module following an independent review of the program.

The enhanced program has been designed to help develop the capabilities of industry partners, increase the number of cybersecurity assessors and bolster national cybersecurity efforts. It has been developed in consultation with government and industry representatives.

Changes include increases to the standard and consistency of cybersecurity advice provided by IRAP assessors by requiring these assessors to maintain and demonstrate ICT security knowledge.

Other changes include a minimum requirement for IRAP assessors to maintain a Negative Vetting Level 1 Security Clearance, and enhanced governance arrangements in place for assuring IRAP assessors are performing their roles as independent third parties.

The ACSC has also established a revised five-day IRAP training course, which covers both IRAP and Information Security Manual fundamentals. The new policy will apply to all assessments initiated going forward, and current IRAP assessors will have 24 months to meet new requirements outlined in the policy.

The Australian government recently engaged software and data specialists to set up IT systems capable of managing and tracking the logistics of a Covid-19 vaccination program.

With four promising Covid-19 vaccine candidates progressing through clinical trials – and the first vaccine approved for emergency use in the US and UK – governments worldwide face the task of managing a globally coordinated supply chain effort to vaccinate their populations quickly and safely.

Once a vaccine is approved as safe and effective, which is expected to be early 2021, the Australian government is responsible for safely transporting doses from suppliers to the storage and administration sites. It will also have oversight of the locations of doses, stock levels, locations for vaccination and who has been vaccinated.

To manage the large scale, high-demand vaccination program, IT systems will be required to bridge multiple data sources and provide supply chain visibility and future demand forecasting.

Legislation has also been introduced to make it easier to keep tabs on who has received the jab, through an updated national immunisation register.

The government has started work identifying key system capabilities and gaps across the digital, data and reporting systems that will help to manage public demand, minimise reporting overhead, and improve the efficacy of the rollout.

A department of health spokesperson stated that this involves the consolidation of data from many existing systems and sources so that there is a central source of information about each dose and each vial. This end-to-end capability will allow the government to understand where doses are needed, improve vaccine access and avoid issues of excess stock or wastage.

The government is working to ensure it can track the location of vaccine stock at any time and is also engaging software and data specialists to ensure vaccines can be tracked at every stage in their journey, from receipt from the manufacturer through to post-immunisation monitoring.

Currently, orders and supply of other vaccines to states and territories are managed through the Department of Health’s vaccine administration system. However, the department does not have oversight or a contractual arrangement to oversee the forecasting, supply and distribution of those vaccines in the private market.

These arrangements are managed by individual vaccine manufacturers and suppliers. Local distribution of other vaccines such as the seasonal flu vaccine under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) is managed by individual states and territories.

Distribution

The federal government is also working with its state and territory counterparts, vaccine makers and logistics companies to coordinate the rollout of the vaccine.

A local transportation and logistics company is among those providing logistics advice about the options for cold-chain supply for healthcare cargo to both state and federal health departments as well as preparing to play a role in distributing the vaccine across the country.

Rather than building or buying a new IT infrastructure, the firm’s preparations to help distribute the vaccine will rely on the system it uses to distribute millions of influenza vaccine doses each year. Their distribution system is directly linked to their transport management system for shipments and a customer track and trace portal (MyToll) which can be used to monitor shipments. Information can be shared from the firm’s enterprise systems via APIs, system integration, web portals and reports.

These same systems can be scaled up to manage the distribution of the 40-50 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine that are anticipated will be required in Australia.

Immunisation status

System enhancements will also need to be made to the Australian Immunisation Register, a national database which will be used to record all Covid-19 vaccinations.

Earlier this month the federal government introduced legislation to make it mandatory for vaccine providers to report all vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) to help track and trace who is and isn’t protected against Covid-19.

The AIR is a whole-of-life national immunisation register that captures vaccines administered to those living in Australia.

However, reporting vaccinations to AIR is currently voluntary meaning the government doesn’t have a complete picture of who is vaccinated.

While vaccinations would remain voluntary, it would become mandatory to report that vaccines have been provided,” a spokesperson for the Department of Health said. Mandatory reporting in the Australian Immunisation Register means that people will be able to view an immunisation certificate through their My Health Record (MHR).

MHR is already connected to the AIR and could be used to generate immunisation certificates or alerts to remind Australians to get their second dose of the vaccine. Immunisation history statements, generated by AIR, can also be viewed and printed via Medicare Online, myGov or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app.

A team of Griffith health technology researchers has won the iAwards 2020 Business Industry Solution of the Year with a device they created to better identify and treat pain. The Menzies Health Institute Queensland NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow Dr Daniel Harvie and his team of PhD candidate Nick Olthof and Griffith Electronic and Computer Engineering alumnus Dylan Chippindall won the national award after taking out the state prize in October 2020.

Photo: The iTAD, Griffith University, Press Release

Their invention, the Imprint Tactile Acuity Device (iTAD), will soon be tested in clinical trials. The national award recognises their research as an innovative step in the right direction. Dr Harvie said they aimed to solve a significant issue in a practical way, with the cause of persistent pain often invisible, and thus very difficult to treat.

“Tactile acuity is the ability to precisely feel the location and quality of touch on the body,” Dr Harvie said. “This sensory impairment has shown to correspond to changes in the area of the brain that processes information from the body (and) it has been proposed that re-training tactile acuity might reduce pain by reversing these changes.”

The iTAD is a device that delivers vibro-tactile impulses through 12 nodes, imbedded in a wearable strap and is designed to create greater visibility when treating pain.

The new science suggests that changes in the nervous system can be a key cause and the iTAD can help identify and treat those changes in the nervous system, Dr Harvie said. “Using our wirelessly connected tablet, clinicians like physiotherapists can measure how accurately patients can perceive sensations and they can identify people who might benefit from sensory training using the device.”

Not only does the iTAD provide an interface for sensory testing and training games while offering feedback to patients and therapists, but it is also more efficient than its alternatives. The iTAD fills a real gap in the management of a massive problem and it does so in a practical way.

Wearable tech on the rise

The wearable market in Australia is expected to register a CAGR of 14.5% during the forecast period from 2020 to 2025, according to recent research. Smart wearables offer a multitude of features, which include fitness tracking, managing daily tasks, checking emails and making contactless payments, etc. Hence the change of consumer lifestyle and rising awareness of advanced technology will influence the growth of this market.

The Australian wearable market is multiplying due to the faster adoption of advanced technologies into wearable objects such as eyewear, wristband, and watch. These technologically advanced products are used in military, health, and wellness, the fitness of general people.

Moreover, increasing awareness about health consciousness among Australian people is fuelling the growth of this market. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has expanded the role of wearable technologies in the healthcare sector. These wearable products can offer different types of information, which include blood pressure, oxygen levels, quality and quantity of sleep, calorie intake, cholesterol levels, etc.

According to the Digital Report 2020, 21% smartwatch, and 3.2% virtual reality device users are using the internet for their device connections., However, data piracy threats are restraining the growth of this market.

Furthermore, researchers and technology companies in Australia are focusing on Covid-19 contact tracing with the use of wearables. Key vendors in this market are also focusing on this opportunity to grab the market potential during this unprecedented time.

However, the high cost of manufacturing and the shorter lifecycle of these electronics products poses a significant threat to this market. Additionally, wearable device manufacturers often have significant amounts of money on research and development, marketing, the promotion. Hence, this high-cost and rapidly changing technological environment can influence the growth of this market.

Machines for detecting skin cancer are being trialled in Australia this year in a telehealth pilot program that will help inform future melanoma-spotting algorithms. Run out of the University of Queensland’s (UQ) Diamantina Institute, the program will see 15 walk-in skin cancer imaging machines installed in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.

Professor Monika Janda from UQ said the research seeks to improve early the identification rates for Australia’s most common cancer. She noted, “First and primarily this tool will provide clinicians with photographs for their own clinical diagnoses – it is invaluable for them to have total body imaging available for future reference.”

The machines look similar to full-body airport scanners. Once stripped off and standing inside the machine, patients are simultaneously photographed by 92 cameras. After software renders and combines the images, the result is a digital avatar of the patient’s skin.

Crucially, this image can be examined remotely by expert dermatologists who, like many medical specialists, are few and far between in regional Australia.

Telehealth powered by this sort of imaging machine could be a gamechanger for identifying skin cancers – of which Australia has one of the highest rates in the world.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) provided a $9.9 million grant toward the program and is establishing the ACRF Australian Centre of Excellence in Melanoma Imaging and Diagnosis at UQ’s Diamantina Institute.

The CEO of the ACRF stated that technology is a cornerstone of helping reduce the number of people who die by skin cancer.

“Through technology, if we can find better ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer, then we will be able to save lives. This is a very worthy recipient of a major grant and it will help diagnosis – and treatment – to come sooner for many Australians,” she said.

Aside from testing the interoperability and data privacy of these complex devices, the researchers will also look at augmenting them with image recognition algorithms.

Large amounts of de-identified data gathered from the first stage of research will help teach and improve those machine-learning algorithms and will build an Australian dataset that better takes into account the high levels of sun exposure and radiation damage our skin tends to have.

Already the International Skin Imaging Collaboration (ISIC) runs a yearly classification challenge which this year published open data of 33,000 images to train machine vision algorithms.

Ongoing research into machine learning for cancer detection has proved fruitful with a 2018 German research paper finding that a convolutional neural network outperformed some expert dermatologists at classifying skin cancers.

However, while she is optimistic about the power of AI for cancer detection, Professor Janda thinks it is important to remember the human role in medicine. People have on average between 55 to upwards of 400 pigmented skin lesions – and even more non-pigmented lesions, she said.

In the future, an AI could point out which lesions look okay and which might be harmful. It could also be a tool that clinicians use to check against when they are unsure. That could save time and simplify things for clinicians – but AI will never replace them, she added.

The professor concluded by noting that a clinician will always be needed to double-check things and be responsible for making final decisions. They are also the ones who have to be there talking with patients, explaining things, and making treatment plans.

It is now possible to log on to Australia’s myGov platform using digital identity credential myGovID, which is expected to add face biometrics and liveness detection later this year. MyGov is an ecosystem that allows Australians access to several government services online, and the recent addition of the digital ID feature to the login options is seen as a milestone in efforts by the country’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) in putting in place a more secure access system to the service.

The new feature was rolled out following a mid-year pilot in 2020 and at the time of reporting over 1.7 million Australians had already created a myGovID digital identity.

Before the rollout, it was possible to access the myGov platform using a two-factor login authentication option, and the novelty means there are now also no major worries about forgetting one’s login password.

With the new feature, it is possible for users who have connected the two platforms to sign into myGov using either a one-time code in the myGovID app or continue using a password. The myGovID login credential, the report adds, can also be used to access a beta version of myGov which is being trialled with new features and services to replace the one currently in use.

This development precedes plans by the DTA in adding a biometric liveness detection mechanism to myGovID so that it can allow people to have access to more confidential government services.

It was noted that a pilot for the liveness detection option is planned for September this year; and with it, an individual can have their identity verified by having selfie biometrics matched against an identity document held in a database. This will help prove that the person about logging onto myGov is a live person and is physically present, in a move that aims to stymie the creation of fraudulent digital IDs.

Moreover, Australia plans to put in place a law that ensures privacy safeguards regarding the digital ID new scheme, and that a huge sum of money has been set aside for the development and upgrade of the myGov platform.

According to the government website, digital Identity provides Australian people and businesses with a single, secure way to access government and other services online. The Digital Identity system includes everything from the policy and processes governing the system, to the technology and systems that allow it to work.

A secure Digital Identity replaces the need for multiple logins across a range of government services, making getting things done with government easier and faster.

The DTA is managing this whole-of-government program, delivering it in partnership with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Services Australia, Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The system will expand over time to include more government agencies and private sector organisations.

Creating and using a Digital Identity is voluntary and a personal choice. People can still access government services in other ways, such as on the phone or in-person at a government shopfront.

Australia’s Digital Identity system is made up of agencies, private sector businesses and systems working together to deliver a secure way to prove someone’s identity online to access services. It is governed by the Interim Oversight Authority.

The Digital Identity system includes 4 types of accredited participants:

  • Identity service providers– help you set up and manage your Digital Identity account. If you choose to create and use a Digital Identity, then your identity provider will be your gateway into the Digital Identity system. Face Verification Service and Document Verification Service are sometimes used by your identity service provider to verify your identity online. myGovID is the government identity provider. There will more as the system develops.
  • Attribute service providers– verify specific attributes relating to entitlements or characteristics of an individual (for example, that you have a particular qualification). The ATO’s Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) is an example of an attribute service provider.
  • Credential service providers– play a critical role in keeping the system secure and safe. They take care of all credentials such as passwords and other forms of access restrictions used in the system.
  • Identity exchange– acts like a switchboard, transferring information, with your consent, between relying parties, identity service providers and attribute service providers, in a way which is secure and respects your privacy.

The NSW Department of Customer Service’s Spatial Services division has teamed up with the CSIRO’s Data61 to make the state government’s Digital Twin available to assist emergency services in developing effective emergency management strategies.

The Digital Twin Visualisation Service, developed in collaboration with Data61, will be updated with a new 3D spatial dataset mapping the locations of telecommunications towers and critical assets across NSW.

This new dataset will be used to enable emergency services to better protect these vital locations before and during a disaster. The new capability has been developed in response to the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry, which identified the loss of connectivity as one of the recurring issues faced during the devastating last bushfire season.

The enquiry found that the reliable sharing of critical infrastructure, telecommunications and spatial information will be a key component to preventing a similarly devastating summer in 2020–21.

The Head of Resilience NSW and previously NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner stated that there is nothing more powerful than the spatial layers to paint the picture about what’s at risk, so having access to the Digital Twin allows for the investigation into preventative and mitigation strategies.

He added, “in an unfolding emergency, like a bushfire, we can know in advance what’s likely to happen in that fire in the next few days, making sure we can shore up protection as much as we can. Having a Digital Twin for communications infrastructure means we can factor into our risk planning and our annual treatments in the months and years before a fire impact.”

The Data61 Web Geospatial Systems Group Leader also noted that the collaboration highlights Data61’s role as an ecosystem enabling data infrastructure, helping governments and industry make better planning decisions.

He said the Digital Twin Visualisation Service leverages Data61’s deep strength in web-mapping and visualising data in 4D (3D + time, which is the ability to look forward and back in time) to build a real-world digital twin that can help protect communities and assets in times of need.

Using tech to help navigate bushfires

OpenGov Asia previously reported on the recently-launched  My Bushfire Plan website and mobile app which guide users through the creation of a plan in easy-to-follow steps that can be completed in just minutes. Designed and built-in WA, the new platform is an Australian first innovation commissioned by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

The website and companion app will assist people to make critical decisions ahead of the bushfire season. It will help them decide what they will do if a bushfire threatens their home and guide them to identify when they will leave, what they will take and where they will go.

Having a plan in place before a bushfire strikes can make all the difference when decisions made during a highly stressful event can cost lives. The new website and app were launched in conjunction with a bushfire awareness advertising campaign.

The campaign urges people to rethink their personal risk with just one in 10 Western Australians having a bushfire plan. The $1 million How Fireproof is Your Plan? campaign asks the community to evaluate their bushfire plans by showing the devastating consequences of being caught in a raging fire.

The new My Bushfire Plan website and mobile app are very straightforward and contain some vital information that can save lives or properties. Users must know beforehand what actions they will take during a bushfire and having a plan in place at their fingertips during an emergency could be the difference between life and death.

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