On Wednesday the National ICT Australia (NICTA) displayed the results of some of its research at Parliament House in Canberra. Demonstrations of the Smart Transport and Roads Project were particularly impressive. This is being tested in Sydney to reduce traffic congestion.
Looking at the demonstration of the Real Time Traffic Sensing and Surveillance it occurred to me that this could be useful for the Australian Defence Force in Iraq.
NICTA was established in 2002 to do ICT research and now has laboratories in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane. I attended one of the consultation meetings in 2001 on how the project should be run and it is good to see that some of the proposals for making the center distributed have worked out. About $AU1B has been invested by the Australian community in NICTA and it is good to finally see some tangible output start to appear.
While NICTA put on a good demonstration, there is still room for improvement. Several of the plasma screens used had an incorrect aspect ratio set. As a result everyone in the videos looked fat and graphics distorted. This is a common mistake made with digital signage, but not one ICT experts should make.
Also NICTA needed to put more than a minim of dull text on their web site. The smart roads project involves interesting use of graphics and video, but that is not evident on the web site, nor is there evidence of research results, such as scientific papers, conference presentations, open source software, or patents. That would take some effort to do, but much less than a glitzy demonstration at Parliament House. NICTA need to convince more than just the Parliamentarians that the investment made so far has been worthwhile and should be continued.