Monday, November 30, 2009

Is Lulu still in busness?

I am a little worried that my book "Green Technology Strategies" does not seem to be available via Lulu.com. Something seems to have gone wrong when I requested the extra option of distribution through Amazon.com and book stores. Instead what seems to have happened that no one can order it, even via Lulu.

Cities for People

Greetings from the The Shine Dome in Canberra where Professor Jan Gehl is presenting the 2009 Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture. Professor Gehl conducted the "Sydney CBD Public Life and Public Spaces Survey" and is the author of "Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space". He started with Robert Mann New York traffic engineer, he proposed the "lomax" (Lower Manhattan Express way). In response Jan Jacobs rallied the neighbourhood and went on to write "The Death and Life of Great American Cities". He then went on to talk about after graduation and learning how people use architecture and what was wrong with architectural education. He strives to go beyond two dimensional rendering which architects use to worry about the dynamics of human use of architecture.

Professor Gehl was critical of Le Corbusier's 1924 planning, where the citizens may only get some greenery on a wall to look at. He also criticised the CIAM Athens Charter 1933 which aimed to separate people and transport. From the 1950s as cars became affordable, the problem became to find more space for cars and planners had become traffic engineers. The result was tall buildings with all the spaces between them taken by cars. The dignity of people was lost in the process with the car taking precedent. Cities are valuable because they allow people to meet each other face to face and cars degrade this.

In the eighties old urbanism was rediscovered with housing tower blocks demolished.

The 1998 Second Athens Charter of City Planning reversed the previous charter arguing that housing and transport should be unified. Many architects were already practising this, but some not. In 2009 in Dubai, Frank Gehry is still proposing 1920s Le Corbusier style impersonal buildings. Professor Gehl described this as "Bird Shit" architecture, dropped from the sky to pollute the urban fabric. He showed the example of Kenzo Tange's, Singapore waterfront high rise.

Professor Gehl used Copenhagen 1962 to 2009 as an example of what to do. In 1962 the main street was pedestrianised, with great success. Progressively 18 public squares were turned from parking lots into people squares. He charted the change in reasons for visiting the city, which changed from "Necessity" in 1900, "Transport" 1950, Shopping 1960, to Enjoyment in 2000. An illustration of this is the growth of the cappuccino culture. Even in Cophenagan's climate, people are happy to be outside all but two months of the year.

In the 1960's Copenhagen considered phasing out bicycles, but this was reversed by the first oil crisis. Copenhagen developed a network of bicycle paths separated from car traffic. They also have priority traffic lights for bicycles and green lanes. The lights are timed to allow a continual flow of bicycles, with cars having the wait. This is the reverse of the trend in Beijing, where bicycles are being squeezed off the roads.

In Copenhagen new roads are being designed with only one lane in each direction for cars, plus bicycle lanes, but in such a way they have a higher car capacity than a four lane road. Taxis and trains are also equipped to carry bicycles.

Professor Gehl contrasted Brisbane and Copenhagen bicycle use. Bicycle use in Brisbane was much lower, with ,most cyclists being young males treating it as an "extreme sport", whereas Copenhagen has almost as many women as men at a much more relaxed pace. However, the Copenhagen cyclists looked hardy when cycling through snow storms.

Discussing Australia, Professor Gehl detailed Melbourne's success at attracting people to the city. He saw a similar positive future for Sydney, with trams and bicycle lanes planned.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rugged Mobile Phones

Rugged mobile phones, which are water, vibration and dust proof are useful for people who work outdoors and appeal to those who like the outdoors look. Current models available in Australia include: Nokia 3720 Classic, Samsung B2700, Sonim XP3 Quest, Telstra Tough T90. The Sonim is at the extreme end of ruggedness, claiming to meet the IP-67 rating ("dust tight", "powerful water jets") and MIL-810F for vibration. The Nokia model looks most like a normal mobile phone, but still claims a IP-54 rating ("dust protected", "splashing water").

However, with a rugged phone you ten to end up with a unit which is more expensive, larger, heavier and has fewer features. As an example the rtugged unit may only be a GSM phone (not 3G). These phones tend to also have smaller screens.

Also keep in mind that the dust and water resistance ratings depend on little rubber plugs covering the USB, earphone and charging socket. If you change your phone every day or transfer from a car kit, theses rubber plugs tend to get broken or lost. Genuine military specification equipment comes with sockets which do not need covers to keep the water tight or with plugs which are firmly tethered by short chains. While marketing for rugged mobile refers to military specifications, real military users tend to use ordinary mobile phones, kept in waterproof cases, rather than ruggedised units.

As an alternative you can add a soft rubber sleeve or hard case to the more popular models of smart phones. As an example the OtterBox Defender Case series for Nokia E71, Blackberry and Apple iPhones. These hard cases are not necessary water proof. Also they are not available for the lower cost phones, but the combination of a higher cost smart phone and case may still be less than a specialised rugged model phone.

Keep in mind the rugged phones are designed for making phone calls, not web access or GPS navigation. Also these phone depend on the terrestrial phone network. If you are going to make calls from out of the way places.

Realising Our Broadband Future

The Australian Government is hosting "Realising Our Broadband Future" in Sydney, 10-11 December 2009. Speakers include Mike Quigley (NBN Co), Vinton Cerf (Google), Paul Twomey (Internet Corporation), Kevin Rudd, Stephen Conroy and Kate Lundy (Australian Government) and David Bartlett (Tasmanian Government). The event is free and anyone can register to attend.

The event has five streams, each with a "lead editor":
  1. Smart Infrastructure: Alan Noble (Google)
  2. Digital Education: Bruce Dixon (Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation)
  3. e-Community: Genevieve Bell (Intel)
  4. e-Health: Peter Fleming (National E-Health Transition Authority)
  5. e-Business: Bruce McCabe (KPMG)
The Interim report of the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network questions how far the NBN will extend into regional areas and if there are measures to assess the performance of the NBN . Hopefully this will be addressed at the event.

I will be attended the Digital Education stream of the event> In hope to be able to tell delegates about my Green Technology Strategies e-learning course which is now offered to postgraduates students of eight Australian universities and to launch the companion book of course notes.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

National Broadband Network Senate Report

Interim report of the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network has been released. The report questions how far it will extend into regional areas and if there are measures to assess the performance of the NBN . The report is available as a set of web pages and PDF files chapter by chapter and as one reasonably sized PDF file (701KB).

The committee was dominated by opposition Senators, but even so is relatively mild in its criticism of the NBN. There are dissenting reports by the Government Senators and The Greens. The Government Senators concentrate on pointing out how good an NBN would be for the nation and the Greens on how previous government decisions on Telstra have limited current choices.

The issue of coverage in regional areas is an unsolved problem. There is no proven technology which can deliver the same speed in regional areas as in cities at an affordable price.

The Australian Government is hosting "Realising Our Broadband Future", 10-11 December 2009, with Mike Quigley (NBN Co), Vinton Cerf (Google), Paul Twomey (Internet Corporation), Kevin Rudd, Stephen Conroy and Kate Lundy (Australian Government) and David Bartlett (Tasmanian Government). No doubt issues of regional access will be discussed.

Conclusion 1

2.26 The committee is of the opinion that, in order to prevent a difference of measurement modelling, similar to that which occurred with the assessment of the OPEL bid, possibly resulting in a consequential delay to the NBN implementation, it would be beneficial for all stakeholders to know which modelling the department will use to assess the coverage footprint.

2.38 It is the committee's view that it would be an extremely unsatisfactory result for the NBN, such a significant government investment, which has been contributed to by all Australian taxpayers, to reach only a small percentage of a state's geographical area while leaving a very high proportion of rural and remote citizens without access to the NBN.

Conclusion 2

2.42 At the time of this report going to print, neither the department nor the Australian Government had provided any guidance or further clarification of the composition of the 98 per cent NBN coverage footprint. The committee believes that the government needs to provide this clarification to proponents and stakeholders alike to ensure a level of confidence that the significant $4.7 billion funding will benefit in particular those Australians that are already underserved or unserved. Particular attention is required to address the needs of those remote areas that are currently generating a large percentage of Australia's wealth yet are in the most underserviced areas.

Conclusion 3

2.73 The committee believes that submissions received and evidence taken to date strongly support the need for the term 'open access arrangements' to be more clearly defined. The committee calls on the government to provide a clarification of this term, which is critical to encouraging ongoing competition in the industry. This would ensure that there is no potential for a successful bidder to interpret the term to its own competitive advantage.

2.109 The committee acknowledges concerns of affordability and service provision, which have the potential to impact on the long-term sustainability of the NBN operator in providing a viable return of investment.

Conclusion 4

2.127 The committee questions the appropriateness of the timeline for the evaluation of the RFP, believing it will not permit the necessary level of scrutiny by either the Expert Panel or the ACCC to select the successful proponent for the NBN.

Chapter 3

3.48 The committee considers that the government should have provided a regulatory framework within the RFP; this would have provided proponents with greater certainty in building their business case for the NBN, while also providing a legal framework for the assessment of proposals.

Conclusion 5

3.56 The committee concludes that omitting to specify the structure of the new network has caused confusion and uncertainty among potential bidders and industry stakeholders.

3.88 The committee supports the general consensus that any new regulations that underpin the NBN should ensure that any operator/owner of the new network cannot participate in anti-competitive behaviour.

3.112 The committee encourages the government to effectively utilises this historic opportunity for regulatory change.

Conclusion 6

3.124 The committee believes that it is in the interest of the government, the industry and the Australian people to ensure that delays to the timeframe for implementation of the NBN are kept to a minimum. Notwithstanding this, the committee considers that the government should incorporate appropriate and timely opportunities for consultation with the industry on suggested regulatory changes.

Conclusion 7

3.125 The committee also believes that the government could easily remove several avenues of possible legal challenge by incorporating industry consultation into the process, even at this late stage.

Chapter 4

Conclusion 8

4.55 The committee believes that the requirement in the RFP for the NBN design to be based on a FTTN or FTTP platform should be broadened to enable a greater level of technology convergence where this is more appropriate than fibre.

Conclusion 9

4.76 The committee acknowledges the complexity of the deployment of the NBN. However, the committee concludes that the most effective use of this substantial expenditure would be to ensure that those Australian homes and businesses that are currently most disadvantaged should be prioritised for initial deployment of the NBN. That is, areas that are currently underserved or unserved should have broadband deployed first, with infrastructure subsequently rolled-IN towards the cities from those underserved areas, which are generally in regional, rural and remote communities.

Conclusion 10

4.77 The committee concludes that the best model for planning the deployment schedule would incorporate high levels of coordination and ongoing involvement by local and state governments with the Commonwealth Government. This would also provide assurance of support through appropriate regulatory changes within each tier of government.

Conclusion 11

4.78 The committee also concludes that there needs to be a carefully considered transition plan to migrate both existing service providers and their customers to the new network over the five year period specified in the RFP. The aim of this transition would be to ensure that it occurs seamlessly, with a no disadvantage test over the five years and that it minimises the issue of stranded assets and stranded customers.

From: List of Committee Comments and Conclusions, Chapter 2, Interim report of the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network, 26 November 2009 (officially dated for release 2 December 2008).

National Emergency Alert system from next week

The Victorian Premier has announced that the National Emergency Alert system had been tested and will be ready for use next week. Unfortunately there is no emergency information system to back this up with detailed information about the emergency. As a result the National Emergency Alert system is of little value and may cause more harm than good.

The system, developed by Telstra, was previously called the National Emergency Warning System, and can deliver 300 text messages per second and 1000 voice messages per minute.The initial system will use the registered address of the telephone or mobile service and so not be able to target travelling users.

A test recorded audio message was sent containing the Australian Standard Warning Signal. The test text message was:

+6144 444 444

EMERGENCY TEST MESSAGE from the Victorian Government to test the new telephone emergency warning system NO ACTION REQUIRED For more info www.oesc.vic.gov.au

In neither case was the recipient required to take any action. Reception was gauged by random phone poll afterwards. The Victorian government has not released the results of the test. The Victorian Premier should release the results of the test for independent and public review.

Unfortunately the web site people referred to is a policy and administrative one, and contains no useful information about actual emergencies. Having a system which can deliver an emergency message is of little value unless those warned can be referred to more detailed information relevant to the specific emergency. The Victorian government needs to follow the practice adopted by the ACT Government and have a web page specifically about current emergencies.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cyberwar Podcast

Stilgerrian, interviewed me for a ZDNet Australia podcast on "Cyberwar: What is it good for?". This was recorded shortly before the Attorney-General released the new Australian Government Cyber Security Strategy and IBM announced a new computer security centre in Canberra.

Green IT Limerick

The ACS Canberra IT Award for Green ICT (Corporate) went to the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) for their energy saving efforts. Peter Lucey, General Manager, PSARN International, recited the following limerick at the awards ceremony on 25 November 2009:
LIMERICK – GREEN IT

WE’RE REWARDING IT THAT IS GREEN
I THOUGHT – WHAT COULD THAT POSSIBLY MEAN?
IS IT THE COLOUR OF THE BOX?
OR THE SHADE OF THE NERD’S SOCKS?
AHA! - INFO FROM GOOGLE I’D GLEAN

GREEN IT IS A BIT AIRY-FAIRY
TO QUANTIFY IT, IS A LITTLE BIT HAIRY
I UNDERSTAND WHAT I MEAN
IT MUST BE – WELL, - CLEAN
BUT TO JUDGE COMPANIES CAN BE A LITTLE BIT SCARY

SO IT’S CARBON WE’LL TRY TO REDUCE
PERHAPS WE’LL HAVE TO CUT BACK ON THE JUICE
NO MORE PLASMA TVs
WE CAN’T JUST DO AS WE PLEASE
AND ACCEPT THE INEVITABLE ABUSE

SO MY FRIENDS, YOU REALLY MUST KNOW
POLLUTANT REDUCTION IS THE WAY WE SHOULD GO
WE CAN USE CARBON TRADING
THOUGH OUR OPPORTUNITIES ARE FADING
BUT WE HAVE COMPANIES WHO CAN MAKE IT SO.

Provided by Peter Lucey, General Manager, PSARN International, November 2009

AARNet and the Internet in Australia

The book "AARNet – 20 years of the Internet in Australia" (ISBN 9780646521114) by Glenda Korporaal was launched yesterday. This claims to document the role of the Australia Academic and Research Network (AARNet) had in introducing the Internet to Australia. Unfortunately AARNet decided not to make their book about the Internet available via the Internet.

This decision is symptomatic of the problems which have plagued AARNet. The organisation has excellent technical skills and is still at the forefront of applying the Internet to research and education. However, AARNet after making a bold move into a new technology tends loose it nerve and fails to follow up and make effective use of the what it has done. In this case they have commissioned a book, but ensured almost no one will ever read it, by not making it available using the technology they advocate.

The message AARnet is sending out to its clients in Australian universities and to its backers (the Australian Government), is that AARnet does not think the Internet is suitable for the distribution of important information: AARnet prefers paper delivery.

AARnet could have provided the book online, as a valuable educational resource. Australian students could have then learned about the role which Australian played in creating the Internet. Instead Australians will be educated using materials from other countries and not know Australia had a role in development of the Internet.

During the early years of the Internet I was asked by MPs and senior policy makers in Canberra (and still am) who were the important people in the world to talk to about the Internet, the web and other IT developments. When asked this in Parliament House I would point in the direction of the ANU, CSIRO and other research bodies saying: "down there". The response would usually be "no we don't want to talk to Australians, we want world leaders". AARNet are perpetuating that problem by failing to get their message out.

As well as not making the content of the book available online, AARNet do not seem to have made the paper book available either. I was unable to find the book on Amazon.com, nor anywhere else on the Internet. About the only way to get the book seems to be ask AARNet and at some time in the future they might tell you where it is available.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Emergency 2.0 Australia

Emergency 2.0 Australia, is part of the Australian Government 2.0 Taskforce looking at how Social Media can assist in Emergency Management. In my view Social Networking, the Internet and web, have a useful role in emergency communications. However, disaster management using IT needs to be carefully planned and tested.

The Emergency 2.0 Australia website is incorrect in suggesting that the February Victorian Bushfires saw the emergence of the use of social media and web2.0 technologies. The disaster just brought them to public prominence via the media. These were already being planned, tested and deployed elsewhere.

Canberra planning forum agenda

Greetings from Parliament House Canberra, where the National Capital Authority (NCA) is holding a public forum on planning in Canberra. THere are about three hundred people present. Sitting next to me is Senator Kate Lundy, chair of the parliamentary committee which delivered recommendations on planning Canberra: "The Way Forward – Inquiry into the role of the National Capital" and who talked on "Creating a New Nation’s Capital – the international origins of the Griffin Canberra Plan" recently (she is Tweeting with the tag "#NCAforum"). One controversial topic on the agenda is the new ASIO Building.

The event did not start well with the MC giving an overly long legal statement explaining that the event would be videoed. This was followed by a brief and interesting introduction by Professor Atkin. This was a brief pause in the tedium, as then several went through the details of NCA legislation and the legalese of the NCA National Capital Plan. have been to several planning meetings and this was not one of the best. NCA might have expert planners, but they are not good communicators. The planners of the Sydney City Council, Leichardt Council and the ACT Government do a much better job. It may because local government agencies have to do it more often. As the talks progressed over 30 minutes the style got a little more relaxed and interesting. The high point for me was a comment on the volunteers who look after the Old Parliament House rose garden "with love".

The NCA claims to be going to release an interactive online forum to allow comments from the citizens. This will be good when done. However, the organisation will need to do some work in online communication styles.

The question I registered was: "What changes have been made to the national capital planning process to take into account the development of the Internet". With is I had in mind both the effect on the physical structure of the city and the way consultations on planning are done. AGIMO have some guidelines for online policy consultation and NCA might consider using them. However, I am sitting in the public forum wondering if I am going to get an answer. If I was a concerned citizen who could not get to the forum, I wonder if they would have any chance of an answer.

One issue which came up was the Immigration Bridge, which is opposed by the Friends of the Albert Hall. The NCA response was that there is no current plan for the bridge and any would have to be consistent with Canberra plans.

Also Professor Jan Gehl will present the 2009 Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture in Canberra, 30 November 2009.

Low cost computer security device to replace passwords

Greetings from the famous room N101 at the School of Computer Science at ANU. Bob Edwards is presenting on "Yubikey Authentication in a Mid-sized Organisation". This is a preview of paper for Linux Conference of Australia 2010 (LCA2010) in January.

The Yubikey is a low cost ($10) security token designed to replace passwords for computer access. It is a small USB unit designed to be attached to a key ring and inserted into a computer when access is needed. The device generates a 44 character pseudo random number when a button on the unit is pressed. It emulates a keyboard to send the number to an application. The device uses AES-128 bit encryption.

One use which has been poposed is Yubikey identifying airline pilots on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration blog.

Yubikey provide an online authentication server, which can be used. However, as Bob points out, this requires you to trust the security and reliability of Yubikey's system. Yubico allow for the device to be reprogrammed with a new 128 bit key so that an organisation can run its own authentication server.

One limitation of the device is that it has no internal battery and so cannot keep track of time. As a result the tokens generated never expire. Also as with any token, it must be kept physically secure. If left in a computer (as happens with sensitive devices), it will provide access for the next person who happens along (although an additional user entered id and password could be used).

Other limitations of the device are that it requires a USB port. Allowing USB devices to emulate a keyboard creates a security problem, but if disabled would stop the Yubikey working. Also, because it emulates a keyboard, any application on the host computer can read random numbers generated by the Yubikey.

One option which might be interesting for Yubico to make a credit card sized Yubikey. This would have sufficient space to overprint as identity card and have a conventional magnetic stripe. This could then be used with existing standard identity card printers and magnetic stripe security systems for student and staff ID cards. There are a number of designs available which have a USB interface on the edge of the card, or in a flexible cutout or with a folding card. These may seem cumbersome and subject to failure, but I have had a SanDisk Ultra SD Card for some years, which folds in the middle to covert to a USB drive.

Yubico might like to market the devices for green ICT power saving. The host computers could be programmed to switch to low power mode unit the device is inserted. It could also be used with thin client devices where the user's application run on a server. When the device was inserted in a different client, the applications would be restored as they were when suspended.
The Swedish company Yubico manufacture the Yubikey One-Time-Password (OTP) USB device and have released all protocol and other relevant details which makes the Yubikey particularly attractive as a low-cost and non-vendor-lock-in authentication solution.

Bob will demonstrate the Yubikey for the purposes of secure authentication on untrusted end-user systems (eg. PCs at an Internet Cafe or a friends house etc.) and will discuss some of the advantages as well as some of the weaknesses of the Yubikey system. He will then go on to describe the development of an authentication server written in C and based on a PostgreSQL database and implementing LDAP and other authentication protocols. This will include some technical details of how to use the APIs for connection to the database, parsing the ASN1 LDAP queries, dealing with denial-of-service attacks etc. He will also discuss some of the code he has written to implement the Yubikey protocol on devices with no USB port (eg. a PDA or mobile phone etc.).

This talk is a prelude to a paper Bob will present at the Linux Conference of Australia in 2010 (LCA2010) in Wellington, NZ in January.

BIO:
Bob Edwards is the Chief IT Officer in the School of Computer Science at the ANU. He also teaches into the Computer Networks course and the Free and Open Source Software Development (FOSSD) course, amongst others.

From: Yubikey Authentication in a Mid-sized Organisation, ANU 2009

Open University Green ICT Course

Open Universities Australia is now offering my Green ICT Strategies course (ACS25). This is through the Computer Professional Education Program of the Australian Computer Society. The course is available to students of Curtin University, Griffith University, Macquarie University, Monash University, RMIT University, Swinburne University and the University of South Australia.

The course uses the same materials as COMP7310, in the Graduate Studies Select program of the Australian National University (first run July 2009). The course materials are published as "Green Technology Strategies: Using computers and telecommunications to reduce carbon emissions".
Open Universities Australia
2010 Unit Profile

Unit Code ACS25
Unit Title Green ICT Strategies
Provider Australian Computer Society
Unit Type PGD
Level of Study Postgraduate
EFTSL 0.0
Delivery Method Fully Online

Unit Overview
The unit is offered in response to an explosion of interest in climate change and sustainability, including a growing realisation of the high contribution of ICT. This unit investigates the contribution of ICT to carbon emissions and how technology can reduce those emissions. The
topics are drawn from practices being developed in the public and private sectors internationally.

Topics

1. Introduction to Green ICT
2. The Global ICT Footprint
3. Enabling ICT
4. Energy saving - Data Centres and Client Equipment
5. Materials Use
6. Methods and tools
7. Business process improvement
8. Improving Data Centre Energy Efficiency
9. Enterprise Architecture
10. Procurement
11. Energy Star Program and Quality Management
12. Compliance audit
13. Review and discussion for assignment 2
...

Tasmanian government to hand out free TiVos

The Tasmanian government is going to pay for TiVo digital set top boxes, so citizens can try out video on demand. In my view this is a waste of public money. There isn't anything new the Tasmanian government will can about broadband from such a trial, which was not already found from systems, such as Transact.
"Premier David Bartlett today joined Hybrid TV CEO Robbee Minicola to launch Hybrid SmartStreet to a national audience. The project is the first of many involving the State Government, which will demonstrate the value of the National Broadband Network to Tasmanian families and businesses. ...

Hybrid SmartStreet is primarily a research project. Participants will be given a TiVo media device which in addition to providing access to high definition TV, will allow access to existing broadband services via Hybrid TV’s CASPA portal. ...

Under the terms of the MoU the Tasmanian Government has committed to covering the access fee for Tastel customers (within the TasCOLT footprint) to participate in the trial, plus the cost of installation and support services. Up to $100,000 has been allocated from within the Department of Economic Development’s existing budget. ..."

From: Premier launches Hybrid SmartStreet, Media Release, Tasmanian Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts, 25 November 2009

Public Spaces For Public Life

Professor Jan Gehl will present the 2009 Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture in Canberra, 30 November 2009. Professor Gehl is conducted the "Sydney CBD Public Life and Public Spaces Survey" and is the author of "Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space".
Free Public Lecture: 2009 Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture (30 November 2009)
2009 November 23

The Australian Institute of Architects invites the general public to the 2009 Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture to be delivered by world renowned architect Professor Jan Gehl. Gehl’s vision is to create better cities, aspiring to create cities that are lively, healthy, diverse, sustainable and safe – and thereby improve people’s quality of life.

2009 Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture – Presented by Jan Gehl

Time: 18:00
Date: Monday 30th November
Where: The Shine Dome, Gordon St, ANU, Acton

Bookings essential. Please RSVP to act@raia.com.au

Jan Gehl has worked with the Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne governments and has been engaged by the City of Sydney to develop a Public Spaces and Public Life survey for the Sydney CBD.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP said Gehl’s study “will be a landmark urban design initiative for the City to help strike a balance between people, cars and the built form.

Jan is an Architect MAA & FRIBA, Professor Emeritus of Urban Design at the School of Architecture in Copenhagen. For over 40 years his career has focused on improving the quality of urban life, especially for pedestrians, through his work as urban design adviser to Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, New York Washington, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and many more. His writings include the “Life Between Buildings” first published in 1971, a widely used handbook on the relationship between public spaces and the social life in cities, through to “New City Life”, published in 2006, and which responds to the challenges facing cities in the 21st century (source Gehl Architects).

National President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Melinda Dodson, will be the respondent to Jan Gehl’s lecture.

The 2009 WBMGL is presented by the ACT Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects with the generous support of the Royal Danish Embassy and GHD Australia.

The annual WBGML has been delivered in Canberra since 1961.Over that time it has been given by a number of distinguished individuals from many fields of expertise, including Gough Whitlam, Professor Manning Clarke and Romaldo Giurgola.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Canberra planning forum agenda

The National Capital Authority (NCA) will hold a public forum on planning in Canberra, at Parliament House Canberra, 6pm, 26 November 2009. One controversial topic on the agenda is the new ASIO Building.

I have lodged the question: "What changes have been made to the national capital planning process to take into account the development of the Internet". With is I had in mind both the effect on the physical structure of the city and the way consultations on planning are done.

With the availability of high speed broadband it should not be as necessary to concentrate people in one place, nor have them travel as much for meetings. As an example, NCA are videoing the Canberra meeting. Unfortunately they are not planning to distribute the video for several weeks, making it of little value for consultation purposes. Instead NCA could have streamed the event, allowing people who could not get to Canberra, or to Parliament House to take part.

Here is the agenda for the meeting:
National Capital Authority Public Forum 26 November 2009

Order of Proceedings

All times are approximate and will depend on the level of participant interest

Time Action
6.00 Dr Allan Hawke - Moderator:
  • Welcome
  • Format of the evening
  • Indicative date for the 2010 Public Forum
  • Introduction to the panel
Segment 1: Functions of the NCA
6.10 Chairman’s Overview
NCA presentation:
  • Statutory Functions
  • Budget & Staffing
  • Designated Areas (map)
  • National Land (map)
6.30 Open Forum
Questions and comments from the audience relating to the general functions of the NCA.
Topics already identified in early RSVPs include:
  • Consultation
  • Strategic Planning in the ACT
  • Sustainability
Segment 2: Topic Spe cific Discuss ions
7.00 Topics already identified in early RSVPs include:
  • The New Commonwealth Building Project (ASIO Building)
  • Constitution Avenue
  • Heritage Management
  • Lake Burley Griffin
  • Landscape of the National Capital
  • Parking Management
  • Planning
  • Carillon
  • Administration of Canberra Avenue
  • Monash Drive
  • World War I and II Memorials
8.00 If necessary - Short break for tea/coffee
8.10 If necessary - Resume Topic Specific Discussions

Creative Ecologies and New Business Models

John HowkinsJohn Howkins, author of "The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas" (2002) and the forthcoming "Creative Ecologies: Where Thinking is a Proper Job" (UQ Press, April 2010) will talk on "Creative Ecologies and New Business Models", in Canberra, 26 November 2009:
How can we harness creative ecologies and discover the business environments in which creativity and innovation best thrive?

The Creative Industries Innovation Centre, in partnership with the University of Canberra, invites you to attend a special event by world-renowned creative industry expert, John Howkins. He will be joined by University of Canberra graduate, Michael Tear, who is a member of the CIIC Advisory Board and Managing Director of Bearcage Productions.

"Creative Ecologies and New Business Models"

Thursday 26 November 2009
4.30pm start for 5pm-7pm

The University of Canberra
Innovation Centre Foyer
Building 22
University Drive South

RSVP: Tracy Doherty
Email: events@canberra.edu.au

Phone: (02) 6201 5995
Disability access is available.

Parking information: Parking is available in the car park directly across from the Innovation
Centre (see map attached).

http://www.canberra.edu.au/university/maps

Examiner's meetings for E-learning courses

My students have completed the first COMP7310 Green ICT course at ANU. Their marks have been allocated. At this point the university requires that the person running the course and a "second examiner" agree the marks. The results are then presented to an examiner's meeting where others examine the marks. This was an experience I did not look forward to. In effect now I have finished assessing the students, my peers were going to assess me and see if the course and the results were credible.

The experience turned out to be not as bad as I was expecting. There were about six people present for the School of Computer Science (SOCS) masters meeting. A senior academic chaired the meeting and an assistant operated a laptop connected to a projection screen. This displayed course details stored in a bespoke system created by Bob Edwards at SOCS called "FAculty Information System" (FAIS) .

Each course was considered in turn. The results for all students were displayed on screen for a course, sorted in descending order by mark. The system displays the raw mark of each student, any scaling applied and the resulting grade. Also displayed is the average mark, standard deviation and frequency of each grade. Group members then ask to see details of particular students, usually those on the boundary between one grade and the next. The grades for all courses in Computer Science for this student can be displayed, to see if the mark for the course in question is consistent.

In the case of my own course I was worried that I had been too generous with the marks.; So I scaled them to the notional ANU average (65/100). My colleagues reassured me that it was up to me to decide if the marking reflected the correct result, not some statistical measure. The scaling was adjusted to make it less harsh. This is done by entering a PHP function into the system, at which point all of the marks are rescaled and the statistics recalculated. The group found the result acceptable and along with the second examiner, I was able to sign off on the results.

This process worked well and I have suggested that this functionality be added to the ANU's Moodle system (called "Wattle"). There may well be some Moodle add-on which already does this (some is covered in Daniel Servos' Google Summor of Code project: " Student projects/Animated grade statistics report. Also Dr. Eric McCreath has also produced a Marker program which could also be added to Moodle. In addition the system could be sued for analysis of overall student progress trends and for specific topics.

It should be noted that the information from the examiner's board is then entered into the student administration system. So some way to transfer marks from Moodle to the ANU Student Administration System would be useful. ANU uses PeopleSoft Enterprise Student Administration software, and PeopleSoft claim to be able to do some Moodle integration. Also it would be useful to be able to extract information from the PropleSoft system for the examiner's board (as Moodle will only have information on recent courses).

The administrative processes will also need to be adjusted slightly to allow for flexible learning. The current process assumes that all staff can attend a meeting in person. Where courses are designed and delivered flexibly, the staff involved my not be on the campus. The obvious solution would be a meeting by video conference with the web based marking system being able to support this well. However, a real time meeting would still be inconvenient for people is different time zones and an alternative form based approach should be feasible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

US Military exercises with open source

Mark Prutsalis has been sending some interesting reports about the Sahana open source disaster management software being tried at Camp Roberts in California as part of RELIEF for by the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Field Experimentation Program.

Sahana was developed for relief operations in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami. After Hurricane Katrina the Sahana team discussed offering assistance. I suggested it would be unlikely the USA would have difficulty accepting external technical assistance. With Sahana as part of the Camp Roberts exercise, this is changing.

So here’s a summary of our major accomplishments:

  • We were able to integrate with a local Google fusion server that was used to process imagery of the Camp Roberts area through OpenLayers. Very cool. Very bleeding edge.
  • We were able to integrate with a local Open Street Maps tile server that produced data collected through Walking Papers and was available to Sahana through OpenLayers again. Again, very cool. Very bleeding edge. Do read Mikel Maron’s blog post on this.
  • We were able to set up two-way integration with InSTEDD’s GeoChat application through GeoRSS feeds.
  • We tested the ability of OLPCs and Netbooks to collect data in both networks and disconnected environments, connected by WIMAX and powered by a combination of solar and wind at a remote Forward Operating Base.
  • We developed procedures for synchronizing and importing data collected through portable applet instances.
From: Brain dump by Mark Prutsalis on November 12th 2009

Australian Government Cyber Security Strategy

The Federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland has released an Australian Government Cyber Security Strategy. This is a high risk strategy as it proposes transferring the functions of the successful and experienced non-government AusCert to an inexperienced government body. A better strategy would be to resource AusCert so it can provide services to non-government bodies and work with DSD to look after government and military computer security.

The Australian Government Cyber Security Strategy has three objectives:
  1. Make Australians aware of cyber risks,
  2. Make businesses operate secure and resilient information and communications technologies,
  3. Secure Australian Government information and make communications technologies resilient.

The seven Strategic priorities are:

  1. Improve the detection, analysis, mitigation and response to sophisticated cyber threats,
  2. Provide Australians with information and tools to protect themselves online,
  3. Partner with business to promote security and resilience,
  4. Protection of government ICT systems,
  5. Promote a secure, resilient and trusted global electronic operating environment,
  6. Maintain an effective legal framework and enforcement against cyber crime,
  7. Promote research and development of cyber security a skills.

By early 2010 the Australian Government expects to have:

  1. CERT Australia: with Attorney-General’s Department taking over AusCert's responsibilities. This will incorporate the Australian Government Computer Emergency Readiness Team,
  2. Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC): The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) will continue to provide civilian and military government agencies with cyber security assistance.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Apple needs to close the door on global warming

Walking past Apple Computer's flagship store in George Street Sydney on Friday, I was hit by an uncomfortable blast of icy air. The doors to the store had been left open and refrigerated air was flowing out and into the very hot street. Apart from making it unpleasant for passers-by this is wasting energy and contributing to global warming. Apple's Sydney store has a similar design to Apple's Fifth Avenue Store in New York, about which similar energy use concerns have been raised. Apple needs to provide doors on its store to keep the air in. Otherwise this detracts from Apple's good record on energy saving.

Keeping the air in while welcoming customers can be difficult. This can be a problem in older buildings as well as new. Yesterday I noticed one solution at the National Innovation Centre, at the Australian Technology Park while at "Startup BarCamp Sydney". This building was part of the historic Eveleigh Railway Workshops. The building has large brick arched entrance, which could not be made airtight on the outside without detracting from the historic look of the building. Instead the a large glass wall has been built inside the entrance. From the outside the glass is not noticeable.

Apple could consider this approach building a glass box inside the doors of its store (which in itself is a large glass box). The inner wall created could have self closing or revolving doors.

While smaller historic buildings could not afford the space that ATP and Apple have, they could consider a similar approach by leaving the wood door open and using a modern glass one to close the entrance for air-conditioning, while retaining an open look for customers. There are detailed guides to making historic buildings energy efficient.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Startups in Sydney

Greetings from "Startup BarCamp Sydney" at the Australian Technology Park as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2009. I volunteered to talk on "Innovating to lower costs and carbon emissions with ICT" at 12:30pm. But I broadened this to talk about the process Innovation ACT uses to teach entrepreneurship to students at the Australian National University and University of Canberra and ended up with "Entrepreneurs for climate change mitigation".

The BarCamp is being held in the Innovation Centre at the ATP. For me this is a bit like coming home. In 1998 I used the ATP as an example of how technology innovation should be done in Australia. This was meant to be just an example, but the government appeared to take this advice literally and set up the National ICT Centre of Excellence (NICTA) in the building. I was last here for the CSIRO ICT Centre conference two weeks ago. What I didn't realise is that the ATP is home to ATP Innovations, which is part owned by the ANU.

This Bar Camp has a wider range of participant than BarCamp Canberra, which was focused on web and government. At this event there is one delegate is selling coconuts (for eating and drinking) and another solar thermal power stations.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More future of higher education in the UK and Australia

Professor Paul RamsdenProfessor Paul Ramsden, Chief Executive of the UK Higher Education Academy, will discuss changes to the way universities plan courses and reward teaching staff at the Australian National University, 2.30pm, Wednesday, 2 December 2009 in Lecture Theatre 1, HW Arndt Building (RSVP: Deborah Veness). This is in addition to the previously scheduled talk, 3 December 2009.

Startup BarCamp Sydney

"Startup BarCamp Sydney" is being held 21 November 2009 at the Australian Technology Park for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2009. I have volinteered to talk on "Innovating to lower costs and carbon emissions with ICT", which I talked to Innovation ACT about a few monts ago . For those not familiar with the BarCamp format, it can be a bit bewildering. In addition to the celibrity speakers, anyone can present. The rohbust audince participation can also be a bit confronting. The event is free, funded by the sponsors. To participate you edit the home page to add your details and proposed topic. This can see a bit like the Merry Pranksters meet the Calfornian Business Assocation.

Australian and International Standards Making

Greetings from the Standards Australia Council Meeting, being held in Sydney, where I am representing the Australian Computer Society. New directors elected were: Peter Burne, Peter Cockbane, Richard Brookes. The Consumer Electronics Suppliers’ Association (CESA) has joined SA.

There were three resolutions from members, for the annual report, quarterly, six monthly reports and a register of councillors. These were supported by the chairman and passed.

The financial report indicates that there has been loss, due to the Global Finance Crisis. The situation is not disastrous, but SA does not appear to have achieved all the savings it would with the move to online standards making. An expensive inner city office is not needed, as clients will never visit. No dedicated standards committee meeting rooms are needed, as most standards making will b online and the few rooms needed can be rented or got free from member organisations.

Dr. Alan Morrison, deputy SA Chair and President of the International Standards Organisation addressed the meeting. He noted that as developing nations expanded their economies, they will take up positions on standards committees. He commented that this was of concern to the USA. I can see how this would concern the USA, but it will be an opportunity for Australia, which has a . He noted a move in the EU for providing standards for free and this creates a dilemma for individual countries and for the USA. He argued that standards are not free, with meeting and coordination costs. He said that ISO is working on a measure of a value of standards to show countries why they should not be free.

There has been considerable controversy with Standards Australia's New Business Model, which was touched on by the CEO in his report. This model is essentially user pays, with those organisations who want a new standard to pay for the cost of its development. It itself user pays is not new or that controversial, those developing standards were already paying most of the cost through providing experts to write the standards at no charge. What has been added to this is a charge from SA to cover their administrative costs. The CEO indicated that some of this would be reconsidered following some concern from members.

Making user pays more controversial is that SA's exclusive publishing agreement with the company SAI Global, precludes the standards developed being available for free online. This was touched on briefly during the meeting.

As an individual IT professional I believe that SA's inability to make standards free and freely available online makes their standards process unworkable. I do not agree with the ISO President's view that a free open source approach will not work and have had doubts about the ISO process since reading Carl Malamud's book more than a decade ago: "Exploring the Internet: A Technical Travelogue" (1992), in which Australians figure prominently. So I will not be participating in any further SA or ISO standards making, instead I will be using open access standards bodies and recommending my colleagues do likewise. I will not be supporting future funding for ISO or SA. However, these views are my own and are not necessarily shared by everyone at ACS and there is no plan for ACS to withdraw its support for SA.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unifying NBN fibre and wireless networks

Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) has announced it a trial of Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile wireless technology in Australia with Optus during 2010. LTE offers up to 340 Mbps, but more significantly should make it easier to integrate with other wireless and wired broadband networks, such as the National Broadband Network. LTE is claimed to be compatible with WiMax broadband wireless, which the Australian government is funding to fill in some urban broadband black spots. LTE uses IPV6 and this could make it easier to provide services across networks without ad-hoc arrangements for levels of service and security. By using the network more effectivly, this might reate a better and cheaper service than by simply adding more bandwith. LTE also has an option for providing TV like services. What is not clear is if it can be adapted to the needs of regional Australia, with a low population density. It may be that CSIRO's "broadband to the bush" could be combined with LTE.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Living Tomorrow

Living Tomorrow"Living Tomorrow" by media artist Linda Wallace will be exhibited in the CSIT building N101 seminar room, 19th and Friday 20th November 2009, The Australian National University. In late 2004 she was awarded a doctorate from the Australian National University (completed on scholarship from the Advanced Computational Systems Co-operative Research Centre).
LivingTomorrow is a database-driven video archive installation work produced as artist-in-residence at Nederlands Instituut voor Mediakunst, Amsterdam. It was launched on March 11 2005.

Acer Google Android Netbook on sale in Australia

The Acer AOD250 10.1 Inch Netbook is on sale in Australia at Office Works for $AU527. The unit features both Microsoft Windows 7 and the Google Android (Linux) operating systems. The logic behind this seems to be that Android provides a quick way to do casual email and web browsing, but the reviews of the implementation on the Acer are not that positive.

Office works also have the Hewlett Packard (HP) CQ2350AN Desktop PC & 18.5" Wide LCD for $AU599. This could be considered a "NetTop" as it has the same Intel Atom N230 processor as many netbooks. But it comes with a larger case than the average NetTop, including a DVD burner. Performance of this PC would not be spectacular and it comes with Microsoft Windows XP.

Defence Budget Audit Needs Needs More ICT

The Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner, has released the "2008 Defence Budget Audit" (Pappas Review by George Pappas). Amongst other savings, the report identifies 15 to 30% of possible savings in operating costs for ICT. However, it does not detail this further nor look at the much larger savings (which would be in the billions) by the more effective use of ICT to run Defence. A reduction in ICT spending may be a false economy if it prevents an overall saving in defence, which could be as much as 15% of the total budget.

Rather than the process driven approach which has been tried in Defence many times and failed, I suggest a behaviour driven approach. This would retrain defence staff, both civilian and military with the new skills they need and provide direct incentives for them to use those skills effectively. Also they staff would be provided with the tools to work effectively, particularly ICT systems.

As an example, the audit report identifies video conferencing as a technology for savings, by replacing air travel. However, if staff are not trained in how to use video conference effectively and are not given incentives to use it, the technology will remain underused. At best video conferencing will be used to replace some unproductive face to face meetings with unproductive virtual ones.

Available are:
  1. DEFENCE BUDGET AUDIT RELEASED, Media Release, John Faulkner , Minister for Defence, MIN49/09, 17 November 2009
  2. Response to the Defence Budget Audit, Department of Defence, 17 November 2009
  3. Executive Summary, Defence Budget Audit, Department of Defence, 17 November 2009
  4. Defence Budget Audit, Department of Defence, 17 November 2009
The report recommended changes to Defence operations to reduce cost and increase effectiveness. The Government has accepted many of the recommendations, including to reduce the number of ICT contractors used. Recommendations to close smaller defence bases will be delayed until after the next election.

The executive summary states:
Capturing efficiency while reforming ICT. A holistic ICT transformation is planned to significantly improve the quality of the ICT infrastructure provided to Defence. While the current focus on the transformation effort is primarily on quality, there should be an increased focus on capturing the significant efficiencies in the process.

These reforms could save Defence 15 to 30% per year in operating costs, dependent on the future ICT strategy. These savings are estimated at $215 million per year, but have not been analysed in detail because the ICT strategy is beyond the scope of this review.

From: Executive Summary, Defence Budget Audit, Department of Defence, 17 November 2009
Several of the more general recommendations also relate to the use of ICT more effectively (excerpt appended).

Extensive documentation has been provided for the audit, with an executive summary (8 pages), full report (308 pages) and government response (4 pages). One flaw in this is that the response is a secured PDF document which cannot have text copied from it, making analysis difficult.

More seriously, the report itself is provided in the form of a bitmap images with no accompanying text. As a result it is not possible to search the document nor copy text from the document (copying has been barred for this document in any case). Where a document is only available in hard copy form it may be necessary to scan it in for online distribution. PDF has an option to provide an optical character recognition version of the document for searching, which has not been done in this case. Also this document has not been generated from a paper original, it is from a digital original. Those who produced the PDF version will have had to make a deliberate decision not to provide it in an easy to search text format and so as to limit access to the document by the public. Such action by a public servant is unethical and may be contrary to Australian law. In any case the document provided does not meet the Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes issued by the Australian Human Rights Commission likely placing the Department of Defence in breech of the Act.

From the Executive Summary, Defence Budget Audit, Department of Defence, 17 November 2009:
Reducing the cost of Defence inputs can be achieved in three ways:
  • Reducing non-equipment procurement costs. Defence procures a wide range of commercial products and services such as building services, travel and relocation services. Clear opportunities exist to reduce these costs by:
  • Procuring more competitively priced products and services. For example, unbundling routes and removing price arbitrage on removal contracts.
  • Changing the specifications for what is required to obtain less costly products, where doing so will not compromise capability. For example, increasing the procurement requirement that military clothing is imported from low cost countries.
  • Changing patterns of use. For example, making greater use of Defence’s extensive video-conference network rather than undertaking single day travel.
  • These improvements can save Defence between $326 and $518 million per year in non-equipment expenditure.
  • Reducing the cost of major equipment procurement.
Although a longterm task, there are significant opportunities to reduce the cost of major equipment procurement through:
  • Procuring a higher proportion of MOTS equipment
  • Increasing the level of competition for major equipment acquisition and sustainment contracts
  • Reviewing the proportion of local sourcing which is not justified by strategic requirements.
Purchasing a greater proportion of MOTS (which the most recent Defence Capability Plan (DCP) plans for) and increasing the level of competition on major contracts (which partially overlaps with savings identified in the lean backbone section) could ease cost pressures by $345 to $660 million, but these are not ‘banked’ as savings.
  • Reducing the cost of combat capability through the use of Reserves.
    Beyond support functions, there is also an opportunity to deliver the same military capability at a lower cost through a flexible surge model. This model makes expanded use of Reserves and deployable contractors.
    These changes could reduce the cost of combat capability by ~$50 million per year.
The total productivity dividend from all of these measures is in the range of $1.3 to $1.8 billion per year, and a one-off saving of $218 to $398 million. The extent of reform required to capture these savings will take 3 to 5 years. The operational cost savings already identified by Defence (as part of the Defence Savings Plan, also know as ‘E2’) have been integrated with or replaced by the Audit savings, which provide analytical substance, much greater detail and show where Defence can go further to realise additional savings.

Removing the long-term structural inefficiencies of a fragmented estate. This can be achieved by starting the process of consolidating estates into an efficient superbase model, laying the foundation for the next ‘S’ curve in Defence productivity. A superbase model would dramatically reduce subscale base costs,
extensive travel and relocation expenses, and the costs associated with managing a complicated supply-chain network.
The estimated yearly savings from a superbase model that would meet Australia’s strategic requirements would increase over time (assuming a staged consolidation), and could reach $700 to $1,050 million by 2035 (in 2008 dollars). ...

From: Executive Summary, Defence Budget Audit, Department of Defence, 17 November 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

e-Book on Research Integration

Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods David McDonald, Gabriele Bammer & Peter Deane will launch their new book "Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods" 26 November 2009 in Canberra. The whole book is already available online for free as a very well formatted set of web pages, for mobile devices (scoring a very good 80/100 on the W3C Mobile OK Test) , in PDF chapter by chapter and as one file. It is also available as a conventional printed paperback.

As to the content, these are techniques which could be applied from areas ranging from planning what sort of weapons systems to buy, to how to deal with natural disasters. I have used such automated tools at the Defence Department in considering systems and the Sahana open source disaster management system project is planning to incorporate Large Groups Making Decisions In Extreme Events.
Invitation

University Co-operative Bookshop Limited

The ANU Co-op Bookshop and the ANU E Press wish to invite you to
the launch of David McDonald, Gabriele Bammer & Peter Deane’s book
Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods.

Date: Thursday, 26th November 2009

Time: 5pm for a 5:30pm start

Location: The Co-op Bookshop, Bldg 17, Union Court, Canberra, ACT 0200
The book will be launched by Professor Ted Lefroy, Director of the Centre for Environment at the University of Tasmania. Ted is also a Director of Land & Water Australia.

Dr Michael Robinson, CEO of Land & Water Australia, will officiate.
The launch is co-sponsored by Land & Water Australia and the Drug Policy Modelling Program, which funded the research underpinning the book.
RSVP: anu@coop-bookshop.com.au or (02) 6249 6244 by 24th November 2009.

Colleagues & guests welcome. Refreshments will be served.


Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods

Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods

David McDonald, Gabriele Bammer, Peter Deane

ISBN 9781921536748 $24.95 (GST inclusive)
ISBN 9781921536755 (Online)
Published August 2009

Research on real-world problems—like restoration of wetlands, the needs of the elderly, effective disaster response and the future of the airline industry—requires expert knowledge from a range of disciplines, as well as from stakeholders affected by the problem and those in a position to do something about it. This book charts new territory in taking a systematic approach to research integration using dialogue methods to bring together multiple perspectives. It links specific dialogue methods to particular research integration tasks.

Fourteen dialogue methods for research integration are classified into two groups:

1. Dialogue methods for understanding a problem broadly: integrating judgements

2. Dialogue methods for understanding particular aspects of a problem: integrating visions, world views, interests and values.

The methods are illustrated by case studies from four research areas: the environment, public health, security and technological innovation.

Table of Contents

List of Tables
Acknowledgments and author contributions
1. Introduction
2. Using the dialogue methods in this book
Identifying and classifying the dialogue methods
I. Dialogue methods for understanding a problem broadly: integrating judgments:
II. Dialogue methods for understanding particular aspects of a problem: integrating visions, world views, interests and values:
Applying the dialogue methods in this book
Flexibility
Preparing to use a dialogue method
Areas not covered in this book
How to read this book
3. Dialogue methods for understanding a problem broadly: integrating judgments
Citizens’ jury
Consensus conference
Consensus development panel
Delphi technique
Future search conference
Most significant change technique
Nominal group technique
Open space technology
Scenario planning
Soft systems methodology
4. Dialogue methods for understanding particular aspects of a problem
Introduction
Integrating visions
Integrating world views
Integrating interests
Integrating values
Appreciative inquiry: integrating visions
Strategic assumption surfacing and testing: integrating world views
Principled negotiation: integrating interests
Ethical matrix: integrating values
5. Differentiating between the dialogue methods
Comments
6. Conclusions
Learning from failure
Other research areas
An invitation to contribute
Appendix 1
Gabriele Bammer
Rationale for developing I2S
The four cornerstones of I2S
Focusing on integrating disciplinary and practice (stakeholder) knowledge
Conclusion
Appendix 2
Tool kits that include dialogue methods
Appendix 3
References

Chapter 1: Introduction

Research integration is the process of improving the understanding of real-world problems by synthesising relevant knowledge from diverse disciplines and stakeholders. Methods for undertaking research integration have not, however, been well developed or explained. Here, we show how 14 methods developed for dialogue can be useful for research integration. What makes this book unique is that we tease apart components of research integration and match them to particular methods.

Research integration is essential for effectively investigating real-world problems. Such investigation requires bringing together the insights of different disciplines. For example, examination of the impacts of the encroachment of housing on farm and bushland on the fringes of cities can benefit from the expertise of ecologists, economists, hydrologists, sociologists, soil scientists, demographers and so on. Similarly, to comprehensively model the impact of the covert release of an infectious disease agent on a major city requires input from, among others, communicable disease epidemiologists, statistical modellers, urban geographers, psychologists and legal experts....

From:Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods, byDavid McDonald, Gabriele Bammer & Peter Deane, ANU Press, 2009

Making the Planet Smarter and Greener

Matthias Kaiserswerth, director of the IBM Zurich Research LabGreetings from NICTA Canberra Research Laboratory where Matthias Kaiserswerth, director of the IBM Zurich Research Lab is speaking on "Innovating to Create a Smarter Planet". The talk did not start well, with severe interference on the public address system. Dr. Kaiserswerth started by pointing out they do not make PCs any more. The still sell large IT systems, but also do software and consulting.He claimed IBM was the world's largest IT research organisation, four Nobel Laureates in the Zurich Labs and labs aorund the world.

Dr. Kaiserswerth argues that smart systems can improve the environment and health. One example was the amount of energy wasted by cars in cities looking for parking spaces. He pointed out that there are about 4 billion mobile phones in the world which could be used for smart applications, but this might need smarter phones with Internet access.

Dr. Kaiserswerth pointed that research on its own is not enough, a business case is also needed. He gave the example of smart sensors on shipping containers. Smart tags could be put on containers, but this would require agreement by all those involved in shipping would need to agree and to share the cost. Dr. Kaiserswerth pointed out IBM worked on Zigbee networking for container to container communication. It occurs to me that this system is also being used for smart meters. So I suggest it might be possible to equip housing modules with a Zigbee device used for tracking the container in transit and then for the smart meter when installed. This could also provide some limited Internet access for the home owner. In a modualr apartment building, the wireless devices in each apartment could communicate with each other to control building services and reduce energy use.

Another example Dr. Kaiserswerth used was the "Spoken Web Project" from IBM's Indian research labs. This would provide information services for people who cannot read text or want to access it via a mobile phone. There have been several attempts at this including the Simputer Indian PDA with voice. However, my preference would be to use advnaced web design, web accessibility standards and advances in text to voice to provide standard web sites which are also avialable via voice.
NICTA Canberra Research Laboratory
Big Picture SeminarSeries
Title: Innovating to Create a Smarter Planet

Abstract
The world is getting increasingly intelligent, thanks to new technologies, the Internet and the enormous computing power of modern PCs. But a more intelligent world does not happen all by itself. Business enterprises, governments and the scientific community must share the responsibility for ensuring that all this potential can develop and be used in the right way.

At the moment we are still wasting energy, our healthcare systems are not working efficiently enough and the economy is overtaken by one crisis after another. What strategies and solutions are available for dealing with basic challenges such as these? How can a business enterprise use information more systematically and more intelligently?
How can the natural resources of our planet be put to better and more efficient use? With the technologies and solutions available to us today we can do more than we have ever been able to do in the past to link together people, things, processes and systems, and to make the world in general a more intelligent place. That is our vision for a smarter planet.

Biography
Since January 2006, Matthias Kaiserswerth has been leading the IBM Research Strategy in Systems Management and Compliance, coordinating the research work across IBM's eight global research laboratories. In July 2006, he was named director of the Zurich Research Lab, which he had lead already once before from 2000-2002.Dr. Kaiserswerth received his MSc and PhD in Computer Science from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and from Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany respectively. He is an honorary professor at Friedrich-Alexander University where he teaches applied computer science.

INVITATION
From imagination to impact www.nicta.com.au
Dr Matthias Kaiserswerth
Date: Tuesday 17 November 2009
Seminar begins at 12.30pm.
A light lunch will be served following
the presentation.
Venue
NICTA Seminar Room
Ground Floor, 7 London Circuit
Civic, ACT
RSVP Bookings are essential. Please email
CRLseminars@lists.nicta.com.au
by Friday 13 November 2009

Using the National Broadband Network for the Digital Education Revolution

Premier of Tasmania, who is also the Minister for Education and Skills, Mr David Bartlett, has invited the ICT industry to suggest how to improve education, such as with online collaboration of students across the state, interstate and overseas.

The Premier has a Bachelor of Computer Science and a Graduate Diploma of Business in Professional Management from the University of Tasmania and so is well placed to apply ICT to education.

Unfortunately the Tasmanian Government has issued the request via an advertisement in one local Hobart newspaper. So one obvious step they could take to a smarter state would be put such requests online, as most states, and the federal government, already do.

It happens I gave a presentation on how to use the NBN for Tasmanian jobs and education, a few months ago. My suggestion is to provide vocational and industry related training
online, which relates to Tasmania's industrial strengths in green
tourism, timber, maritime industries and education. Students could continue formal studies online while gaining work experience in the tourism and other industries. Tasmania could export courses online which use Tasmanian industries as case studies, thus promoting the local industry. The Tasmanian Education Department already has some experience in online distance education. The University of Tasmania has experience
in operating satellite campuses.

The Federal Government has previously generously funded education initiatives in Tasmania, such as the Australian Technical College (ATC), in Launcestion, where I gave my talk.

Unfortunately some of that investment has not been well directed. I suggest the ATC be re-purposed and combined with the adjacent UTas architecture school to work on advanced digital architecture and manufacturing to increase benefit to the local economy of products from Tasmanian forests.
The State Government is seeking input from the ICT industry on how it can make the most of the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network and the Digital Education Revolution.

Premier and Minister for Education and Skills, David Bartlett, said the initiatives presented opportunities for students, teachers, staff and the wider community.
“We want to broaden our thinking on the benefits these initiatives can create by working with the ICT industry,” Mr Bartlett said.

“The Department of Education is calling for written submissions from the Department’s current technology suppliers and the broader ICT industry on potential technologies and services that will help tap into these opportunities.
“With the implementation of the National Broadband Network there is potential to look at the way we provide education services in a different way.
“There may be new ways for students to further their studies without leaving remote areas, students may be able to participate in real-time video conferencing and collaboration with students across the state, interstate and overseas.
“It could also provide new ways of engaging with students who struggle in the current school environment.
“The National Secondary School Computer Fund for grades 9-12 has already started. The program aims to give every student access to a personal computer at school by December 2011.
“It will provide more students with access to a computer that will be internet ready and capable of taking advantage of the new broadband network.
“The Digital Education Revolution and the National Broadband Network will provide enormous benefits for our education community and I hope that we can work with the ICT industry to seize the opportunities available,” Mr Bartlett said.

Expressions of interest are advertised in The Mercury today and close at 2pm on Friday December 4. ...

From: Input sought from ICT industry, David Bartlett, MP, Premier , Tasmania, 14 November 2009