UNE to demonstrate groundbreaking applications of NBN

Published 18 July 2011

opticfibreAt an exhibition in Coffs Harbour this week, the University of New England will be presenting some of the groundbreaking projects that the National Broadband Network is enabling it to develop.

“These projects aim to benefit people across their lifespan – from young children to parents and grandparents,” said UNE’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber. “They will help them in the home as well as in schools, nursing homes, general practices and farms.”

“The capacity of the optical fibre made available through the Commonwealth Government’s National Broadband Network program is capturing the imagination of the University,” Professor Barber said.

T.H.E Exchange exhibition, sponsored by Regional Development Australia and NBNCo, will be at Coffs Harbour Ex-Services Club on Wednesday 20July.

“During the event’s pre-opening cocktail party on Tuesday 19 July, colleagues from UNE and the University of California Irvine School of Medicine will give a live presentation that will demonstrate how general practices in rural and regional communities will be able to connect with a world-class medical teaching institution via fast broadband connections to share simulation facilities and teaching resources,” said Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions. In addition, Professor Minichiello and his UNE colleagues will talk about a range of programs that will benefit from fast broadband, enabling high-speed data exchanges that will bring tremendous service benefits to communities across Australia.

Among the UNE programs to be highlighted will be the QuickSmart programs, which help struggling students to become active and successful learners by improving their basic skills and understanding in numeracy and/or literacy. Currently, more than 600 schools offer QuickSmart programs to almost 10,000 students across Australia, with many of these students experiencing up to three years’ academic growth over the course of a single year. With the opportunities provided by the NBN, UNE is developing “QuickSmart in the Home” to offer relevant, targeted and professional online educational support to parents and children around Australia. Another program that has relevance for all Australians is EduONE, which allows people to “try before they buy” while earning points towards TAFE/VET or university programs. They can study online, find out about local events, simply indulge their passions or interests, or videoconference from their desktop to join workshops or seminars anywhere in the world.

A program called “Smarter Safer Homes for Aged People” uses technologies including sensors and synchronous videoconferencing via the NBN to enhance the quality of life of aged persons – living independently or in a residential aged facility – and their families. The program is a joint venture between UNE and the CSIRO Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation and CSIRO E-Health.

UNE and CSIRO’s ICT Centre are establishing a SmartFarm on a commercial university farm in the New England region of NSW. Using functional, realistic, and accessible sensor and data management technologies, SmartFarm will demonstrate the operational benefits of a national broadband network for Australian farms.  This project will show how NBN-enabled platforms for gathering and interpreting information from crop and pasture sensors and livestock tracking and management tools will increase farm productivity by increasing water (up to 100%), fertiliser (40%) and pasture use (20%) efficiencies and reducing inputs.