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IBES invests $460,000 in broadband research

The Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society has awarded over $460,000 in seed funding to 11 new projects from researchers at the University of Melbourne. The interdisciplinary research projects aim to increase knowledge about the broadband-enabled society, and develop applications that will bring broadband to life.

IBES received over 30 applications for the seed funding program in 2013, and the 11 successful projects were announced at IBES Annual Symposium on Monday 30 September.

Speaking at the Annual Symposium IBES Executive Director Emma Dawson said, “Seed funding is the means by which IBES supports innovative multidisciplinary research projects from across the University. Through the opportunities provided by seed funding, researchers are able to develop new connections and build solutions that harness the potential of high-speed broadband.

“We were delighted to have an outstanding field of applications across IBES’s three priority research areas in 2013 – urban connectedness, regional and rural digital development, and digital social inclusion and cohesion.

On behalf of IBES, I congratulate all this year’s successful applicants, and look forward to working with the research teams as we explore opportunities to develop a broadband-enabled society.”

The IBES 2013 seed funded research projects are listed below.

The Dialogic Democracy Project: Widgets for Enhanced Citizen-Government Dialogue

High-speed broadband can improve access to government information. This project will make available a set of widget applications to allow users to obtain data aggregated from parliament and online political sources. The outcomes of this project will increase civic participation and citizen-government dialogue by providing information on MPs and parliamentary processes to promote openness, accountability and democracy.

Open Food Network (OFN) System: Connecting and Supporting the Sustainability of Regional Food Supply Chain Communities

The Open Food Network (OFN) is an e-commerce system that aims to reduce the costs of food businesses, improve access to markets for farmers and increase the supply of local fresh produce to consumers. This project will explore how farmers and logistics companies interact with the OFN, and evaluate the effectiveness of the OFN in connecting and supporting sustainable regional food supply chain industries.

Creating musical futures via the NBN through iMCM for students in rural and remote communities

Many talented music students in rural and remote locations lack access to expert tuition, limiting the opportunity to advance their musical careers. This project will examine ways to increase access to music education by providing individual and group tuition from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music to instrumental and vocal students over high-speed broadband. The project will examine the technical and educational requirements to develop a proof-of-concept system that can deliver music education to students in rural and remote locations.

Cultural Respect Encompassing Simulation Training (CREST) – Being Heard about Health through Broadband

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) migrant communities and ethnic minority groups have traditionally had poorer health outcomes than the Australian born population. CREST provides authentic and culturally appropriate resources to support communication training in healthcare education. However, technical constraints have seen a low uptake of the training services in rural and remote Australia. This project will examine how broadband can expand and improve the delivery of CREST.

Telerehabilitation for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Optimising the Model

This project will integrate videoconferencing and a wireless smart app for pulse oximetry (measuring blood oxygen levels) to enable sufferers of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to undertake remote respiratory rehabilitation in their own homes. Up to eight participants will be monitored simultaneously for pulse and blood oxygenation under the supervision of a single clinician.

Kinect Technology for remote assessment of interventions for young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

This project will create an automated measurement tool, based on Microsoft Kinect technology, that will enable health professionals to measure the type and quality of interactions between a parent and a child on the autism spectrum. The feedback from the tool will be used to guide the parent so that the child can benefit from their improved interactions. This has been shown to be critical in the early years of intervention therapy.

Non-Contact 3D Falls Detection, Prevention, and Behavioural Monitoring in Aged Residential & Home Environments: Developing A Clinical Evaluation and Application Framework

Serious falls impact one in three older people and are responsible for more deaths in New South Wales than motor vehicle accidents. Current technologies used to monitor patients are often ineffective, necessitating the need to develop more sophisticated monitoring technologies. This project will look to increase the effectiveness of monitoring technologies for falls detection and prevention through the use of a 3D visual sensor system.

Making the invisible visible: Digital storytelling for neighbourhood social cohesion

Some of the most vulnerable members of our society are also the most invisible. Disability, age, and other mobility constraints can confine people to their homes, leaving them with few opportunities to engage with others in their local communities. This project will examine how digital storytelling can be used by people who are predominantly housebound to share stories about their everyday lives and experiences as a means of engaging with others in their local communities.

Telework and Disability: exploring barriers and opportunities

Telework is the use of technology to work at home or in a place physically removed from the employer’s premises. Telework provides employees and employers with increased flexibility in their working arrangements, thereby supporting wellbeing. Home-based telework has the potential to bring a large community of disabled workers into the workforce. This research will explore the barriers to workforce participation that disabled workers and employees face and identify the challenges to be overcome to include disabled workers in the workforce through telework.

A holistic approach to improving the language learning and technology connection – Identifying and understanding current challenges to, and best practice in broadband enabled language learning in regional, rural and urban schools in Victoria.

Currently 40% of state primary schools do not offer classes in a language other than English. Most often these are regional, rural or disadvantaged urban schools. As a result, many students cannot access language education. This project aims to address the decline in the provision of language education through the use of broadband-enabled technologies. It will investigate the use of language and learning technologies in 12 Victorian schools.

WADEYE IPTV: Delivering significant and at risk audiovisual archives to remote Aboriginal communities via IPTV and the NBN

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and multiple remote storage systems will be used to both archive and deliver cultural video content to a remote indigenous population at Wadeye in the Northern Territory. This material has been collected over many years and is a valuable resource that is currently under threat from time and climate. The move to digitise and access it via broadband is vital if it is to be available for future generations.

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