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					  National ICT Australia
Universal Service Obligation


                               November 2010
Smart Infrastructure: an Opportunity for Australia

Executive Summary
NICTA welcomes the opportunity to comment on the discussion paper on the
Implementation of Universal Service Policy for the transition to the National Broadband
Network environment. Given the very short time available to prepare its response
NICTA will only address a handful of the Issues raised.

The only two areas we will comment on are “Arrangements for migrating voice-only
customers to a fibre-based service” and the “Development of a technological solution for
transition of copper-based public interest services”.

National ICT Australia (NICTA) is an Australian research and development organisation
working at the forefront of information communication technology. Established in 2002,
NICTA has built up an organisation of almost 700 specialised research scientists,
engineers and PhD students working in five research laboratories in Victoria, New South
Wales, the ACT and Queensland. NICTA is supported by the Federal, state and territory
Governments, and works closely with university members and partners such as the
Australian National University, University of NSW, University of Sydney, University of
Melbourne, Monash University, University of Queensland, Griffith University and
Queensland University of Technology.

NICTA’s research projects focus on break-through research and development in
complex areas where things are changing quickly and technology is making differences,
such as improving health, safety and security, communications, reducing waste and
pollution, and of course building smarter infrastructure.

To bring ‘real world’ impact to our research, NICTA develops research in partnerships
with leading public and private sector organisations, government, universities, road
traffic authorities and industry bodies such as ITS Australia, SAP, Qualcomm, Ericsson,
Intel, Google, Sensis and IBM. Where relevant, NICTA’s focus is also on developing
these technologies into exports worldwide.

In March 2009 NICTA, announced an international Research partnership with one of the
world’s leading ICT research organisations, the Fraunhofer ICT Research Institute in
Germany to set up a world-leading research group in freight, transport and logistics,

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010              2
For more information please contact Liz Jakubowski, Director, Government Relations

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010         3
Addressing the Questions
3.5 Arrangements for migrating voice-only customers to a
fibre-based service

3.5(1) What risks and benefits are there with the model proposed? Are there
alternative models that would deliver efficient outcomes?
There are risks with public perception and a lack of awareness of alternatives. In addition
to what is proposed, there needs to be an awareness campaign that alerts the public to the
eventual closure of all copper based services before the fibre rollout begins in their area
and hence the need for “voice-only” customers to still have NBN fibre installed. There
also needs to be an awareness campaign that informs people in the wireless and satellite
coverage areas that the Telstra copper network will be maintained in their area.

3.5(2) Is a voice-only service delivered via the PSTN a suitable definition to use in
identifying a voice-only customer? If not, what is an alternative?
This is not a suitable definition. There maybe people who will not use the NBN for data
but use more than just voice services. Examples include:
     people who still wish to continue to use fax machines and a voice circuit
     premises which have emergency phones in lifts
     people who have back to base security alarms
     people who have personal emergency response services (both pendants and
        telephones) such as those offered by Vital Call (see or
        Red Button (see

It should also be noted that many such users would be elderly or disadvantaged and in
need of highly reliable service, so mechanisms to ensure reliable operation even during
prolonged power outages would be required.

3.5(3) How can industry-based solutions best be encouraged to reduce the overall
number of voice-only customers that require USO Co funding assistance to migrate
from Telstra’s copper network to NBN Co’s fibre network?
NICTA has no comment on this question.

3.5(4) How should the voice-only migration assistance be provided to avoid perverse
incentives that would increase the number of customers that receive voice-only
migration support, and then subsequently convert to broadband services?
NICTA has no comment on this question.

3.5(5) What audit/cost verification mechanisms and processes should apply for
migration of voice-only customers to a fibre-based service?
NICTA has no comment on this question.

3.5(6) What issues would arise if USO Co was to meet the agreed costs of migration
of voice-only customers three months prior to the decommissioning of an exchange?
What alternative periods or approaches, if any, may be more appropriate?
NICTA has no comment on this question.

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010              4
3.5(7) What are the basic activities and materials that a flat one-off payment should
This should include the provision of a suitable battery backup system along with a
monitoring service to ensure the battery is functioning and providing reliability
comparable to that of the existing Telstra service. There should also be consideration
given to the replacement of handsets if required ,or a conversion box which will allow
customers to use existing handsets, answering machines, faxes and other devices.

3.5(8) What is an appropriate method for determining the average cost for the
activities and materials, and how should any differences in costs of migration be
NICTA has no comment on this question.

3.5(9) What role could industry play in ensuring that the costs that are to be taken
into account are efficient?
NICTA has no comment on this question.

Chapter 3.6: Development of a technological solution for
transition of copper-based public interest services

NICTA asserts that the rollout of a universal broadband network could lead to significant
increase in the use of public interest services and that this enquiry should not only
consider the replacement of existing public interest services, but how NBN technology
could increase these.

NICTA is doing considerable research into the use of Information and Communications
Technology (ICT) in smart infrastructure. This includes traffic lights and many other
management devices such as variable message signs, school zones warnings, and traffic
monitoring cameras. It also includes infrastructure monitoring systems for measuring the
structural health of road, tunnels and bridges, often in remote locations. When rolling
out a ubiquitous national broadband network, it would make sense to make it available to
all relevant public infrastructure locations and utilities rather than dig up the roads later.
Special technologies need to be developed as SCADA systems usually run on copper and
power is often provided down the copper wire.

Also, there is a need to anticipate which public interest services may be needed in the
future and of these which should be funded under a USO (one example could be wireless
base-stations for DSRC or picking up information from structural health monitoring
systems, especially for older bridges in rural and regional areas).

3.6(1) Apart from traffic lights and public alarm systems, are there other public
interest services that currently rely solely on the copper network that should attract
support? What industry-based commercial arrangements, if any, are in place or
could readily be made available by the market for these services?
Many security and traffic cameras use ISDN over copper wire, and it should be
examined if they should be upgraded to IP over fibre, or cheaper options than an ISDN

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010                 5
3.6(2) What existing or soon to be available technological solutions for migration of
copper-based public interest services, if any, could be used or readily adapted
without requiring USO Co to substantially fund development of a new technological
NICTA may provide comment on this at a later stage.

3.6(3) For each public interest service identified, are there particular issues or
challenges that would be need to be resolved in order to develop a technological
How these services should be powered.

3.6(4) If required, should the USO Co funding for development of a technological
solution or solutions to transition public interest services only support migration
from copper to fibre, or should technological solutions also support migration to
other platforms (for example, wireless or satellite)?

3.6(5) In circumstances where competitive sourcing of solutions is unavailable, what
benchmarks could be used to determine the likely cost of researching and
developing or adapting technological solutions for migration of copper-based public
interest services?
NICTA may provide comment on this at a later stage.

3.6(6) How could funding be structured to encourage innovative industry-led
solutions to support migration of copper-based public interest services?
NICTA may provide comment on this at a later stage.

3.6(7) What approach to determining the funding requirements for the development
of a technological solution for migration of copper-based public interest services
would provide stakeholders with transparency and confidence in the outcome?
NICTA may provide comment on this at a later stage.

3.6(8) What arrangements should apply to intellectual property developed with
USO Co funding and to its commercialisation?
NICTA may provide comment on this at a later stage.

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010          6

Summary of NICTA projects relating to NBN and

Improved Transport - Smart Transport and Roads (STaR)
Smart Energy - Smart Grid
Smart Water – Water Information Networks
Faster Freight - Intelligent Fleet Logistics
Infrastructure Network Planning and Optimisation - G12 Optimisation
Safer, Secure Infrastructure - Critical Infrastructure Monitoring, Intelligent Video
Surveillance, Brisbane Ports Project
People and Infrastructure - ECHOMOD (Human Performance Modelling for
Smarter Air Traffic Control), COSE/Decision Support for Incident Management
Further Related Projects – Automap (automating map making for vehicles)

Improved Transport
Smart Transport and Roads
NICTA is working closely with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority on the “Smart Transport and
Roads” project which uses advanced information and communications technologies to help solve
the world's urban traffic congestion problems.

Around the world, road management authorities are seeking new ways to improve traffic flow and
reduce congestion, travel times and environmental impacts. With more cars on the road every
day, governments are debating whether the answer lies in more roads, better roads, more fuel-
efficient cars or improved public transport services helping travellers and cargo reach their
destinations safely and on time.

With better information and modelling capabilities, traffic systems, traffic managers and travellers
themselves will be better able to predict and respond to traffic build ups, bottlenecks, accidents
and breakdowns.

How is it done now?
There are two adaptive traffic control systems used around the world today. One is called
SCOOT (Split Cycle Optimisation Technique) developed by the UK’s Traffic research laboratory
and the other is called SCATS (Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System and was developed
by the NSW RTA. The SCATS system is deployed in more than 142 cities in Australia, Europe,
Asia, North and South America and the Middle East.

Both systems use in-road loop-detectors to detect the presence of vehicles and adaptive
controllers to modify the cycle times of individual traffic lights and the synchronising of the timing
of adjacent signals or groups of signals.

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The NICTA Solution
NICTA and the NSW RTA are working on ways to make traffic control systems smarter by giving
them better, more comprehensive data on the traffic density and flows and making use of novel
mathematical and computational techniques to establish an understanding of how traffic is flowing
over the wide area network of traffic. It uses that information to compute changes at the level of
each traffic light to optimise traffic flows across that network.

NICTA is using advanced computer vision and data fusion techniques to give much more
accurate information about the length of vehicle queues, vehicle identification and traffic flow
rates. An early trial of this technology is being conducted in collaboration with the NSW RTA at
the intersection of the Illawarra and Princess Highways (just south of (Wollongong).

The next generation of ITS will use a radio technology called Dedicated Short Range
Communications (DSRC) to communicate from the infrastructure to vehicles, from the vehicles to
the infrastructure and from vehicles to vehicles. NICTA is working with the Embedded Systems
Australia industry cluster to develop DRC technology and applications and trial them with the

Who will benefit?
Reducing congestion extends the capital life of roads infrastructure and benefits business and the
community through:
  More reliable journey times
  Reducing vehicle emissions
  Reducing delays
  Providing a better understanding of traffic flows for urban and metropolitan planning.

Green Car

NICTA’s Green Car project will be used to develop technologies that significantly reduce the
impact of vehicles on our environment. Combining the sophisticated electronics in motor vehicle
engine control units (ECUs) and new radio communications technology which allows vehicles to
communicate with each other and the traffic lights. presents a new opportunity for engine
performance to be dynamically tuned to the traffic conditions. This will make automotive transport
safer, reduce both engine emissions and fuel consumption and maximise the utilisation and
useful life of roadside infrastructure.

How is it done now?
With simple ITS applications like automatic toll collection, the traffic and road infrastructure
industry had little need for interfacing with the motor vehicle industry. As such, neither has
developed a core competency in the control systems of the other. For example, traffic signalling
does not interact with the Engine Control Unit (ECU) a vehicle and therefore, road and traffic
organisations have never developed an understanding of vehicle engine control. Similarly, the
automotive manufacturers lack an understanding of intersection signalling or traffic management
– nor have they developed models for simulating the interaction of multiple vehicles. So currently
tECU parameters are set in the factory and optimised for maximum power performance while
staying within emissions standards.

The NICTA Solution
NICTA is working with Embedded Systems Technology Inc on technology to tune ECUs
performance according to the current traffic conditions. Embedded Systems Technology Inc has
a complete computer model of ECUs and vehicle drive chains. NICTA is working with Embedded
System Australia industry cluster on radio communications technology. Researchers are
developing advanced techniques that allow vehicles to combine the information from
infrastructure, other cars and the ECU to optimise the speed and fuel consumption of the vehicle.

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010                       8
The research will develop techniques so infrastructure can send information to the vehicles
informing them of the local traffic conditions such as delays or lights about to turn red or green.
The ECU will vary the power and torque performance to reduce fuel consumptions and
emissions. A beacon at the start of a tunnel could tell vehicles to tune for lower emissions in the
tunnel and automatically switch their air-conditioner to re-circulate, or broadcast the tunnel height
so large vehicles do not enter. Traffic signals could broadcast their upcoming policy so cars can
slow down for lights ahead that are green and about to turn red, and inform drivers of the speed
will to ensure they arrive on a green signal at the next set of lights.

Vehicle to vehicle communications will allow cooperative driving between vehicles. Such
behaviour includes “platooning” on freeways, automatic cruise control, automatic braking for
safety, and cooperative entry to main roads.

While some of these ideas sound futuristic, some such as over height vehicle detection and
cooperative driving are already being trialled.

Who will benefit?
Varying the engine parameter and car acceleration and braking benefits the environment, the
community and business:
  Reducing vehicle emissions
  Reducing fuel consumption
  Reduces trip time and pollution.
  Improved passenger safety

Smart Energy
Smart Grid

NICTA’s Canberra Research Laboratory is researching new technologies that will enhance the
Decision Management Systems (DMS) needed to control the Smart Grid of the future.

Electricity Distribution companies seek to optimise their operations and improve their reaction to
planned or unplanned events affecting their network. Predictable events include road works and
network maintenance or upgrade and require reconfiguring the network to minimise the potential
for serious disturbance. Unpredictable events include faults in the network, which are caused by
equipment malfunction, storm damage and/or other environmental factors. These faults often
lead to outages and must be minimised to restore power quickly and safely in order to avoid
customer dissatisfaction and fines, to ensure personnel safety, and to reduce equipment damage.

How is it done now?
Control Room Operators manually assess situations and outages and create switching plans
based on experience. Faults are located in the field and power is restored manually. Much of the
infrastructure in the world’s electricity distribution networks is 30 to 40 years old and companies
are now pushing to upgrade networks with remote readable sensors and remotely controlled
switches automate these operations in their Distribution Management Systems (DMS). These
systems enable Control Room Operators to automatically identify the fault and where automatic
switching is available restore power.

What will the smart grid network of the future look like?
In addition to the above, several other technologies are being deployed to the grid:
   Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) – this will enable two way communication between
    the home and the distribution system.

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010                          9
   Distributed Power Generation – Alternative energy sources such as solar panelling are being
    deployed into the grid, both reducing consumption of energy and potentially increasing supply
    from many, many sources.
   Energy Storage solutions including (battery, flywheels, super capacitors etc) – enable power
    to be stored for use in peak load times.

The above changes mean that power distribution companies will no longer manage a network
topology with a few power generation sources. Customers will no longer just use electricity as it is
produced and given to them. Instead there will be many sources of power and customers will be
able to receive power, modify their consumption behaviour according to pricing or other
incentives and they will even be able to supply power back onto the grid.

The increase in complexity that these changes will have on the grid will mean that Control Room
Operators will have problems to deal with on an exponentially larger scale, For example they may
need to deal with load balancing from thousands of individual power sources.

The NICTA Solution
NICTA is focussing on developing solutions that will provide complementary analytics to current
DMS systems. The software will incorporate a model-based approach where the software
performs centralised (or sub-centralised) monitoring and control, taking account of the operation
of localised network control systems. That is, it provides an up-to-date whole of network view,
and can intervene by overriding or reconfiguring local control systems when their responses are
incorrect or suboptimal with respect to the greater picture.

This approach provides a number of advantages over existing approaches:

Less input required by the system operator resulting in reduced costs over time
This architecture means that the software as is, correctly deals with changes in normal network
operations. This also means that from an operator perspective there is less input required and the
system is much more robust to change.

Less input changes results in a much more reliable system
The model-based architecture requires only a single change when a network component
changes, reducing the chances of model-system mismatches and making the system more

Higher degree of network security
Multiple, small, self-healing localised networks will be a feature of the smart distribution grid of the
future, but distribution companies will need to ensure that they have a whole of network view and
the ability to override local network controllers, to optimise overall network performance and to
deal with major disruptions such as severe weather events or attacks on the network.

Smart Water
Water Information Networks

Irrigation systems are critical for food production and supporting regional economies. The
efficiency of these systems plays an important role in the sustainable use of fresh water. By
supplementing irrigation systems with ICT infrastructure including sensors, actuators and
communication networks, it is possible to dramatically increase water-use efficiency and
productivity of farming enterprises.

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The Water Information Networks (WIN) project has developed an innovative wireless sensor
network platform that leverages real-time closed-loop control to improve the productivity of
farming enterprises by increasing the efficiency of water-use. The technology has been
successfully demonstrated in several field trials across dairy, horticulture and viticulture
Our Approach
    Leverage low-power, secure and easy-to-use wireless sensor networks to provide on-
      farm sensing.
    Provide wide area sensor network coverage using mesh networking.
    Develop simplified models of plants and soil by exploiting system identification.
    Employ robust closed-control loop control to optimize crop yield under water supply
    Collaborate with strategic research and commercial partners to ensure technology
      outcomes can be incorporated into modern farming enterprises.
Key Milestones
       Developed the NICTOR™ wireless sensor network platform optimized for monitoring and
        managing irrigation systems in farming enterprises.
       Successfully completed field trials, between 2005 and 2008, at four sites across Victoria's
        Goulburn Valley. The trials have been sponsored by the Victorian Government under a
        $4.5M Science, Technology and Innovation grant.
A commercialization process is underway through engagements with local SMEs in the
agricultural services sector.

What Have We Achieved?
WIN's innovations in sensing and real-time closed-loop control on the farm have resulted in the
following end-user benefits:
DAIRY (irrigation for pasture production)
       26% water savings per irrigation season (ML of water)
       27% improvement in water productivity (tonnes of dry matter / ML of water)
       38% improvement in gross margin (AU$ / hectare / year)
       Lower peak demand on irrigation water distribution system resulting in improved quality
        of service to other irrigators

HORTICULTURE (irrigation for Pink Lady apple orchard)
       73% increase in gross returns (AU$ / hectare)
    74% increase in economic water productivity (AU$ / ML of water)
Source: STI program "Regional and economic benefits through smarter irrigation", 2005 - 2008.
Gains benchmarked against fixed-schedule irrigation systems.

Faster Freight
Intelligent Fleet Logistics

The Intelligent Fleet Logistics project combines operations research algorithms for vehicle
routing with the flexibility of constraint programming. This research is driven by real-world
applications of the technology to deliver systems applicable to industry requirements. Our first
commercial offering is a Transportation Management System that can better model the detail of
client operations than current vehicle routing systems.

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What will Intelligent Fleet Logistics Achieve?
A significant portion of the freight movement in Australia is provided by road freight. Road freight
operators need to cope with fluctuating demands, changing deliveries and the varied operational
constraints to efficiently manage their operation. A solution for Fleet Logistics needs to both
accurately model their operation and provide saving through efficient automated planning.

Our initial software product is a Transportation Management System designed to be integrated
with existing client database and CRM software and configured to meet their exact transportation

The key competitive advantages of our software solution are:
   Rapid configuration and modelling of the automated planning software to meet the clients
    business operation.
   More accurate and precise models provide a more accurate and appropriate resulting system
    for the client.
   Use of state-of-the-art optimisation and route planning technology derives more efficient
    schedules than current systems.

Who will benefit?
Fleet Logistics operators can anticipate a 15-20% saving through more efficient asset and
resource utilisation. Automated planning of vehicles, crews, depots to reduce distance, time and
fuel costs are key aims of our software. Our end-users are any transportation company operating
a fleet of approximately 30 or more trucks with a varied operational plan.

Key features
Intelligent Fleet Logistics Solutions
       Operations Research Derived Routing Algorithms – vehicle routing and optimisation
       Constraint Programming Platform - technology base for complex constraint scheduling
       Precise Modelling – detailed, configurable, accurate, readily incorporates specifics
       Tackles Large and Complex Problems – through a new solver hybrid algorithm
       Immediate Tangible Benefits – saving per vehicle, crew, fuel, CO2 in real-time

And for Automated Asset Utilisation in
    Transportation Management Systems – road, rail, shipping fleets in logistics services
    Supply Chain: Planning, Management & Execution – complex supply routes involving
        multiple modes of transport, processing and real-time changing demands

Infrastructure Network Planning and Optimisation

Constraint Programming Platform

The Constraint Programming Platform project is developing G12, a software platform for
solving large-scale industrial combinatorial optimisation problems.

An underlying need in all modern, complex infrastructure deployments is the need to find the best
trade-offs and operational modes and make decisions based on real data.

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010                       12
The information processing revolution has enabled organisations of all sizes to capture and
access accurate and up-to-date information about all their activities and resources. The
Constraint Programming Platform project will enable this information to be turned to immediate
benefit by supporting optimised decision-making and resource allocation.

Advanced software engineering will encapsulate algorithms from several different disciplines, so
they can be reused and combined freely. Program development will be accelerated by mapping
low-level computation back to the problem model, enabling the programmer to analyse and
improve algorithm behaviour.

What will this research achieve?
The project is building G12, a powerful, easy-to-use, constraint programming platform for solving
large-scale industrial combinatorial problems.
The system uses constraint programming (CP) techniques, which will allow problems to be stated
simply and solved efficiently. Solution development time and computing time can be dramatically
reduced. This also provides amore comprehensive optimisation ability than conventional

Who will benefit?
This research will enable Australian industry to exploit resources more efficiently. It will support
more efficient management of complex private and public utilities such as transportation,
communication, power and water. It will help these organisations optimise and justify their
strategic decision making and investment.

Safer, Secure Infrastructure
Intelligent Video Surveillance
The Video Analysis and Content Management for Surveillance (VACMS) project aims to develop
intelligent video surveillance systems that can recognise specific events by understanding their
context and make a note of them or alert the operator.
In the traditional Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems, human operators have to monitor
large numbers of terminals to process the captured visual information. Such a process is
inefficient and difficult, which means human operators are likely to miss unusual or suspicious
situations. The challenge is to give these automated systems semantic or human-like
understanding when detecting and interpreting events of interest.
The project has applied research in three areas: novel algorithms, novel applications and a
prototype system framework. Mathematical models have been developed to teach a computer to
recognise a sequence of events from different angles and views.

What will this research achieve?
An intelligent video monitoring and management system aims to free security operators of the
mundane and repetitive task of monitoring video information, allowing them to focus on higher-
value tasks such as responding to the event. The new technology can recognise such things as a
traffic accident or a bag left unattended and alert the operator. It can also scan large databases of
stored video footage at high speed and find examples of specific types of occurrences. The socio-
economic value of this research includes the potential contribution to counter-terrorism efforts,
national security and public safety.

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010                           13
Who will benefit?
Security officers who use these new surveillance techniques and everyone who is protected by

What are the key features?
The team’s challenge was to develop a computer’s semantic understanding capability when
detecting and interpreting events of interest:

By applying novel algorithms to identify the association of objects in complex scenes, for example
a robbery. The team will develop mathematical models to teach the computer to recognise the
sequence of events from all possible angles and views. The computer deconstructs the main
event in order to recognise each pattern in the sequence and finally matching it to what it has
been programmed to remember.

By applying novel applications – combining research with target applications such as scene
analysis. For example, developing an active reaction to unwanted events by sounding an alarm,
activating door locks or providing a geographical position or an image or video of the subject.

By applying both novel algorithms and novel applications in a software-based prototype system
framework. The prototype system framework is the software that links it all together. It can bring
about fundamental changes to the whole surveillance system with advanced media technologies
for national security and public safety.

Brisbane Ports Project

NICTA is developing an advanced video surveillance demonstrator for the Port of Brisbane. The
new system, being developed at NICTA’s Queensland Research Laboratory, will combine NICTA
technologies with commercially available, off-the-shelf surveillance tools.
NICTA’s contribution will include software that recognises individual faces from live video feeds
and then matches them to a database, along with technology that improves the clarity of video
footage taken in poor conditions, where images may be obscured by rain, dust or fog. The
demonstrator will be further enhanced by NICTA’s sensor network research which will link all of
these capabilities, creating a robust, superior system.

Critical Infrastructure Monitoring

The safety, security and fitness for purpose of roads, bridges and other transport infrastructure is
the subject of NICTA's innovative approach to intelligent systems for continuous monitoring of
critical assets. Technological advances in sensors, wireless communication and processing,
combined with energy efficient algorithms, can make 24 hour in-service monitoring a cost
effective reality.

In collaboration with our research partner, the Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales,
NICTA is embarking on projects which will instrument selected infrastructure with a variety of
sensors, processing nodes and short and long-range radios. Together with NICTA's research
facility management software this infrastructure will become useful testbeds not only for NICTA
researchers but also for other organisations seeking to research or demonstrate novel
approaches to continuous infrastructure monitoring.

From imagination to impact
NICTA expects to produce and foster world leading solutions which generate significant benefits
to the owners and operators of critical infrastructure from design and across an extended lifetime
lifetime of performance

People and Infrastructure
Human Performance Modelling for Smarter Air Traffic Control

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010                      14
There is a pressing need for the development of smart technologies to increase the capacity and
efficiency of the national Air Traffic Management (ATM) system. The Australian Strategic ATM
Group (ASTRA) predicts that air traffic will grow between 4.5% and 6% per annum in Australia
over the next 20 years . Demand is projected to exceed capacity within a decade. This problem is
not unique to Australia. In its 2006 annual report, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Air Traffic Organization noted that:
       “using our current approach, air traffic controllers will not be able to handle traffic at 25
      percent above today’s levels. Traffic may increase this much by 2016. Although our long-
      term goal is to use the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), we need
      interim solutions, as NextGen will not be completed until 2025.” (p32).

What is being done now
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has developed the Global Air Navigation
Operational Concept in response to this problem. This represents a fundamental change in the
operating paradigm for air navigation services . Elements of the future operational concept
       Changes to the organization and management of the airspace designed to improve
        access and utilization.
       Dynamic management of capacity to meet demand and respond to uncontrollable events
        (eg weather & emergencies).
       Dynamic and flexible management of trajectories.
       Synchronisation of traffic flows to improve safety and efficiency.
       Implementation of risk based conflict management (involving the replacement of current
        set of separation standards based on fixed distances and time, with dynamic criteria that
        manage the risk of collision in order to minimize restrictions to user operations).

The potential benefits of these concepts are large. For example, NASA estimated the annual
benefit to the US economy of improved airspace capacity at USD1,380M in 2030. The annual
benefit of improved trajectory efficiency was estimated at USD260M (Breunig et al., 2003 ).
However, there are significant risks. The human air traffic controller is the critical element within
the ATM system, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. As traffic levels have increased,
technologies have evolved to enable the human controller to handle more traffic safely. These
technologies have evolved in a slow and incremental manner over the past 60 years. The result
is an extremely safe and reliable ATM system.

  Air Traffic Management 07: A strategic vision for Australia. Part B: Operational evolution
document. Canberra: Australian Strategic Air Traffic Management Group
  ICAO. (2005). Global air traffic management operational concept (No. Doc 9854)
  Breunig, T., Eckhause, J., Hasan, S., Hemm, R., Kostiuk, P., Leiden, K., et al. (2003). Single -
year, NAS-wide benefits assessment of DAG-TM CEs 5, 6, and 11: Version 3.1. Sunnyvale: CA:
Computer Sciences Corporation.
National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010                        15
Revolutionary changes in technology can have unanticipated consequences. These problems
can be extremely expensive to fix if they are not identified early in the design process. Inadequate
attention to human factors issues is known to be one of the primary causes of systems
development failures. The ASTRA strategic plan identifies the need for a major R&D program to
address these risks.

The NICTA Solution
The Human Behaviour Modelling Group in NICTA is developing the tools needed to evaluate the
impact that technology will have on air traffic controllers. We are developing methods for
simulating the performance of expert air traffic controllers, and evaluating whether information
and communications technologies place excessive workload on the people that use them. These
tools will help designers build and evaluate the decision support tools that are needed to support
the implementation of these future operational concepts.

Decision Support for Incident Management
The Decision Support for Incident Management (DSIM) project aims to research and develop
core technologies for a new generation of human computer interfaces that support critical
decision-making for users in high-performance and time critical environments. The research
focuses on i) measuring the cognitive load experienced by human operators of large volume and
complex information systems, in real-time and in an unobtrusive way; ii) optimising joint human-
system integration via adaptive decision support based on human cognitive status and situational

The research in this project is grounded on psychology and educational theories, and aims to
optimise the human-machine interaction so that the mental effort required from the user is never
too high (source of failure) nor too low (not economically viable). The DSIM project leverages and
extends the outcomes of the STaR-UI project, building on the team expertise in cognitive load
theory and multimodal user interfaces (speech and gesture in particular).

With commercial applications ranging from road and air traffic control, to elite sports and
military, cognitive load measurement promises an optimal use of the mental capabilities for a
given individual, at a give time. Modern systems have reached such a complexity level that it has
become paramount to monitor the operator's performance, to avoid errors due to information

Further related projects


AutoMap research underpins the commercial services (including the sign geo-positioning service)
offered by AutoMap Analysis. AutoMap is focused on implementing and field testing technologies
and systems for the automatic creation of digital maps in support of the rapidly growing data
requirements of the personal navigation market.

Research Direction
The intention of the AutoMap project is to build the foundation for a globally competitive
commercial entity which will use research as its primary source of competitive advantage to
exploit the digital mapping opportunity.

Two broad categories of research support our competitive position:

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010                     16
Research which will improve the performance of the current systems along the performance
dimensions valued by customers now and into the medium term. Eg, research into approaches
and methods which reduce hardware cost, improve data positional accuracy, reduce data transfer
costs, etc.

Research which underpins the longer term sustainable competitive advantage of the company
consistent with the anticipated competitive direction of the digital mapping industry. E.g. our
competitive intelligence indicates that whilst today map making primarily concerns 2D map items,
it is anticipated that the need for automatic capture of 3D information will grow rapidly and
efficient and automatic capture of 3D shapes and textures will be an important foundation for
business growth.

National ICT Australia – Response to Discussion Paper on USO – November 2010                  17

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