Cisco's investment in the Internet of Things (IoT) will help Australia's key industries push into the 21st century, especially in areas of agriculture, resources, and astronomy.
The company announced its Internet of Everything (IoE; its version of IoT) centre will be located in Sydney at Sirca, an organisation owned by 40 universities across Australia and New Zealand, and in Perth at the Curtin University campus, contributing $15 million over five years.
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CiscoLive! 2015 saw the assembling of key experts that have worked on the project, including Joseph Bradley, vice president IoE practise, Cisco Consulting Services; Kevin Bloch, CTO Cisco A/NZ; Dr Michael Briars, CEO, Sirca; Professor Steven Tingay, research fellow, director of the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy; and Ros Harvey, chief strategy advisor, Sirca; and founder of Sense-T at the University of Tasmania.
Bradley, who is responsible for leading Cisco's IoE vision worldwide, says that there remains some confusion over the nature of the Internet of Everything, not just from end user consumers, but in terms of those that are expected to deploy it. Questions of the value proposition abound.
"The IoE value is not in the things in and of themselves, but the connection between them," he said.
Even after the assets are connected, it becomes more about how data should be structured to make it usable. Then the application of analytics to that data is how the major value will be extracted, and how it is applied.
"Big Data is nothing without big judgement," he said.
The opportunity from 'dark assets', that is, something that's not connected to the internet today, is vast, he said.
The IoT market is in its early days, the company's focus on three key market areas is key. In astronomy, the company will be helping fund research on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a global next-generation radio telescope project involving institutions from over 20 countries. Once completed, it will be the largest and most capable radio telescope ever constructed.
Tingay told attendees that the SKA will enable scientists to look back in time 13 billion years to the founding of the universe.
"It is effectively the world's largest Internet Of Everything application, it stretches over 100kms," he said.
The radio-telescopes produces petabits of data per second, a monumental processing undertaking for any computer system - they had to produce a hierarchical data processing structure just to get that data throughput down to terabits per second, before applying any analytics or human to machine interfacing.
Harvey says that much of the work she will be producing with Cisco will be about focusing on business problems and producing outcomes - using the research to solve real problems.
"We need to get it out of the lab and into people's hands," she said.
"Productivity has stagnated across the last decade, technology is important to help make that transition.
"IoE is not necessarily about strictly squeezing value out of data, but about disruptive market models and their flow on effects."
Much as how CSIRO has been able to monetise many of its inventions, such as WiFi, Harvey believes that taking our knowledge based IP and selling it overseas is key.
"It will create knowledge intensive exports and jobs of the future," she said.
"That has got to be the future for Australia."
Bloch said that the program will eventually open up to more universities and partners, and is building a equipment building lab for IoT - which will help provide the IoT end-to-end infrastructure the market will need.Read more: University of Tasmania looks to form ICT service provider panel for Sense-T
The company also plans to reach out to New Zealand institutes via a hub spoke model, but the details have not been confirmed.