Transformation seed projects

Transformation seed projects

Across the world, population growth and ageing infrastructure are driving strong demand for the creation of new infrastructure and for increased efficiency and productivity from existing infrastructure. Innovation is key to creating and upgrading infrastructure that is cost effective, environmentally sustainable, reliable, resilient and in-line with community and social needs.

Monash Infrastructure established the MI Seed Fund to support new interdisciplinary research projects that address infrastructure-related problems and generate new knowledge to help design, develop, operate and use infrastructure more efficiently, safely, sustainably and in-line with community and social needs.

Provided here is information about projects initiated in 2017 and 2018.

2018-2020 seed projects

The Monash Infrastructure Seed Fund is the largest cross-disciplinary seed fund at Monash University. It aims to increase research partnerships between faculties and disciplines, to foster new partnerships with industry and government, build links between world-leading researchers in different disciplines and generate new knowledge – all within the framework of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Between 2018-2020, the fund attracted over $1million in research funding support from across the University. Some 18 research projects were supported, involving 10 Faculties/Research Centres, and 80 professional researchers. The outcome has included multiple publications, patents, prototypes and external research funding.

Details of the projects are provided below. Monash Infrastructure (MI) is actively seeking partners from private and public sector organisations to maximise the impacts of these projects.

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Algorithms and Software Systems for Green Cyberinfrastructures

Today's society and its organisations are becoming ever-increasingly dependent upon information and communication technology systems, mostly based in cloud datacentres. Powering these datacentres with energy generated from renewable energy resources is of critical interest. This project develops essential knowledge to help design and operate datacentres capable of efficiently using renewable energy. The innovative techniques and software systems developed within this project will lead to substantial reductions in operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions by datacentres and ensure that future cyberinfrastructures are sustainable.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnership

CI names

Optimising emergency response times

Monash researchers, in collaboration with Ambulance Victoria, have been exploring how future traffic congestion will impact on Ambulance Victoria’s response to emergency incidents. Transport models have been adopted to simulate future traffic conditions and test the performance of the Ambulance fleet in terms of response times. New tools developed in this research, will help Ambulance Victoria plan for the future, maintaining Ambulance response standards and patient survival outcomes for all Victorians.

Industry partner:
Ambulance Victoria

CI names

Building Capability for Successful Project Delivery

New infrastructure development is becoming increasingly complex in many respects that presents new challenges and risks for project managers/leaders. Identifying and dealing with these new challenges and risks effectively will require new skills and competencies with respect to ‘Planning and Management’ of the infrastructure development. This research project will explore, develop, and validate a new set of skills and competencies for project managers/leaders using data from industry.

Industry partner:
In-kind support from Master Builders Association of Victoria

CI names

Smart Irrigation: Proximal Soil Moisture Sensing for Real-Time Water Delivery Control

Agriculture and therefore food productivity is heavily constrained by the lack of water reducing crop yield, impacting both consumers and farmers; this is one of humanity’s most pervasive global problems. Monash researchers have developed a new type of irrigation system that intelligently senses soil moisture at a micro scale and uses this data to target and manage irrigation distribution. This technology represents a new type of precision farming which optimises water and crop yields.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnerships

CI names

Leverage Emerging Technologies to Drive Logistics and Warehousing Transformation

Emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, intelligent robotics, and blockchain have the capacity to transform industries offering substantial benefits to users.  However, the factors that affect the deployment of these technologies are not well understood.  The aim of this project is to explore the factors that facilitate or hinder the deployment of emerging technologies in establishing world class logistics infrastructure in Australia and develop a decision-making framework that can be utilised for designing and operating logistics and warehousing infrastructure that meets the needs of the future.

Industry partner:
Linfox Australia Pty Ltd

CI names

Augmented on-road driving simulator for AV using VR (VRAV)

Autonomous Vehicles is an emerging technology that promises to improve safety, reduce congestion, improve accessibility and to deliver more sustainable transport in the future. Monash researchers have developed a state-of-the-art driving simulator, using augmented and virtual reality headsets, operated within real vehicles. This permits a naturalistic experience of travelling in an autonomous car, enabling human factor testing in controlled and safe environments. This project team recently won the National Intelligent Transport Systems Award for innovation.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnerships

CI names

Digitalised and Data-Driven Healthcare Supply Chains

The healthcare sector is a major procurer of goods and services and through this activity a major contributor to economic growth. However, the efficiency of procurement and supply chain management is poor, relative to other sectors and is a major contributor to waste in healthcare systems.

As with other areas of healthcare delivery, the infrastructure underpinning procurement and supply chain management is too often paper-based or dependent on poorly linked computer-based systems and data, where it exists, is fragmented and constrained within organisational silos.

Digitalisation, therefore, promises major benefits to the way key resources such as pharmaceuticals and medical equipment is purchased and how these assets are managed. This cross-disciplinary project brings academic experts from business, information systems and medicine together to explore the potential of digital infrastructures to support such things as e-procurement and digital asset tracking.

The aim is to identify key elements of an accelerated innovation pathway which can overcome some of the commonly experienced barriers to digital innovation in healthcare.

Industry partner:
Working with health care providers and policy-makers actively seeking partnerships with MedTech and other technology developers

CI names

Whisker-inspired tactile sensing for detecting surface defects

Wire ropes are a vast and pervasive technology in Engineering structures. However, even minor defects in the entwined structure of wire ropes can have significant long-term impacts on performance. A major challenge is reliable and low cost detection of these defects in complex, twisted and reflective wire rope surfaces. Monash researchers have developed a biological surrogate technology to solve this problem using the common rat. Rats have an extensive, efficient and hyper-sensitive sensing system in the whisker structures of their snouts. The Monash team have reproduced a prototype system which simulates this sensitivity and applied it to testing wire rope structures. This technology has numerous wider applications which can now be explored, developed and applied.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnerships

CI names

Developing hierarchical models for Infrastructure Information Management (IIM): A multi-disciplinary perspective

This project presents a tangible opportunity to demonstrate the value of updating the BIM documentation effectively and efficiently using automated processes and algorithms to confirm accuracy of the models. The first stage is to obtain existing BIM models from major infrastructure projects. Such models are not stand-alone entities and have inter-dependencies with surrounding environment and other projects/systems. One of the project objectives is to leverage these inter-dependencies for a more accurate prediction of infrastructure status in short-term and long-term futures. The infrastructure information models can be updated using Structured Prediction (SP). This paves the way to apply the rich models and algorithms developed in Machine Learning (ML) to predict problems arising in infrastructure projects.

Industry partner:
Memco Australia, Building Point

CI names

Low-cost, solar-driven desalination technology for clean water production in rural areas

Monash researchers, in conjunction with Oxfam, have successfully developed and tested a low-cost, solar-driven, portable desalination kit. These desalination kits are made from readily accessible pieces of equipment and are able to provide clean and safe water to people living in areas where they do not have access to potable water, electricity or chemicals. This project directly addresses one of the world’s most significant global problems; providing access to potable water to vulnerable communities, at low cost.

The Monash-Oxfam team are now in the process of testing prototype kits in arid communities.

Industry partner:
Oxfam

CI names

Industrial Revolution

Post-war industrial centres in Melbourne’s middle suburbs are at the epicentre of economic, social and planning changes as advanced technologies and emerging industries are ushered into contemporary productivity networks. A number of now-former industrial zones that once housed ‘old industries’ and were an integral ingredient of suburban living, growth and development have recently been declared ‘National Employment and Innovation Clusters’ which will be subject to intense redevelopment over the next several decades. This project will uncover the physical and immaterial values associated with former industrial assets as the backbone – the infrastructure – of suburban landscapes, societies, institutions and economies. It will build the evidence from which new value creation strategies and value capture models can be developed.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnerships

A security-aware and contractually supported framework for data management in Building Information Modelling (BIM) enabled infrastructure projects

The adoption of the Building Information Modelling (BIM) approach is growing rapidly in the infrastructure sector.  To facilitate co-ordination, BIM relies on a common data environment that provides a unified repository to collect, manage and exchange all relevant project information and models between multi-disciplinary project teams.  Uncertainty about agreed data management protocols increases the risk of manipulation, loss or disclosure of sensitive information about critical infrastructures, which in turn raises issues of legal liability and contractual risk allocation.  This project aims to develop and validate a security-aware and contractually supported framework for data handling in BIM-enabled infrastructure projects.

Industry partner:
Australia Road Research Board (ARRB)

CI names

VLP, QADA and QADA-PLUS: the Solution for Accurate Indoor Positioning

Global positioning satellite technology is now pervasive in everyday life. But these systems cannot be used within buildings. Monash researchers have developed the world’s first precise indoor positioning system using low cost indoor positioning sensors within modified standard LED lighting units. This technology is patent approved with prototypes in testing. Potential applications are overwhelming and include real-time warehouse pallet positioning, hospital equipment locating, indoor retailing, station and airport wayfinding and mobile advertising within retail and other facilities.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnerships

CI names

Regional Cities Of The Future: A “Deep Dive” Towards A Novel Integrated Approach To Future–Proofing Small Towns

In the future, regional centres will need to accommodate significant demographic changes, both physically and socially, while meeting the ecological needs of nearby waterways.  A sound understanding of the synergistic relationship between urban development, environment and communities is required.  However, data-driven planning is challenging in regional communities due to the lack of relevant data.  By harnessing rich, unconventional data sources such as historical archives, environmental records locked away below ground, social-cultural recollections and oral histories, engaging the local community and adopting rigorous scenario-based integrated modelling, this project will circumvent traditional data challenges and develop a unique platform to achieve much greater depth in planning a future-proof regional city.

Industry partner:
Rural City of Wangaratta
North-East Water
North-East Catchment Management Authority

CI names

Image based crack evaluation and database design using bridge information modelling and artificial intelligence

A high proportion of the world’s bridges are old and in need of maintenance. Cracks can form in these structures with often catastrophic impact. A major barrier to addressing this issue is the high cost of reliable manual bridge inspections, this is an enormous global problem. Monash researchers have developed an innovative, automated image-based crack detection technology using artificial intelligence methods to reliably assess the quality of bridge structures at large scales. The adoption of these technologies with drone/ robotic inspection systems can automate a critical maintenance task, improving reliability and reducing costs.

Industry partner: Confidential

CI names

Machine learning for the design of next generation aluminium alloys

To date, the application of Artificial Intelligence in materials design remains largely unexplored, on one hand because diverse (multi-disciplinary) teams are needed to advance this area, and on the other hand because machine learning experts have not focused on materials design. This project seeks to address both such hurdles, combining a diverse team with the computational capabilities of MASSIVE (Monash eResearch). The team also seeks wider collaboration for applied and end-user inputs.

Industry partner:
The project is actively seeking partnerships.
The project has been provided some seed support by the Woodside FutureLAB to catalyse general research into future alloy design, with no exclusivity.

CI names

Cyclists and Left Turn Lanes

Crashes involving cyclists and drivers occur more commonly at intersections. In particular, turning manoeuvres including left turn change or left turn side swipe, are more likely to lead to a crash event.

This project aims to determine better approaches to left turning manoeuvres on our roads through an innovative, combined, traffic engineering, legal and design approach.

The impact of this project will be two-fold. Firstly, impact will be realised by developing some of the possible field-ready solutions to this well-known traffic problem. Secondly, by testing a new, combined approach of traffic engineering, legal and design research.

Industry partner:
The Amy Gillett Foundation
Actively seeking partnerships

CI names

Novel treatment technology to improve nutrient recovery from manure

This project addresses one of the wastewater challenges facing the dairy industry, one of the most important agricultural industries in Victoria.  Intensification is leading to greater nutrient accumulation on dairy farms and the potential for pollution of the environment from manure.  Improved treatment technologies are urgently needed, and in this project innovative methods to recover nutrients from dairy manure will be explored.  The approaches can be extended to other wastewater treatment systems from different animal and food processing industries with similarly high nutrient content that require multi-stage treatment before disposal. An economic analysis of the impacts of such endeavours on stakeholders will also be included.

Industry partner:
DEDJTR (Dr Sharon Aarons and Dr Cameron Gourley: Agriculture Victoria Research; Ellinbank Dairy Centre).
This project provides an opportunity to expand an existing research collaboration between Monash and the nominated DEDJTR scientists above.  A PhD student, who commenced in 2018, is currently working with the team as part of the Food and Dairy GRIP program.

CI names