Wednesday, 20 October 2021 16:51

La Trobe University teams with Cisco and Optus for digital transformation

La Trobe University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Susan Dodds La Trobe University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Susan Dodds

La Trobe University is preparing to reopen its Bundoora campus and meet an ambitious 'net zero' target with the aid of technology.

According to La Trobe University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Susan Dodds, the university is applying technology to help safely reopen its Bundoora campus and also to meet sustainability goals including that of becoming carbon neutral by 2029.

La Trobe's regional campuses are on track to achieve carbon neutrality be 2022, she noted.

Measures include the adoption of LED lighting, photovoltaic panels (which also shade car parks), on-site composting, energy analytics, reduced travel thanks to online collaboration, and a $500,000 fund to support research towards net zero.

Cisco-La Trobe Centre for AI and IoT director and Cisco Research Chair Professor Wei Xiang said the centre is the only one that combines research into AI and IoT. A massive amount of data can be collected by IoT devices, so it should be put to work.

The centre is focussing on areas including digital health, agriculture, industry 4.0, and smart manufacturing.

Furthermore, Innovation Central Melbourne – a collaboration between La Trobe and Cisco – supports collaboration between industry and scientists.

Achieving net zero by 2029 is an "ambitious goal", he said, and research is needed to create solutions. Topics include the visibility of emissions, realtime monitoring and reporting (eg, by combining Wi-Fi and building management system data), and modelling the impact of interventions (eg, though the use of digital twins).

The safe return to campus is being supported though technologies such as Wi-Fi analytics to determine how many people are in any particular area, and air quality monitoring.

This work is part of the university's $5 billion La Trobe City of the Future/Living Lab project.

La Trobe University is unveiling a significant technology investment, partnering with Cisco and Optus Enterprise, to transform its digital infrastructure and underlying network to become a resilient digital university.

Another part of the University City of the Future project is the The Digital Innovation Hub funded by the Victorian Government and due for completion in 2022.

The university is also transitioning to a next-generation software defined network (SDN) in collaboration with Cisco and Optus.

This will allow greater control and ease of management, as well as the optimisation of the network to suit the applications running over it.

Expected benefits include improved responsiveness to changing demands, greater cybersecurity resilience, and greater capacity for innovation.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor John Dewar said "La Trobe's decision to transform its underlying technology infrastructure is a major step towards creating a university that is more resilient and adaptive to the changing landscape of higher education.

"The way we teach, learn, work and operate is fundamentally changing, and technology innovation is rapidly evolving to support this change," Professor Dewar said. "La Trobe has ambitious goals to further improve student experience, achieve net zero emissions by 2029, increase our research impact and continue to improve our global reputation.

"None of these goals are achievable without a commitment to digitally transform the University, and I look forward to working with our partners Cisco and Optus to help make this a reality."

Cisco ANZ vice president Ben Dawson said, "The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digitisation in every industry sector, and education is no exception. That includes a need to review hybrid work and learning, improving security posture, expanding digital capability throughout buildings and enabling new innovative digital services."

"Research commissioned by Cisco revealed that the list of must-have technologies and digital services is growing, whether that be in teaching and learning, research or administration. The research indicated many Australian universities considered digital upgrades to be a priority."

Optus Enterprise managing director Chris Mitchell said "Optus is excited to partner with La Trobe University and Cisco to usher in a new era of digital transformation that will have a positive impact on the students, faculty and staff. As we've learned over the past year, universities, just like businesses must be able to adopt a hybrid way of learning. La Trobe's investment into a next generation network will ensure their staff and students have a seamless digital experience on campus and remotely in regional campuses."

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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