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CeRDI Newsletter Autumn 2016

Message from the Director

Associate Professor Helen Thompson  
Associate Professor
Helen Thompson

Welcome to the Autumn issue of the CeRDI newsletter. With so much activity going on it is important to pause, reflect upon and celebrate recent achievements. We hope you enjoy the stories and updates presented.

In March 2016 a morning tea was held to welcome three new post-graduate students to the CeRDI team. New HDR students in CeRDI include: Chris Bahlo, Thomas Hill and Shirish Sharma. 


CeRDI wins Asia Pacific Spatial Excellence Award

2015 ASIA PACIFIC SPATIAL EXCELLENCE AWARDS WINNERCeRDI and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority have been awarded an Asia Pacific Spatial Excellence Award (APSEA). The award was announced during a gala presentation held during the Locate16 conference at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in April.

The Corangamite Soil Health Knowledge Base qualified for the APSEA awards after receiving a Victorian Spatial Excellence Award in 2015. The project then advanced to compete with other Environment and Sustainability Award winners from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.



Workshop: Smart Cities – Building the future

CeRDiís Andrew MacLeod presenting at the HUL/Smart Cities workshop at City of Ballarat in March  

Above: CeRDi’s Andrew MacLeod presenting at the HUL/Smart Cities workshop at City of Ballarat in March


In early March, CeRDI worked in collaboration with the City of Ballarat to conduct a workshop to establish a collaborative strategy for the future progression and transformation of Visualising Ballarat.

The workshop was well attended by staff from the City of Ballarat and representatives from organisations including the Museum of Australian Democracy Eureka (MADE), Southern Rural Water and the Public Records Office. The workshop format comprised core activities and presentations, culminating in a discussion on how innovation in Ballarat is aligned with international imperatives for combining technology, creativity and community to create a Smart City.

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Historic Urban Landscapes: First wave impact research

Historic Urban Landscape and Visualising Ballarat Impact Analysis  

During 2015, impact research into HUL Ballarat was conducted by staff at CeRDI, led by Dr Angela Murphy. The first wave of research captured substantial baseline data from key stakeholders to support the assessment of longer-term impacts of HUL Ballarat. Research examining the impacts on practice across and within community, planning, business and research environments will occur in the future. As an outcome of this research, recommendations were provided to support future development of HUL and Visualising Ballarat.

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Climate Ready launch

Climate Ready websiteClimate Ready has been designed to provide residents, businesses and holiday makers in the bayside councils of South Eastern Melbourne with a better understanding of the impacts and risks of climate change, including the increased risks of flooding, fire, drought and heatwaves. Climate Ready was officially launched on 3 March 2016.

CeRDI has worked on this project since June 2014 and has undertaken extensive community engagement (surveys and focus groups) to inform the development of this comprehensive online resource. A unique feature is the Climate Ready Action Plan that allows users to identify their own local climate change risks and create a personalised action plan.

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Online Farm Trials: Promotion and engagement activities

Online Farm TrialsThe CeRDI Online Farm Trials (OFT) team has recently returned from a busy schedule of visits around the country, attending events and conducting demonstrations of the OFT research tools.

OFT Manager Rob Milne recently hosted information stands and delivered presentations at grain research forums in Adelaide, Cowara, Perth and Bendigo to demonstrate the OFT system and promote its uptake amongst grower groups, agronomists, researchers and data custodians. These activities provided an opportunity to showcase OFT to interested stakeholders. During the recent visits the CeRDI team observed that interest in OFT has grown, including from private consultants and industry groups.

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Online Farm Trials: First wave impact research

Online Farm Trials CeRDI’s Dr Angela Murphy has been leading the first wave of impact research into the role of OFT in decision making and practice change involving industry key stakeholders. Research has explored factors relating to project implementation and development, knowledge building, behaviour change and informed decision making.

The first stage of a longitudinal research program has recently been completed. The research involved extensive stakeholder consultation with industry and grower groups across Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. To date, the research findings into OFT have provided unanimous support for its development and adoption by the industry: the technology facilitates ease of accessibility, usability and confidence in data quality. The research also provides additional insights about current/future user needs and requirements, ensuring OFT remains responsive to stakeholder needs.

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CeRDI leading migratory shorebird population updates


Photo of a Curlew Sandpiper at the Western Treatment Plant  

Photo of a Curlew Sandpiper at the Western Treatment Plant, south-west of Melbourne, an internationally important site for migratory shorebirds. This species has recently been uplisted to Critically Endangered under the EPBC Act, on the basis of significant population declines in the EAAF. Photo courtesy: Danny Rogers.


The Australian Government Department of the Environment is responsible for the development and implementation of policies specifically written for the protection and conservation of Australia's shorebirds and their habitat. To ensure estimates remain as current and reliable as possible, the department needs to produce new population estimates for 37 migratory shorebird species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

CeRDI’s Dr Birgita Hansen is leading a team of scientists from the University of Queensland, the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Australasian Wader Studies Group, on behalf of BirdLife Australia, to update these population estimates.

Under the EPBC Act, ‘important habitat’ is a key concept for the conservation of migratory species. Defining this term for migratory shorebirds in Australia is important to ensure that habitat necessary for the ongoing survival of the 37 species is appropriately managed. Wetland habitat is considered nationally important if it regularly supports 0.1 percent of the flyway population of a single species of migratory shorebird. A flyway is a grouping of similar routes used by shorebirds during their annual migrations between breeding and non-breeding areas.

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Commerce Ballarat Online Services launch

Commerce Ballarat Online Services launchCommerce Ballarat, the independent business group uniting Ballarat’s business and commerce sector, launched its new-look online services in March 2016. CeRDI collaborated with Commerce Ballarat to develop and deliver an intuitive technology platform catering for staff, members and the general public. The new online services have been developed to enable members quick and easy access to information using mobile, tablet or desktop devices.

Furthermore, the new online design and branding has provided an updated, contemporary look and feel, further complementing the other changes to have taken place.

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Western BACE: Tenancy research

Western BACEThe Western Business Accelerator and Centre for Excellence (Western BACE) is a multifunction facility, built with the aim of fostering business, education and innovation in Melbourne’s West. Located in Melton, Western BACE was launched in May 2015 and offers a range of business services and tenancy programs for start-up businesses (through the business accelerator program; co-working space) and anchor tenancy for established businesses. Education and training opportunities are also offered at the facility.

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New documentaries about Innovative CeRDI projects

New documentaries about Innovative CeRDI projectsWind and Sky Productions have been working closely with CeRDI to produce two new documentaries for Online Farm Trials and the Natural Resource Management Planning portal. The documentaries provide insights into both web portals and explore how these innovative online technologies are being utilised by project partners, industry groups and key stakeholders.


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Staff profile: Andrew MacLeod, Manager of technical projects

Andrew MacLeod, Manager of technical projects  
Andrew MacLeod, Manager
of technical projects

Andrew MacLeod is the Manager, Technical Projects and a member of CeRDI’s Senior Leadership Team. He completed his Bachelor of Computing and Honours in Applied Science (Information Technology) at FedUni (then the University of Ballarat).

In 1999, Andrew commenced his career with CeRDI (then known as the Centre for eCommerce and Communications) as a web developer. In 2000 Andrew was promoted to Technical Lead for the regional portal project, which was funded by the Commonwealth Government Networking the Nation program.

After taking ‘time out’ to travel and work in the UK and Europe in 2001 Andrew returned to Ballarat and assumed the role of Manager, Technical Projects, a position that he has held since mid-2002.

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Higher Degrees by Research student: David Ebbs

Higher Degrees by Research student: David Ebbs  

Higher Degrees by Research
student :David Ebbs


Triple bottom line analysis of stormwater use

A degree in chemical engineering and a MBA have served David well across his 28 years working in manufacturing. In 2015, David commenced a PhD investigating the barriers to using stormwater as an alternative water supply for a city. In March 2016 successfully completed his confirmation of candidature.

Higher demand and climate change is exerting increasing pressure on existing water supplies. Extraction of fresh water to supply cities places stress on the environment, and stormwater from impervious surfaces can cause downstream ecological damage.


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News snippets

Telematics application

CeRDI’s Dr Angela Murphy and Jessica Sautner recently prepared an application for funding from the Telematics Trust. The application was developed in consultation with the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria.

Funding was sought to undertake a project for the development of curriculum resources to embed the real world application of spatial technology across the primary and secondary geography and science curriculum. The curriculum resources would be linked to real life data sets across agriculture, environment, geology and hydrogeology, urban planning and natural disaster management.

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Postgraduate Student News

New CeRDI postgraduate students: In March CeRDI welcomed the following post-graduate students. Each student is undertaking a PhD and has been awarded a scholarship for the duration of their studies.

  • Chris Bahlo: PhD Title: Developing and implementing intraoperative agricultural data exchange standards. Industry partner for this research is the Regional Universities Network Precision Agricultural Flagship. Supervisors Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus (Principal Supervisor; FedUni) and Dr Mark Trotter (Associate Supervisor; University of New England).
  • Thomas Hill: PhD Title: Unheard farmers: strengthening precision agriculture by capturing knowledge using the social sciences. Industry partners for this research are the Regional Universities Network Precision Agricultural Flagship and University of Southern Queensland. Supervisors: Dr Angela Murphy (Principal Supervisor; FedUni), Professor Bernard Schroeder (Associate Supervisor; University of Southern Queensland) and Associate Professor Helen Thompson (Associate Supervisor, FedUni).
  • Shirish Sharma: PhD Title: Using interoperable standards for visualisation of spatio-temporal data to aid in sustainable development of Ballarat within the integrated framework of HUL and Smart Cities. Industry partner for this research is NICTA (now Data61, CSIRO). Supervisors: Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus (Principal Supervisor; FedUni), Dr Angela Murphy (Associate Supervisor; FedUni) and Dr Iman Avazpour (Associate Supervisor; NICTA Data61, Deakin University).

Confirmation of candidature: Congratulations to David Ebbs who successfully completed his PhD confirmation of candidature on 18 March.

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About CeRDI

The Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) is a research centre at Federation University Australia focused on:

  • the application of information and communications technology (ICT) and the development of innovative, world class knowledge management systems;
  • significantly advancing the digital literacy and knowledge management capabilities of partner organisations;
  • fostering partnerships for the development and implementation of eResearch with industry, government and academia; and
  • measuring the impact of eResearch and digital innovation through longitudinal research.

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Contact CeRDI

For further details about CeRDI’s diverse portfolio of research please visit our website:
or contact Director, Associate Professor Helen Thompson:

Mailing Address
Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation
Federation University Australia
PO Box 691
Ballarat Vic 3353

Office Location
Suite 15, Greenhill Enterprise Centre
Ballarat Technology Park
University Drive
Mount Helen Vic 3350

Phone: +61 3 5327 9314
Fax: +61 3 5327 9895

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