Friday Fry Up: What tech got from the Marsden Fund, New tech term to learn: IoB, Dunedin back in front for broadband

Friday Fry Up is Computerworld New Zealand’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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What tech got from the Marsden Fund

$84 million is no small amount by any measure, and there are plenty of research projects worthy of the taxpayers’ largesse. So, the spreadsheet on who got the nod in the 2020 round of the Marsden Fund Te Pūtea Rangahau—‘New Zealand’s premier fund for investigator-led research’—makes for a fascinating read.

Being Fry Up, we were mostly interested in what tech projects got across the line. And we were hopeful, given that the press release Megan Woods, the science and innovation minister, sent out noted “the impact of big data on social equality” in the very first paragraph.

A trawl through the spreadsheet revealed that of the 134 new projects to receive funding, eight could reasonably be thought of as tech projects that could find their way into IT’s purview, and one project that might (eventually) have application in telecommunications. They are, with the funding amounts awarded, as follows:

  • Towards automatic updates of software dependencies ($300,000)
  • Correlations and randomness: brain-like (‘neuromorphic’) computation using nanoparticle networks ($889,000)
  • Reconstructing dynamic panoramic scenes in mixed reality ($300,000)
  • Digital breadcrumbs feeding urban decision-making ($300,000)
  • Shifting intimacies: Navigating the game of mobile dating ($300,000)
  • Producing facts: how is big data created? ($870,000)
  • Limbic capitalism and the digital landscape of young people’s lives ($870,000)
  • Methods for the analysis of complex routinely collected data ($300,000)
  • Visible frequency comb generation with fibre-based microresonators ($300,000)

A note: We excluded from our list those projects that referred to tech processes, such as using computational modelling to determine how eyesight develops in the womb, although special mention needs to go to the project “Exceptions to the rule: Why were females much larger than males among New Zealand’s extinct moa?”. That’s a question that surely has application across of all disciplines, including tech, because, why?

New tech term to learn: IoB

If you stumbled across a couple of new terms in the research titles, then try reading the abstracts! Academics aren’t the only ones nudging at the boundaries of the English language—IT analysts are pretty good at it too. The latest term to come to our attention is the internet of behaviours (IoB). We heard about it from Callaghan Innovation CDO Jen Cherrington in our interview at CIO New Zealand.

Here’s the definition of IoB, according to Gartner:

IoB is emerging as many technologies capture and use the digital dust of peoples’ daily lives. The IoB combines existing technologies that focus on the individual directly—facial recognition, location tracking and big data for example—and connects the resulting data to associated behavioural events, such as cash purchases or device usage.

Dunedin back in front for broadband

Hard to believe, but at the beginning of the Ultra Fast Broadband build there was a lot of folk worried about uptake. We will build it, but will they come?

To drive interest, Chorus created the Gigatown competition, where towns and cities would compete to be the first to access 1Gbps internet, which was about 10 times faster than what most people were getting on their fibre connections elsewhere. To win, about 50 eligible towns and cities had to show what they would do with these speeds and beat their drum via social media. Amazingly for a competition that had a year-long gestation (even back in 2013-14 we had short attention spans), people stayed engaged and eventually Dunedin won the coveted connectivity.

Now Dunedin is near the front of the queue to receive 5G, with Spark announcing it is the third location in New Zealand to have access to 5G wireless broadband and mobile. While Spark will be fighting it out with Vodafone and (eventually) 2degrees for mobile broadband, the fixed wireless aspect puts it in direct competition with its fibre wholesalers.

Which is no doubt why, as 5G slowly spreads across New Zealand, Chorus is championing Hyperfibre,  offering customers broadband that is available in 2,000 and 4,000 Mbps speeds across its national network.

This highlights an intriguing aspect of telecommunications: a company’s biggest rivals are often its largest customers.

Chorus will also start to see more competition from its other large retail service customer, Vodafone NZ, too. The telco’s parent company Infratil noted in its interim report to the NZX this week, that the telco’s “5G investment builds on Vodafone NZ’s existing fibre, coaxial, and mobile network capability. In addition to improving customer experience, it will accelerate the take up of fixed wireless access to the internet and provide the platform to bring the internet of things (IoT) to life as new uses emerge.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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