With so many smart cities projects requiring large amounts of data to be researched and processed, more companies are looking at how final year University students can assist in advancing these projects.

There is now a large amount of public open data freely available online in Australia which can be used to support decision making by industry and government at all levels. Research projects are needed to process this data and present the results online as Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

Much of this work is being undertaken by the IT industry, but did you know you can get some projects done by final year university students for free, or at minimal cost?

A pair of retired Defence Scientists has been sponsoring Smart Cities projects for final year students at Melbourne’s Swinburne and Monash Universities. Drs Peter Ryan and Richard Watson became interested in the Internet of Things about five years ago, but realised that more hands were needed to produce useful systems using big data analytics techniques including machine learning. 

Dr Ryan is currently working in an honorary capacity for Defence Science & Technology Group and is also a member of several committees within Standards Australia including the Smart Cities Standards Reference Group.

Dr Watson is a former Lecturer in IT at Swinburne University, where he ran project subjects which produced many useful applications including web sites and videos.

Retired Defence Scientists Richard Watson, left and Peter Ryan, right, are sponsoring Smart Cities projects by Victorian university students in support of local councils.

The first student project sponsored by Dr Ryan and Dr Watson was carried out by a team of four Business students at Swinburne University in 2019. This team used Microsoft Power BI to analyse the City of Melbourne’s pedestrian counting system, and draw conclusions of interest to city planners. 

This work has been published in Enhancing pedestrian mobility in Smart Cities using Big Data, Journal of Management Analytics, 2020.

In 2020, the pair are sponsoring projects for software engineering students at both Swinburne and Monash Universities. The Swinburne project, by a team of six students, aims to use machine learning to produce APIs for the transport, traffic, parking and wifi use cases. 

The Monash project, being performed by several three person teams, aims to produce APIs for the waste management use case. One of these aspires to optimise garbage collection routes based on the type of garbage and urgency of collection, and another to identify and classify recyclables using image recognition technology.

In the course of this work, Dr Ryan and Dr Watson have acquired many data science skills including knowledge of python big data analytics, visualisation and machine learning libraries. 

As well as sponsoring the projects, they are taking a hands-on role to liaise with local councils and support the students’ work. Their work is currently in the process of being published (Big Data Analytics in Australian Local Government, Smart Cities).

If you have a Smart Cities related project that may be suitable for students, and would like to discuss what is involved, Dr Ryan and Dr Watson may be contacted on peterryan2005@hotmail.com or richardwatson@tpg.com.au.


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