Australian Ingenuity

Australian Ingenuity

Carnegie Mellon University students are known for their innovative use of technology to solve problems — and they're doing it across the globe.

Seven CMU-Australia students recently developed Water2Mobile, a mobile/tablet app to aid the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR).

The new app allows DEWNR staff to record and carry detailed information on the quality of groundwater monitoring samples in remote areas. This information can then be accurately passed on to users such as agricultural and mining industry personnel.

"Automating the process minimizes time spent on data collection and helps eliminate human error in transferring data," said Murli Viswanathan, assistant teaching professor of information technology on CMU's Adelaide, Australia, campus.

"DEWNR staff can capture the data on a mobile device and it can be instantly saved on their servers without the need to manually intervene."

The mobile app is particularly suited for use in the bush — the Australian outback — because it doesn't rely on a continuous Internet connection, instead automatically uploading details to a database once it comes into range.

The master of science in information technology students even included details such as high-contrast screens, knowing the app will be used in areas of bright sunlight.

"The app also provides data validation to reduce entry errors," said DEWNR program manager Aaron Osterby, "which is an important step to perform in the field — it could be six months or a year before a monitoring site is re-visited."

Australian Team photoThe capstone team project was part of a collaborative coursework program aimed at delivering practical software applications for government and private enterprise. The students were briefed by the DEWNR, and then researched, designed, tested and delivered the app within 90 days.

Said DEWNR chief executive Allan Holmes, "Our department is responsible for reporting the state and condition of groundwater resources across South Australia. With so many sectors of the community, including mining and agriculture, relying on accurate groundwater information, it's crucial we get it right."

The story was picked up by ABC news in Australia, which reported on the Adelaide students' work with the South Australian Environmental Department.

Holmes added the students should be commended not only for the high quality product produced, but also the short time frame in which it was completed. "This app has real potential for expansion and may also prove a step toward a more general tool for field staff to capture data wherever they are working in the state."

Group photo:
Faculty: Murli Viswanathan — Associate Teaching Professor of Management and Technology
Students: Abhishek Easwar, Jimmy Galindo Gambo, Cong Huu Hoang, Raza Ullah Khan, Romeo Nyalo Luke, Umair Bin Saeed, Srinivasan Vembuli

Related Links: A Global University | CMU Australia | ABC News story | CMU Australia article | DEWNR press release

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