Thursday, 22 June 2017 17:10

Fujitsu helping Australian organisations go digital

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Fujitsu is working on some interesting digital and IoT projects in Australia.

At a briefing for media and analysts at the Fujitsu World Tour event in Melbourne today, the company described a virtual carer for dementia patients, a monitoring system for enforcing bail conditions, and a project to reduce the risk of flooding through better monitoring of drains.

The virtual carer project is being conduced in collaboration with Twilight Aged Care and Macquarie University, said Fujitsu ANZ head of digital Richard Zwar.

It is known that dementia patients suffer a dramatic decline in cognitive ability once they are admitted to care facilities, so the aim is to keep them as independent as possible.

A wearable device provides GPS tracking, with geofencing used to generate alerts when the person leaves "safe areas" such as their own home, doctors' surgeries and other places they routinely visit. If they take too long to return to a nominated area, action can be taken by family members or other appropriate people.

Wandering is a symptom of dementia, he said, and those with the condition often come to harm if not found promptly.

The device also includes an accelerometer to detect falls.

The bail monitoring system is being developed for an unnamed Justice Department, but iTWire understands it is that of the Queensland Government.

It uses various types of biometric authentication such as fingerprint, face and voice recognition to identify the individual, with GPS to establish their location and to set geofences relevant to bail conditions. For example, someone accused of domestic violence might be prohibited from approaching their home.

Allowing these checks to be carried out remotely reduces cost and improves the safety of members of the public as well as that of the officials whose job it is to carry them out, said Zwar.

The project also aims to provide secure video conferencing to enable family members and others to make 'virtual visits' to prisoners.

Floods are the most costly natural disasters in Australia, according to Zwar, and blocked pipes are a major contributor. A pilot project on the Gold Coast involves the installation of sensors that can detect the volume of water and the flow rate in 500 drains.

The devices form a mesh network, and the data they generate means preventative maintenance can be carried out before blockages cause a problem, or locations selected for pre-emptive upgrades. If the worst happens, real-time data generated by the system allows the deployment of emergency services before flooding actually starts.

Fujitsu Oceania chief executive Mike Foster (pictured) said the company is considering the establishment of a Gold Coast innovation centre. It is also redirecting some money from other types of presales activity into a fund that will enable it to carry out small projects.

Fujitsu's traditional practice is to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars making bids for multi-million dollar projects, but that doesn't make sense in an environment where customers are increasingly adopting a more agile mindset and going for small and often incremental projects costing just tens of thousands of dollars.

Fujitsu is also planning to take its "defence-grade security" into the business market, he said.

Later in the event, Foster said that while Fujitsu previously had lots of pockets of digital expertise, it has now formed a single digital group with "all of our capability in one place".

It will focus on healthcare (which is "going to be a massive requirement"), security and law enforcement, and other key industries including transportation, retail, government and education.

Fujitsu has picked the partners it will be working with in various areas, he added.

The group is capable of providing the scale and functionality that will allow projects to progress beyond the pilot stage. And if two out of five pilots do advance, that will be a good start, said Foster.

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Stephen Withers

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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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