Better Business Technology

Meshblox: shopping container solution for computers in hostile environments

BRISBANE business Meshblox has come up with a simple solution that could solve one of the biggest problems on mine sites: making information technology systems reliable.
Dusty, difficult mining environments can be 'plugged in' by Meshblox.

Toowong based MeshBlox Pty Ltd is developing a product, the DataBlox, that may provide the answer to the regular failure of critical IT equipment on mining sites.

The DataBlox is basically a complete data centre in a shipping container. It's designed specifically to house computers and communication equipment in extreme and demanding environments.

These days mining tends to be high-tech and information technology (IT) is critical to the smooth operation of a mine.

For example, in mines, computers are required to assist with safety audits, labour force planning or to control and manage critical mine processing equipment.

MeshBlox managing director Matt Heysen said unfortunately mine sites tended on the whole to be located in environments hostile to computers and communication equipment.

"They're hot, dusty and wet and as such extremely corrosive environments, often leading to high IT equipment failure rates," Mr Heysen said.

He said unreliable equipment and failures in IT equipment at mine sites could cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity.

"Housing IT equipment on mine and industrial sites tends to be a bit of an afterthought. So equipment often ends up being housed in demountables that are not suitable for electronic equipment, leading to inefficiencies in power and cooling and that do not often meet the industry standards for housing computer equipment," Mr Heysen said.

"Naturally the industry is very keen to find a solution that is practical, cost-effective and standardised. So what we've come up with is just that.

"The good thing about shipping containers is that they are easily transportable. You can put one on the back of a truck and bring it anywhere. You don't have to put up or take down a building. They can easily be transported from one site to another depending on need."

He said the company had carried out a series of tests on their DataBlox prototype in Brisbane with the assistance of the University of Queensland (UQ).

He said MeshBlox had been in negotiation with several mining companies and that the industry was showing a keen interest.

He said the company was also exploring the suitability of the DataBlox as a communications and IT centre that could be rapidly deployed in disaster-affected areas.

The Queensland Government recently provided the company with $49,000 in innovation funding to help the company get to the stage where the product was ready for commercialisation.


Good ship Broadband sets sail, but Australians still sitting on the dock, reveals ACBI, CSIRO report

AUSTRALIAN business is currently not prepared to take full advantage of the services afforded by next generation broadband, according to new research by the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI) and CSIRO's Digital Productivity and Services Flagship.


The ACBI and CSIRO report, Broadband Impact and Challenges, offers fresh insights and evidence to better understand the impact and opportunities offered by next generation broadband as well as advice on the necessary steps needed to mitigate the associated risks.

The report highlights the problem that most discussion on next generation broadband in Australia has centred on the timing of its rollout and its cost, rather than how to take advantage of its potential positive impacts.

The report was compiled using key findings from comprehensive community surveys, interviews with businesses and thought leaders as well as detailed analyses of existing data sources and peer-reviewed economic and social research.

"Although we are living in an increasingly 'Digital Age' full of smart devices, tele-working and social networks, one in five Australian adults still do not use the internet," said ACBI director Colin Griffith.

"Recognising that more and more government and business services are delivered online, a key focus of our research is to understand the behaviour and capabilities of adoption and use of next generation broadband.

"Across the board we have found that giving more people and businesses the skills and confidence to use these broadband services effectively will not only have a positive impact on their quality of life and business success, but also create broader economic benefits."

Interviews with industry and government stakeholders cited a lack of certainty about the future rollout of Australia's broadband infrastructure as being a significant barrier in helping them prepare for the future.

"Like other major Australian infrastructure projects such as the Snowy River Mountain Scheme and the Sydney Harbour Bridge Harbour Bridge, the debate around our national broadband infrastructure has predominately focused on cost and scale," Mr Griffith said.

Colin Griffith.

"While these are important discussions, our research highlighted that government, industry and the community need to invest in capability building through training and investment programs if we are to fully realise the benefits of next generation broadband."

The report also includes a number of key insights to help government and businesses prepare for some of the potential threats which next generation broadband may bring.

"Along with its many benefits, next generation broadband will also create challenges for Australia, accelerating disruption to businesses, jobs and services," Mr Griffith said.

"If we are to mitigate the potential threats than active leadership at all levels of society and across different organisations is needed to ensure that there is strategic investment in capacity building and innovation to help safeguard our digital future.

"Ultimately, it is the capabilities of every person and business that will determine the overall level of benefit realised for Australia in terms of jobs, improvement in productivity and quality of life."

The Broadband Impact and Challenges report was officially launched to a group of industry and government stakeholders at an event in Sydney on Monday.

ACBI is a national research initiative connecting people to the benefits of broadband through innovative services. It is led by CSIRO in conjunction with National ICT Australia (NICTA), NBN Co with funding support from the NSW and Tasmanian Governments.

ACBI helps to create opportunities through broadband-enabled services, demonstrate their use in real world situations and evaluate their potential commercial and social value. ACBI is designed to connect people and business to the benefits of 'game-changing' services and applications enabled by next generation broadband technologies.

CSIRO's Digital Productivity and Services Flagship is a $48 million research initiative targeting productivity growth in Australia through frontier services innovation and by unlocking the value of a national broadband infrastructure.

For more information visit the Broadband Impact and Challenges report.



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