Sensing & monitoring | ACMA

Sensing & monitoring

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The ACMA's latest research report, Sensing and monitoring—recent developments (Word or pdf), explores the developments in information and communications technology that support the collection, connection and analysis of data through sensing and monitoring.

What is sensing and monitoring?

Sensors are parts of machines that gather data and have an important role in the processing and transport of data. Monitoring is a process that observes a state in time or tracks changes in data sets to derive information.

How does sensing and monitoring affect me?

  • Sensing and monitoring is surprisingly involved in many aspects of your daily life!
  • Everyday considerations like food, health, power production and consumption, the physical environment and human interactions are monitored using information collected, stored and analysed through digital communications technologies.
  • Technology developments in sensing and monitoring in these areas continue to drive process efficiencies, improvements in data quality and increased relevance of the derived information.

Sensing and monitoring in daily life

In food

  • Sensor networks play an important role in minimising the risk of hazardous or poor quality food products.
  • Sensors are used to track, trace and monitor products by employing transducers that measure immediate environmental aspects—such as light, heat, moisture, location and time that are important to the quality management of perishable food.
  • An example of a sensing and monitoring process can be seen with live produce—from the primary producer to the dinner table. Australia uses the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) to identify and trace livestock such as cattle and sheep. The NLIS tracks and identifies animals through their lifecycle, for bio-security, meat safety and market access. This assists with disease management. The system relies on radiofrequency identification tags that are attached to the animal's ear or inserted under the skin.

NLIS wireless sensor network application

(Source: Meat & Livestock Australia)

In smartphones

  • Smartphones continue to develop interactive capabilities using a range of sensors embedded and integrated into the device.
  • Proximity sensors, GPS, accelerometers, gyroscopes, digital compasses, light sensors, temperature sensors, improved touch sensors and audio sensors are in the technological mix that developers are using to create innovative smartphone applications.
  • Noticed that smartphone camera technology is improving? That's because of the use of gyroscopes in smartphone apps, which make them spatially aware. This is particularly useful for stabilisation of photographic sensors to improve related digital imaging functions.

Regulatory implications

  • The ACMA views sensing and monitoring technologies as smart technologies that will have a potentially significant impact on how information-based services are developed for use by consumers.
  • Data ownership, data privacy and choice are relevant consumer issues.
  • The ACMA continues to monitor developments in sensing and monitoring and welcomes comments on this report.

Last updated: 17 December 2012