Participants in CQUniversity's five minute pitch competition
Participants in CQUniversity's five minute pitch competition

How to save energy while using technology 5RP winner suggests powering down towers

SINCE we seem to be hopelessly addicted to our communication devices, why not use machine-learning to seek out energy efficiencies in the way we use them?

That was the core premise from Dr Nahina Islam, the overall winner of this week’s CQUniversity 5 Minute Research Pitch (5RP) competition, held in Rockhampton.

Billions of people are demanding constant access to wireless communications but this creates growing demands for energy, leading to environmental concerns.

Dr Islam suggested a system involving the powering down of some wireless communication towers during “non-peak” times of the day when demand is lower.

“Can you imagine a single day without using any of your electronic devices?” she asked.

“We have become dependent on our devices and, as a result, we are consuming more and more energy and more and more carbon is being emitted in the environment.

“We have to think about ‘green communication’ or energy efficient communication ... that’s the motivation of my research.

“We are planning to reduce energy consumption in the network by putting some base stations into sleep mode. However, each sleeping base station takes 10 to 15 minutes to wake up, so we have to plan ahead to wake up enough stations to provide coverage.

“The new system is very efficient but very complicated, if you want to control them manually so to optimise the system, I used machine-learning or reinforcement learning ... as a result it gives me an optimal decision on which base stations and how many base stations should be in sleep, active and standby mode.”

People’s Choice winner Dr Upamali Amarakoon spoke about how Foodbank volunteers could also operate as informal ambassadors.

“Fifteen per cent of those who volunteer change their own behaviour and those around them as a result of volunteering to reduce food waste,” she said.

“For the society, volunteering means more food relief and behavioural changes. Volunteering involves making grassroots-level changes to initiate behaviour changes and a driving to societal changes can have a profound impact in reducing food waste.

“Foodbank, embracing the full potential volunteering can bring about, cannot only enhance their capacity but also contribute to eradicating hunger in Australia.

“Our findings benefit food rescue organisations to engage volunteers beyond free labour, to drive societal changes and thereby achieve their social missions.”

Other competitors included: Dr Tasadduq Imam (a case study of Australian financial planners); Dr Biplob Ray (smarter irrigation to save water and protect the reef); Dr Amy Reynolds (sleep medication for patients with auto-immune disease); Dr Heena Pachasara (liquid fuel atomisation for clean combustion); and Dr Sam Fien (feasibility, sustainability and benefits of exercise in older adults living in aged care).

The judges were Professor Michelle Bellingan, Dean, School of School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences (chair); Associate Professor Linda Colley, School of Business and Law; Associate Professor Celeste Lawson, Head of Program, Professional Communication; Associate Professor Paul Nielsen, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences.

The event was hosted by Dr Michele Lastella and Dr Melanie Hayman.